Ask Tenants blog
One in five households in the UK rent privately. Three-quarters of these households are living in homes owned by private landlords, many of whom are accidental landlords. Research suggests that most tenants are not aware of laws around tenants rights.
In this blog, we break down the lifecycle of tenancy in a chronological order and answer questions around tenants rights at each stage of tenancy.
This blog is posted by Asktenants.co.uk. Asktenants.co.uk is a website where tenants can rate their landlord and rental property anonymously and free of cost. Rating helps future tenants and keeps rogue landlords in check.
Tenants right at the start of tenancy:
Q1: My landlord may not have protected my deposit, what are my rights as a tenant to deal with this?
A1: Your deposit should be protected in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007.
Contact a tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you’re not sure whether your deposit has been protected. If the court finds your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit it may also order the landlord to pay you up to 3 times the deposit within 14 days. Landlords Section 21 eviction notice will be invalidated if deposit in unprotected.
Q2: I have paid my deposit but not received any further details for many weeks, are there tenants rights around receiving some information about deposit?
A2: It’s a tenant’s right to receive following information within 30 days of deposit being received by landlord:
- Copy of the deposit protection certificate/receipt.
- Prescribed Information.
- The deposit protection scheme leaflet for tenants.
Penalties for not providing this information are similar to not protecting the deposit. Section 21 served by landlord will be invalidated if above information is not provided.
Q3: What rights do I have as a tenant to know about safety of boiler and other electric appliances at the start of tenancy?
A3: Landlords need to give a copy of the latest gas safety records to new tenants upon the start of their tenancy. You should check with your landlord to provide this to you. If they fail to do so, you can report them to the HSE. Failure to follow gas safety requirements is a criminal offence and the HSE has the power to issue a formal caution and may prosecute your landlord.
Recent regulations require private rented sector landlords, from 1 October 2015, to have:
At least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their rental property which is used as living accommodation, and
A carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used – after that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
Q4: How will I know about energy efficiency of my rented property?
From the 1st of October 2008, Landlords in England & Wales must provide an Energy Performance Certificate to all new and prospective tenants. The certificates (EPCs) should be provided at no cost to prospective tenants and should be shown before any tenancy is formed i.e. during the viewing. EPC certificate will give you necessary information about energy efficiency of your home.
From October 2015, if landlords in England (not Wales) fail to show prospective tenants a valid EPC, they will not be complying with the new Section 21 rules, therefore will not be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice. A landlord must serve a valid Section 21 notice tenants if they wish to legally terminate the tenancy, so it is crucial to comply with the legislation.
Do not just rely on letting agents word about EPC bands, you can check it online here. The link takes you to EPC register page where you can retrieve the EPC by entering the post code.
Tenants rights during the tenancy:
Q1: What do tenants rights say about landlord or agent’s access to the property?
Your landlord or their representatives may be allowed reasonable access to carry out inspections or repairs, but must first get your permission.
‘Reasonable access will depend on reasons for which access is required, for example to carry out planned repairs, routine inspection or emergency access. Most landlords carry out routine inspections every 3-6 months. The visits should be at a reasonable time, generally anytime 10 am – 8 pm. The tenant will be in violation of their tenancy agreement if they repeatedly refuse access without good cause.
Q2: What is the notice period for landlord’s access to property?
According to Section 11, from The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, your landlord needs to give you at least 24 hour notice before they come around and visit for any reason.
Q3: Who is responsible for repairs of the property? Landlord or a tenant?
Landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home. This applies to private, council and housing association landlords. Landlords should also provide gas safety records annually, within 28 days of safety inspections being carried out.
Most tenants have a written tenancy agreement. This usually includes details about who is responsible for repairs. Your tenancy agreement could say if your landlord is responsible for repairing or replacing faulty items or appliances they provided such as a fridge or washing machine.
We highly recommend to read this detailed guide by Shelter on repairs responsibilities of rental property.
Tenants right at the end of tenancy:
Q1: How long should landlord take to return your deposit?
