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What are tenant’s rights in the UK?

by | Dec 2, 2022

Home $ Property Management $ The Importance of Tenant Management $ What are tenant’s rights in the UK?

Introduction

There are a lot of different pieces of legislation and multiple things that determine what kind of rights a tenant has. This can be concerning eviction in a property or it could be due to the right that a tenant has to a quiet home.

Whatever the right, making sure the rights of tenants are well known and respected whether that be a landlord enforcing the rules or a tenant making sure their rights are stood up for. It should always be a priority.

What are the rights of tenants when renting from a private landlord?

Unfortunately, because private landlords aren’t regulated as easily by those in the public sector, it is more common for landlords to neglect a tenant’s rights. Depending on what type of tenancy agreement is in place, there are different regulations that are in place whether that be an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy.

It is therefore crucial a tenant knows what rights they have based on the agreement they have signed and make sure their rights are respected.

What are your rights as a tenant in an assured shorthold tenancy?

Tenants in an assured shorthold tenancy have improved rights to those in a regulated tenancy. This includes the introduction of the housing act of 1988 and all the legislation that came with it including section 13, section 21 and section 8. 

A book of law that includes a tenant’s rights

What are a tenant’s rights around eviction?

In a tenancy agreement that is an assured shorthold tenancy, there is a good chance that the landlord will not be able to evict a tenant unless the tenant is in a break clause of their tenancy or their fixed term has come to an end.

This is because if a tenant has a fixed term of their tenancy they are in a fixed term tenancy and they hav3 the right to stay in the property for as long as they signed the fixed term for as long as they keep paying rent.

This legislation is in place to make tenants feel more secure in their homes and prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant whenever they want without them having a breach in their tenancy agreement. Adding to this, in 2023, new legislation will come into effect which states a landlord doesn’t have the right to evict a tenant for no reason, abolishing the rules around section 21.

A landlord will still be able to evict a tenant under section 8 if there was anti-social behaviour in a property such as a tenant intimidating neighbours, if there was damage to a property or if there were late rental payments. 

This was after the queen’s speech in 2022 which said that there was a knock-on effect on the mental health of those who are able to be subject to section 21 and there should be a “better deal for renters”  moving forward. Landlords will only be able to regain access to a property if there is a valid ground for possession.

What are a tenant’s rights around rent increases in an assured tenancy?

In an assured tenancy shorthold, if it is a periodic tenancy where rent is due every month until an undisclosed date, then this tenancy type is subject to section 13. This means the landlord can increase the amount of rent every year by issuing a section 13 notice.

However, there are still tenants’ rights that must be respected. These include making sure:

  • A section 13 notice only applied to an assured tenancy type
  • Section 13 is only applied once annually
  • The rent change is in line with the regional market rents of the area
  • A least one month’s notice is given before the proposed rent increase come into effect

If you would like to check if the rent increase from the landlord is in line with the market rents, you can check the government website here. On top of this, as a tenant, you have the right to go to a property tribunal and contest the increase in rent if you think it is unfair here.

What other tenant rights do you have in an assured tenancy?

Other than the rights surrounding eviction and rent increases. There are other tenant rights that must be respected too such as the tenant aching the right to live in an accommodation undisturbed and live in a property that is in good repair.

A landlord writes down a tenant’s rights

In addition, in an assured tenancy, a tenant also has the right to information regarding the tenancy including the right to have a valid how to rent guide which can be found here, given to the tenant in a physical format so they are informed about how the law works. 

If a landlord doesn’t issue this document, it may be the case the landlord isn’t able to evict a tenant as this is a breach of a tenancy agreement.

What are your rights as a tenant in a regulated tenancy?

Regulated tenants are tenants protected by a different set of legislation as it concerns tenancies that started before January 1989 which are governed by the Housing Act of 1988. Instead of protection under the housing act, you will have protection under the Rent Act of 1977. 

For a full breakdown of what this entails, take a look at the government website here

What are a tenant’s rights around eviction in a regulated tenancy?

A regulated tenancy is not applicable to be subject to the laws of section 21 and section 8 because it is an older type of tenancy with older laws. However, eviction still works in a similar way. In general, a landlord cannot evict a tenant unless they can prove to a court there are reasonable grounds for eviction such as rent arrears or a tenant damaging a property.

In all cases, a landlord must go to court first, there is no such thing as issuing a notice for repossession and being able to have the right to evict a tenant without a court order like some of the grounds in section 8.

What are a tenant’s rights around rent increases in a regulated tenancy?

In order to increase the rents in a property in a regulated tenancy, there is no section 13 that can be applied as a regulated tenancy is not an assured tenancy so it is not protected under the housing act of 1988. Instead, there has to an increase in rent that follows a process known as “fair rents”.

For a guide on the details concerning this process from the government website, you can click here, but it is essentially a process that means the rents can only be increased by a certain amount set out by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and you can only increase the rents every two years.

If a tenant finds out they have been paying rent that is above the “fair rent” listed by the government, they can reclaim this rent by going to a local court and asking the landlord to under charge them rent to make up for the rent they have overpaid. So long as a tenant finds this out within two years.

What other tenant rights do you have in a regulated tenancy?

Interestingly, some of the reasons why regulated tenancies have been going on for so long (since before 1988), despite new regulated tenancies being discontinued is the reason that a tenant has the right to succession. This means passing down the tenancy to a family member after the death of the original tenant.

A tenant in succession visiting their relative after inheriting a leas because of their tenant rights

This must be written in the tenancy agreement before the tenant passes away. It must just be stated the tenant wants to pass down the tenancy to their family but it doesn’t have to say which family member this is as this can be decided after their death. In order for a deceased tenant to have this right they must have lived in the property for at least two years.

