Your rights as a tenant
Is your landlord turning up unexpectedly and then threatening you with eviction because they don't like the type of music you listen to? Know your rights and put them in their place.
Once you have entered into a contract, you have a number of rights under several statutes (The Housing Act 1988; The Family Law Act 1996, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and The Protection From Eviction Act 1977).
Know your rights when it comes to renting and how to deal with problem landlords.
Under these laws, your landlord cannot:
- Turn up uninvited. Reasonable notice is required.
- Neglect the place you rent.
- Threaten you to leave, or offer money to vacate the premises.
- Shut down utility supplies like gas, water or electricity.
- Allow other tenants to threaten you.
- Prevent your friends from visiting.
If you find yourself in a situation where you're having serious problems with your landlord, your local council has the power to prosecute them under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
Housing officers from your council may also be able to help you if your utilities are cut off because of your landlord, or if you are being subjected to harassment or unlawful eviction.
As a tenant, you have the right to adequate living facilities such as hot and cold water, heating, electricity, ventilation, toilet facilities and a drainage system. If the house you are in does not meet health and safety standards you may be able to take legal action.
At the same time, your landlord has these grounds for eviction:
- Mandatory eviction:
The owner of the house wishes to come back and live in the property. The owner has gone bankrupt and the house is being repossessed. You are more than two months in arrears with your rent. You refuse or delay vital maintenance work to the building.
- Discretionary eviction
A landlord can ask the court to decide if eviction is necessary if: you've broken the terms of your contract (i.e. trashed the place); you're consistently late in paying the rent; you lied about yourself to get the place; you're unemployed (in cases where having a job was a condition of the contract).
Your rights as a lodger
When you live in the same accomodation as your landlord, be it private or a B&B, your rights are often greatly reduced. They generally depend upon what you have agreed with your landlord. They do not have to apply for a court order to evict you, and the notice period can be as little as seven days. When living as a lodger you do not need to have a written agreement for the terms of your stay at the property, however it is probably wise to protect you from misunderstandings in the future.
This agreement should include:
- How much rent you need to pay and when you should pay it;
- How much notice you will be given if the rent is to be increased;
- How much notice you have to give before moving out;
- What services are provided and which you have to pay for, for example meals and laundry;
- Whether you can have guests in your room and if there are restrictions on how long they can stay;
- If your room is exclusively yours and if you can lock it;
- If you have to pay a deposit for the room and if it's returnable on terminating your stay.
Your rights as a council tenant
If your council runs an introductory tenancy scheme it has the power to evict you before the 12-month period or extend the scheme for a further six months.
As a secure council tenant:
- You can live in your home for the rest of your life as long as you follow the tenancy agreement;
- You can buy your home at a discount and pass it onto someone in your family when you die;
- You can take in lodgers and sub-let part of your home;
- Repairs are done at no cost to you;
- You are allowed to make improvements to your home and be paid for certain improvements if you move;
- You can help to manage your estate;
- You can exchange your property for another one;
- You can be consulted on housing management matters.
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