As a tenant in a single-family home or an HMO, you have rights. But most tenants don’t know what those rights are, and landlords often take advantage of this. Knowing your rights to safety, privacy and housing can save you loads of stress and money. We’ve got the most important tips you need to know as a tenant below.
Take Photos of the Property When you Move In
Most tenants know that it’s a good idea to document the property upon moving in, but many rarely do it. Taking photos on move-in day ensures that your landlord can’t blame you for any existing damage to the property.
But don’t wait until the landlord tries to charge you to have your “gotcha” moment. Send them photos of anything that could be considered damage immediately. This informs your landlord that you’ve done your due diligence on the property. It also alerts them of any damage that could get them into legal trouble.
Remember that you have the right to live in a safe home, and your landlord is legally obliged to repair damage and eliminate hazards. Even small issues like creaky banisters or damp pantries should be dealt with quickly. If your landlord refuses, inform your local council of the issue.
Ensure Your Deposit is Protected
Landlords are notorious for refusing to return some or all of tenants’ security deposits. However, they are required, in many cases, to register your deposit and hold it in a special account until your contract finishes. Before signing a contract, ask your landlord how they intend to protect your deposit.
At the end of your tenancy, you must reach an agreement on how much of your deposit will be returned. Your landlord cannot simply dictate this to you. Once an agreement is reached, you must be paid your deposit within 10 days. If your landlord does not abide by deposit regulations, you may be able to claim 1-3 times the amount back.
Challenge Unfair Rent or Eviction
Evictions have skyrocketed by nearly 40% in the UK, and with an economic recession around the corner, tenants should prepare for the worst. Unfortunately, many recent evictions have been ‘no-fault’ evictions, meaning tenants are being evicted even though they pay on time and follow all of the rules.
A full ban on no-fault evictions is in legal limbo, but according to existing UK law, your landlord must provide a reason for your eviction, and in most cases, they must obtain a court order before they can force you to leave.
If you feel that you’ve been unfairly forced to leave or harassed by your landlord, you can apply for a rent repayment order and get reimbursed for up to 12 months of rent.
Get to Know Your Landlord
Building rapport with your landlord is always a good thing. Remember that landlords are people too, and if you respect them, you’ll have a much better rental experience. For example, if your landlord likes you, they’ll do everything they can to keep you, including keeping your rental costs low.
You also have a right to know who you are renting from. Many properties are managed by agencies (middlemen), so you may never know who your rent checks are going to. For some people, this is fine. But many long-term tenants want to know who they’re doing business with. If you request to know who your landlord is, you must be provided with the information within 21 days.
Understand Your Responsibilities
Landlords have a lot of responsibilities—and it’s true that they don’t always honor them. But tenants have responsibilities too, and if you don’t follow the rules set by the law and your contract, you may become ineligible for the protections mentioned in this article.
As a tenant, you must:
- Care for the property. This includes things like keeping fences locked or turning off water mains when leaving for holiday. Talk to your landlord to find out how to properly care for your home.
- Pay rent and utility costs. Even if the landlord is not honoring their responsibilities, you must still pay rent. Document the activity (or inactivity) of the landlord and you may be reimbursed later.
- Pay for damage you’ve caused. You may need to pay out of pocket or have costs deducted from your deposit.
- Honor the rental agreement. Abide by the rules in your contract as long as they are in accordance with the law.
Know Your Rights as a Renter
Economic insecurity in the UK is shaking up relationships between tenants and landlords. There’s no better time to research your rights as a tenant to protect yourself from hazards, rent hikes and eviction. Follow the tips above and learn about the rest of your rights to enjoy a safe and happy occupancy in your home.