Your tenancy deposit should usually be refunded within 10 days if you are an assured shorthold tenant. Most private renters have this type of tenancy. If a landlord wants to make a deduction they should write to the tenant explaining the reasons of deductions and submit supporting evidence. The undisputed amount is refunded and disputed amount is held with deposit protection scheme.
Q2: My landlord wants to make deductions from tenancy deposit, where do I stand as per tenants rights in the UK?
A2: Landlords can deduct missing items, damage to property caused by tenants, unpaid rent and cleaning where tenants have left the property worse off compared to when they first moved in. Landlords cannot expect the property to be professionally cleaned when it was not cleaned professionally at the start of tenancy. Cleaning is a cause in highest number of deposit refund disputes.
Your landlord can’t deduct money from your deposit for normal wear and tear, but they can for damage. Examples of damage are:
1) Burn hole or nail varnish spill on a carpet 2) holes in plaster or damaged paintwork caused by hanging pictures on a wall 3) torn or missing curtains
Examples of normal wear and tear are:
1) Worn carpets 2) minor scrapes and scuffs on the walls 3) faded curtains.
Wear and tear should consider a) Useful life of item b) number of occupants c) length of tenancy. In the rare circumstances where damage (to the worktop/carpet/mattress/item etc.) is so extensive or severe as to affect the achievable rent level or market quality of the property, the most appropriate remedy might be replacement and to apportion costs according to the age and useful lifespan of the item.
Example actual age of a carpet at the end of tenancy is 8 years, expected useful life is 10 years. Depreciation is £100 a year. Cost of the carpet replacement is £1,000. In the event of irreparable damage caused by tenant adjudicator might only apportion 2 years’ worth of cost to the tenant equating to £200.
Q3: I do not agree with tenancy deductions, what are my rights as a tenant to dispute the deductions from the deposit?
A3: Tenant has an option to raise a dispute with the tenancy deposit protection scheme if they cannot reach an agreement with landlord on deductions. If you are unaware of which scheme is your tenancy deposit protected, speak to your landlord or estate agent if it’s a managed property. Tenancy deposit protection schemes offer free alternate dispute resolution service (ADR). An adjudicator is assigned to each case and the decision is impartial and evidence based. The decision of adjudicator is final and cannot be challenged. The service can only be used if both tenant and landlord agree.
If landlord or tenant are unwilling to use the service the dispute needs to resolved through court. The onus is on the party wishing to use the courts to issue court proceedings. If court proceedings have not been issued with a court within six months of the dispute being accepted then scheme may pay the disputed deposit amount to the other party.
Tenants generally have three months from the date you vacate the property to raise a deposit dispute.
Q4: How does a dispute resolution service work?
A4: It’s a 5 step process
Step 1 Initiation –
Dispute is initiated when a tenant notifies the scheme that he/she wishes to dispute the tenancy deposit deduction and both and landlord and tenant agree with dispute resolution service offered by the scheme to adjudicate the dispute.
Step 2 Landlord Evidence –
Landlord will be asked to submit a case and provide evidence to support their claim to the tenancy deposit deductions. This should include a tenancy agreement, check in/out reports, photographs and any documents relevant to the dispute that support the claim. The onus of providing evidence is with landlord as tenancy deposit is an asset of the tenant.
They have 14 days to provide evidence.
Step 3 Tenant’s Response –
Tenant will be given the opportunity to review the dispute case and counter landlord’s claim. Tenants are also invited to submit own evidence in support example of evidence can be images, email exchange with landlords/agents, text messages copy or any other evidence which can help you counter the tenancy deposit deduction claim. It’s vital to keep any communication with landlord and estate agents in writing as it can be a key evidence at this stage.
Tenants have 14 days to act.
Step 4 Review the case –
Landlord will be given another opportunity to view the dispute case and submit further comment for the adjudicator to review.
They have 7 days to provide comments.
Step 5 Adjudication decision –
The case is reviewed by an independent adjudicator.
Tenant and landlord will be notified with a full decision. The money will then be distributed as per the decision. It takes 28 days to make a decision.
We hope you find the information about tenants rights useful. Please do rate your rental experience and landlord on Asktenants.co.uk. Your review helps other tenants and us finding out and researching about tenants issues.