If you live in a rented property, it’s important to know that although someone else owns your home, that doesn’t mean they have absolute power over it. Here is a quick guide to some of your most important rights.
What kind of tenant are you?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one set laws which applies to everyone renting their home. Your rights will depend on what kind of tenant you are. This guide is intended for people holding an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’, the most common kind except for those sharing a home with their landlord, students, and those who have been renting the same place since before 1997.
Right to privacy
One of your most important rights is to live in your home undisturbed. Of course, this doesn’t mean your landlord can never enter your property: they are entitled to make inspections, and may need to carry out maintenance tasks and so on. What it does mean is that they have to give you ‘adequate’ notice before turning up, or before causing someone else to turn up (for example a plumber or handyman).
Right to repairs
Your landlord has a legal duty to keep the outside and structure of your house or flat in good repair. This includes things like the roof and guttering, the external walls, windows and doors. Inside your home, they also have to keep the equipment necessary for basics like water, sanitation, gas and electricity working and safe.
Right to safety
All gas appliances also need a gas safety certificate that is currently valid. Furniture needs to be certified as fire resistant.
Right to live in your home
It sounds obvious, but don’t forget that you have a right to live in your home, and your landlord cannot limit it by preventing you from staying there on certain days. You also have the right to have visitors, though if you want someone else to come and live with you permanently, you will need to get your landlord’s agreement.
Right to information
Many tenants will make you sign a tenancy agreement before you move in, though this isn’t compulsory. However, you always have a right to basic information about your tenancy in writing, including things like: how much rent you are being charged, and when you have to pay it; the length of the fixed term, if it’s a fixed term contract; the date the tenancy started.
What to do if your rights are being breached
In many cases, the best first step is to approach your landlord informally. It may be that there has just been a misunderstanding, and it can be sorted out without recourse to the law. However, if things get more serious, you might want to consider contacting an organisation like Shelter or Community Legal Advice, who will be able to give you initial advice free of charge. There may also be local sources of legal help. If things get serious, and you can afford it, engaging a solicitor may be your best option.
Alastair Kane, provided this article for landlord insurance specialist More Than. The opinions expressed are those of the author and any data provided does not originate from MORE TH>N.