Your Legal Rights as a Tenant

The constant increases in property prices throughout the UK have meant that home rental is enjoying a boost in its popularity, as those who are young or who receive lower incomes cannot afford to get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder. This puts private landlords in a very powerful position, able to command high rents and feeling as though they can take advantage of tenants. Those seeking a home for rent in London or similarly large cities are especially vulnerable due to higher prices and competition for spaces. Unfortunately, some tenants are not aware of the protections offered to them by the law. Read on for a simple summary of your rights as a renter.

Lease or Licence?

First of all, you will need to ascertain whether you are a tenant or merely a licensee. As the law only offers protection to those who have a legally enforceable lease, this is an important distinction. A licensee is staying in the property at the leisure of the owner, and is not entitled to privacy or protection from eviction. Because of this, some unscrupulous landlords may try to ensure that your rental agreement is a licence only. Look for the terms which set out the rights of the landlord to enter the property. Are they allowed to enter as they please, or only if they have given notice? If your contract says it’s the former, seek legal advice.

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment

This means that your landlord must not interfere with your ordinary usage of the property, and applies to all tenancies in England and Wales. It means, for example, that they cannot attempt to drive you out of your home by making a nuisance of themselves, or create a structure which affects you unduly – for example, building an exterior staircase which allows them to see into your bedroom.

Keeping the Property in Good Repair

Your landlord is responsible for certain aspects of your home’s upkeep. All external walls, windows and doors, and the roof must be well-maintained. They must also ensure that your supply of gas, water, power and sanitation is looked after. Depending on the terms of your individual agreement, you will be responsible for certain aspects of the interior of the property. Check your contract for more information.

Protection from Eviction

Landlords cannot evict tenants without reason before the lease the scheduled to expire. Acceptable justifications for eviction include non-payment of rent, breach of the terms of the tenancy or damage to the property. If your landlord decides to evict you before your tenancy has expired, they must give at least 2 months’ warning with a ‘notice to quit’, and convince a court that they have adequate reason. Eviction can be stalled if the court finds that you would face exceptional hardship if forced to leave your home.

Right to Information

Lastly, all tenants have the right to ask for certain information about their tenancy. This includes advice on the rent and how it may be altered, as well as the date upon which the tenancy expires. This must be delivered to the tenant in writing within 28 days.

Author Bio:

Paul is a qualified property solicitor and legal advisor at an east London lettings company. In his spare time, he enjoys talking politics and blogging about all things legal.

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