What can and can’t your landlord do?
14th March 2011
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If you are renting a property, you are entitled to certain rights and your landlord has certain obligations.  There isn’t a huge amount of regulation in the lettings market so it pays to be well informed of exactly what you are entitled to as a tenant.

Keep in mind that there are different types of tenancy so the guidelines will be accordingly different, depending on your situation.  However, there are some basic rules which are standard.

Please note that if you have a licence rather than a tenancy, you may not have all of these rights. Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity has a handy online “tenancy checker” tool that will help you to determine what type of tenant you will qualify as.  

Access to the Property
Landlords are entitled to access the property to inspect it and to carry out repairs, but they must give you proper notice and arrange a convenient time in order to enter the property.  The amount of notice needed for your landlord to gain access to the property will be outlined in your tenancy agreement.  Generally landlords must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference. However, if you have a licence rather than a tenancy, your right to restrict your landlord from coming in is more limited, so get advice before you do anything.

Correct Procedure for Asking the Tenant to Leave
In the majority of cases landlords will have to give a written notice and get a court order to evict their tenants. The specific legal procedure has to be followed depends on the type of tenancy and the reasons for the eviction.  If a landlord does not follow the correct legal procedure for eviction they could be facing fines or imprisonment.

Maintenance of the Property
Landlords are responsible for most repairs to the exterior or structure of a property. This means that problems with the roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains are the responsibility of the landlord. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity in safe working order.

Tenants however, may have responsibility for some minor repairs and maintenance. This usually relates to:
- internal decorations
- gardens
- furniture or equipment.
The exact responsibilities will be laid out in your tenancy agreement.  For more information about who is responsible for repairs in a rental property click here

Safety Regulations
Landlords have legal obligations to ensure the safety of tenants.

They must:
- get a gas safety certificate for every appliance in the property. These must be issued by a registered gas engineer and renewed every year
- ensure that any necessary work identified by gas engineers is carried out
- ensure furniture meet fire safety standards
- ensure electrical equipment provided is safe.

Landlords of certain buildings that are occupied by more than one household (eg houses split into bedsits) have extra legal obligations to provide adequate fire precautions and means of escape from fire.

Rent Payment Rules
It is the obligation of the landlord to inform tenants when the rent is to be paid and how it should be paid (for example by standing order etc). The landlord must accept the rent from their tenants. If a landlord does for some reason refuse the rent, the tenants should keep trying to pay it and keep the money separate (for example, in a separate bank account) and then get advice. 

If the rent is paid weekly, private landlords have to provide a rent book.

Rent Increases
Rent can be increased but only at certain times during the tenancy and only in certain circumstances. These depend on the type of tenancy you have and what your agreement says about when the rent can be increased.

Providing Relevant Information
All landlords have to give their tenants their name and a UK contact address. If the property is managed by a letting or property manager, the representative must also provide you with the landlord's full name and address.

Response to Problems
If you are experiencing problems with your landlord, you should make your requests to them in writing.  Keep a copy of your request and post it via recorded delivery, so that you have proof of postage. If you don't get a reply in writing within 21 days of them receiving your letter, the landlord is committing a criminal offence.

Issues with your Landlord
If your problem has not be solved to your satisfaction, you can to report your landlord to your local council's tenancy relations officer (TRO). TROs can mediate disputes between landlord and tenants.

Lack of Regulation
Recently there have been a great many experts in the property industry voicing concerns about the lack of regulation of landlords and letting agents. Currently, letting agents can voluntarily be part of a regulatory body such as the Property Ombudsman or the National Approved Lettings Scheme, as Northfields is, but many are not regulated.  This means that tenants are not protected from sharp practice.

However, Housing Minister Grant Shapps denies that such protection for tenants and landlords is needed, saying : "The government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy. Councils have a range of powers already at their disposal to make sure tenants are properly protected."

However, you are less likely to encounter problems if you choose an agent who voluntarily belongs to a regulatory body. 

Choosing an award winning lettings agent will also give you further reassurance of professionalism, as awards are granted after lengthy interviews and examination of the individual agent by industry experts.

Northfields Estates is a member of the Property Ombudsman and the National Approved Lettings Scheme and a multi-award winning agent – all accololades sought to give you peace of mind when you look for your next rental property.

Call our award winning lettings team on 0208 567 6660 to register your details now or click here to search the properties we currently have available to let.


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