What are your rights as a tenant in an excluded tenancy?

Excluded tenancies are not regulated tenancies and nor are they assured tenancies because in order for a tenant to have an excluded tenancy they have to be living in a property with the landlord. Both of these are not allowed in a regulated or assured agreement.

This tenancy agreement is called an excluded agreement because the tenant should have exclusive possession of the area that they pay rent for and the landlord shouldn’t be able to gain access to the room that the tenant is living in.

In this type of agreement, tenants may not necessarily be paying rent to a landlord and could be providing services to a landlord in exchange for accommodation. Common reasons where this happens are when tenants move into a property to take care of older people in properties and help out in exchange for a spare room and perhaps pay a little bit of rent.

what are a tenant’s rights around eviction in an excluded tenancy?

Excluded occupiers have few rights when it comes to eviction. The landlord does need a court order if the agreement is valid but they don’t need a valid reason to evict you. 

If the fixed term of an excluded occupier’s tenancy has come to an end then no court order is needed and the landlord can give as little as one month before a tenant has to leave. This means a landlord does not need to give much notice to move out.

These tenant rights that an excluded occupier has is known as basic protection under the law and you can read more about how this works here.

What are a tenant’s rights around rent increases in an excluded tenancy?

Landlords can increase the rent in an excluded tenancy agreement by getting rid of the current agreement and asking the tenant to sign a new one. However, other than this there are no other rights available to landlords and if a tenant disagrees with an excluded tenancy rent increase then their only option is to attempt to negotiate with the landlord or leave.

Understanding your rights to safety as a tenant

In order for a landlord to legally rent their property to any tenant, there are a set of basic rules a landlord has to provide before they can sign a tenancy agreement by law. Some of these are more or less stringently checked based on the type of agreement and the type of property.

For example, a landlord will struggle to gain a mortgage to a property that doesn’t have a valid EPC certificate but a local authority will rarely check if there is a valid EPC certificate in a property where there is a lodger or excluded tenant. Either way, below are your rights to safety as a tenant.

An electrical safety check being carried out to respect tenant’s rights

A tenant’s rights to gas safety

First of all, under the legislation seen here from the gas safety regulations of 1988, a landlord must have a gas safety check which has passed to show the check was satisfactory every year in a property where there is an active tenancy. This means getting a gas safety engineer over to the property and conducting checks on all the gas appliances of the property, the gas piping and the boiler.  

A tenant’s rights to electrical safety

You may have heard of an Electrical Installations Conditions Report (EICR) which must also happen within a property every five years. This checks that appliances are operating normally and the electrical installations are all working effectively.

A tenant’s rights to energy performance

It is crucial a tenant works out what the energy performance of a property is because it directly impacts the costs of their utility bills. A poorly insulated property may result in the tenant paying more for gas to heat their space. On the other hand, a high EPC rating might be reflected in higher rental payments.

Either way, if a tenant asks to see the EPC certificate, it must be provided within 18 days by the landlord or the landlord in breach of their agreement.

What other rights does a tenant have?

Other than the rights concerning a tenant’s safety, there are a few rights a tenant should also be aware of. Rules around a tenant’s right to a quiet home and their security deposit should also be respected.

What rights do you have concerning security deposits?

Tenants have the right to have a deposit protected in a trusted security deposit scheme. With the right evidence, a tenant has the right to have their deposit refunded if they can prove there have been no rent arrears and no furniture has been damaged or stolen throughout the duration of a tenancy.

In order to prove this, a landlord will usually record what their property looked like before a tenant moved in and maintain property inventory so they can compare what a property looked like before and after the duration of a lease.

On top of this, a tenant has the right to be charged no more than five weeks rent for a security deposit.

A tenant’s right to a quiet home

The quiet enjoyment of a property is important as this is one of the oldest protected rights of a tenancy. This must even be respected if a landlord needs access to a property by providing a landlord inspection notice.

The rules state that a tenant has the right to make use of their home without disturbance from anyone working with the landlord including letting agents or property managers. This is known as having quiet enjoyment in their home.

What to do as a tenant if you think you’ve been discriminated against

A tenant doesn’t lose their rights if they breach a tenancy agreement. If a landlord retaliates and breaches their side of the tenancy agreement too, this is poor tenant management. In fact, it is in the best interest of a landlord to continue to provide the services they set out to provide in a tenancy agreement even in the worst of disputes between landlords and tenants.

An angry tenant that has been discriminated against

This is because if anything was to be escalated to court, a landlord should be able to show how they are following their side of the agreement but the tenant is not. This is vital in order to produce a court order to evict a tenant.

Can a landlord evict you if you report them?

No, there is legislation in place in assured tenancies that prevents this from happening. For example, if a landlord is found to not be able to provide a valid safety certificate, they can lose their rights to evict a tenant for up to six months even if they can show they have conducted repairs. So don’t be afraid to report the landlord for not respecting your rights to the council.

In closing

To wrap things up, if as a tenant your rights haven’t been respected. This is where a tenant has the right to bring a landlord to court and potentially benefit from a landlord breaching their tenancy agreement in any way. You are well within your rights to do so and there is certain protection the local authority will provide while this happens.

On the other hand, it is in the best interest of a landlord to uphold the rights of their tenant too. It is the moral thing to do so and being guilty of not respecting a tenant’s rights means a landlord could be reported to landlord associations or find themself on the rogue landlord list of their local authority, ruining their reputation.

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