Private Renting - Rights & Responsibilities

Overview

As a tenant living in private rented accommodation you are entitled to certain rights and equally you have responsibilities you must adhere to.

Your Rights

As a tenant, you are entitled to the following:

  • To occupy a property that is safe and in a good state of repair
  • Have your deposit returned to you when your tenancy comes to an end, and in some circumstances have it protected
  • If charges are excessively high, be able to challenge those charges
  • To know who your landlord is
  • Live in the accommodation undisturbed
  • Have the right to see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • Entitled to protection from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • Receive a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

Your tenancy agreement should be fair and comply with the law. If you are not sure who your landlord is, in the first instance contact the person or company you pay rent to (preferably in writing). Your landlord can be fined If they do not provide you with this information within 21 days. When you start a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord must provide you with a copy of the how to rent guide if you live in England and a tenant information pack if you live in Scotland.

Your Responsibilities

As a private tenant you must ensure the following responsibilities are met:

  • You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.
  • take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
  • pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord
  • pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example Council Tax or utility bills
  • repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
  • only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it

Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you do not meet your responsibilities.

If your landlord lives outside the UK and the rent you pay them directly is more than £100.00 per week you should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This is because you may have to deduct tax from your rent under HMRC’s ‘non-resident landlord scheme’.

Safety Responsibilities

The property you live in must be safe and free from health hazards.

Gas safety

Your landlord must:

  • Ensure that gas equipment they supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • Make sure a registered engineer does an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue and;
  • Provide you with a copy of the gas safety check record before you move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety

Your landlord must:

  • Make sure the electrical system is safe, for example sockets and light fittings
  • Ensure that appliances they supply are safe, for example cookers and kettles

Fire safety

Your landlord must:

  • Follow safety regulations
  • Provide a smoke alarm on each storey and also a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove)
  • Check you have access to escape routes at all times
  • Ensure that the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe
  • Provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO)

Repairs

Your landlord’s responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain and repair the following:

  • Both the property’s structure and exterior
  • The basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • Electrical wiring
  • Any damage that they have caused by attempting repairs
  • Your landlord is usually responsible for repairing common areas such as staircases in blocks of flats. Check your tenancy agreement for details

Your responsibilities

  • Repairs should only be carried out by you, if your tenancy agreement says you can, and you cannot be forced to do repairs that are your landlord’s responsibility
  • If you occupy a flat, and damage another tenants flat, for example if water leaks from an overflowing bath, you will be responsible for paying for the repairs. You’re also responsible for paying to put right any damage caused by your family and friends

Contact your landlord if there are repairs to be carried out. You must ensure this is done immediately for faults that could damage health, for example faulty electrical wiring.

Your landlord should let you know when to expect the repairs to be done. You should carry on paying your rent in the meantime.

Complaints and Issues

The environmental health department at your local council must take action if they think the problems you have could harm you or cause a nuisance to others. Contact the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) if you’re in Scotland.

If you think your home is not safe to live in, you should contact the housing department at your local council. They’ll do a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment and they must take action if they think your home has serious health and safety hazards. Please note, there are different housing standards and procedures in Scotland and Northern Ireland.