In England and Wales, the law stipulates that all tenants must enjoy certain basic rights. In this article we explore these rights in more details, explaining what they are and what you can do if your rights are being breached.
What are your rights as a tenant?
As a tenant, you have four basic rights. These are as follows:-
1. The right to live in the accommodation undisturbed
A tenant must have control over who comes into their home; people cannot freely enter when they choose to do so, including the landlord himself. Therefore if a landlord needs access to the property for any reason – for example, to carry out and inspection – permission must be sought from the tenant. A reasonable period of notice (of at least 24 hours) must also be given. If a landlord fails to do so, he could be found guilty of harassment.
2. The right to live in a property in good repair
A tenant must reside in a property fit for purpose. Although a tenant does have a duty to carry out minor maintenance works, it is a landlord’s responsibility to ensure the structure and exterior of the property are in good repair. He is also obliged to maintain all water, gas, electricity and sanitation installations. If a repair is needed, a landlord must ensure the problem is addressed within an acceptable amount of time.
3. The right to information about the tenancy
Where a tenancy started after March 1997, a tenant can request their landlord provide a document setting out the terms of the agreement. This should be provided within 28 days of the tenant’s application and should include information such as: the date the tenancy began, the amount of rent that must be paid, how and when the amount of rent can be altered, and (if it is a fixed term agreement) the length of tenancy.
4. Protection from unfair eviction
A tenant cannot be evicted from the property unless a landlord has good reason to do so. For example, if a tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement by failing to pay rent or by failing to keep the property in a good condition, a landlord may apply to the court for a possession order. However, he cannot do so without sound reason. If the fixed term tenancy has ended (and there is a monthly rolling tenancy) then a landlord can ask a tenant to leave, but two months’ notice must be given.
What can you do if your rights are being breached?
Although the law is in place to protect tenants, there are unfortunately times when a landlord fails to respect their rights. The most common example of this is when a landlord has been informed of a repair, but continually fails to fix the problem.
If you feel your rights are being breached as a tenant, the first thing to do is to take the issue up with the landlord. Send them a written letter stating the nature of your grievance, remembering to keep a copy for yourself. If this does not prompt any action, your next step should be to seek advice from a solicitor who deals with housing disrepair claims.
Contact us at Roskell Davies, we’ll be happy to help. Call 0800 142 2901 or fill in a free online enquiry.