TENANT RIGHTS UK: Detailed Guide

tenant rights

Tenants in privately rented residences in the UK have a number of rights that protect them from arbitrary evictions, rent increases, and other issues. This article explains the most important tenant rights, as well as your rights as a sitting tenant in the UK.

What Are My Rights as a Tenant in the UK?

You, like your landlord, have a number of rights and obligations as a tenant moving into private rented property. These rights and responsibilities are frequently defined in your tenancy agreement, so consult it first if you’re unsure. As a tenant, you have certain rights and duties, which are outlined in this guide.

Your tenancy agreement (which should be co-signed by you and your landlord before you move in) gives you a number of rights as a tenant in private rented property:

  • The right to live in a home that is both safe and well-maintained.
  • The right to a refund of your security deposit at the end of the tenancy (provided that you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement). If your tenancy began after 2007 and you have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, the landlord should protect your deposit for the life of the tenancy. You’ll be able to protest any charges that you believe are ‘excessively high’ as part of this.
  • The right to know your landlord’s identity
  • Right to live in a peaceful environment
  • The right to inspect the property’s energy performance certificate (EPC), which should be rated at least E unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • The right to be safeguarded from extortionate rents and evictions

If you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years, you have the right to a written agreement.

Under the Tenant Costs Act, effective of June 1, 2019, you won’t have to pay certain fees when starting a new tenancy (commonly referred to as the Tenant Fee Ban).

If you have a written tenancy agreement, it should be equitable and legally binding. Many sample tenancy agreements, such as this one from the the.GOV website, are available online. If you don’t believe you’ve received one from your landlord, contact them right away. Your rights will be safeguarded in this manner.

Similarly, if you’re reading this and aren’t sure who your landlord is, you can ask your letting agent or the person from whom you rented the property. Your landlord is required by law to tell you who they are, and if they do not do so within 21 days, they may be fined. If you have a tenancy agreement and are unsure, read it carefully because this is usually where the information is stated.

In addition to the foregoing, if you live in Scotland and have begun a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord is required to supply you with a tenant information pack. This is available as a PDF download.

Your Responsibilities as a Tenant

While a tenancy agreement outlines your rights, it also spells out your obligations as a tenant.

Unless there is an emergency, your landlord must give you at least 24 hours notice before entering the property.

As a result, as long as they request a visit at a fair time of day and have given you adequate notice, you must grant them access to conduct inspections and maintenance work. You won’t have to be present to give them access until they directly request it.

In addition, your responsibilities as a tenant include the following: 

  • Take care of the property while the landlord is away. This includes not causing any damage to the property while you live there and doing things like turning off the water at the mains while you’re away when the weather is cold or reporting any issues with the property promptly so the landlord can remedy them before they cause any severe damage.
  • Even if you’re having a disagreement with your landlord or waiting for repairs, pay your rent on time.
  • Other expenses and bills stated in your tenancy agreement must be paid as well. This will most certainly include, but not be limited to, council tax, electricity bills, and television license costs.
  • Pay for any damage you, other tenants, or visitors have caused (including family and friends)
  • Only sublet your property if your tenancy agreement expressly allows it.

If you fail to meet these obligations or are proven to be in violation of your tenancy agreement, your landlord has the legal authority to evict you. This is the last resort, and neither you nor the landlord wants to get to this point.

To avoid getting to that point, make sure you read your tenancy agreement in its entirety. And if you have any questions, contact your landlord or leasing agent.

Your Rights as a Sitting Tenant in the UK

If you’re trying to buy a house, the terms ‘sitting tenant’ and ‘tenant in situ’ may come up. We’ll go over what a “sitting tenant” is, their rights, and what to do if you’re trying to sell or acquire a property with tenants already in place.

Who is a Sitting Tenant?

A sitting tenant is a person who is renting a home that the owner (their landlord) has decided to sell. The sitting tenant will be able to stay in the property after the sale is completed if they have an ongoing agreement or contract with their landlord (the seller).

It’s no secret that the number of people renting in the UK is expanding. Thus, tenancy lengths are also increasing. This means there’s a higher chance of finding houses with tenants already in place, especially since some landlords are wanting to sell after the recent tax changes and the media’s constant (but unfounded) doom and gloom over buy-to-let.

What happens if you’re the only tenant in the house?

It might be a stressful moment if you are the tenant and your landlord informs you that they are planning to sell. Knowing where you stand and what your rights as a sitting tenant will help to alleviate some of that uncertainty.

Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent instances that a sitting tenant confronts in the UK before we get into your rights:

#1. There has been no change.

Rental homes are frequently sold to new landlords. This means your tenancy will likely continue with little to no changes to you or your existing agreement. You’ll have a new landlord, but everything else will remain the same.

#2. A new tenancy agreement

As previously stated, rentals are frequently sold between landlords. However, this does not mean your current tenancy agreement will remain unchanged. The new landlord may want to change the terms of your lease, particularly the duration and amount of rent you’re expected to pay (though you’ll have the right to pay “fair rent”).

Tenancy agreements are sometimes renewed simply to reflect a change in ownership, even though the contract’s contents fundamentally remain the same.

#3. Eviction

Naturally, this is not something you want to hear, but it is a possibility. The buyer may want to put their own tenants in the property or move in themselves.

Another reason for eviction could be that the buyer sees untapped potential in the property. Thus, he intends to make big alterations that will necessitate the building’s being vacant while renovations are completed.

What are the Rights of a Sitting Tenant?

When the buyer closes on the property, they will also become the owner of the tenancy agreement that the previous landlord had in place. The tenancy will most likely be an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy). This means the new landlord may have the right to evict the tenant by serving a Section 21 notice.

Not all tenancies, however, will be ASTs. If the tenancy began before 1989, the tenant would have the security of tenure. This means they will be able to stay in the property under the Rent Act 1977.

Although the term “sitting tenant” has become interchangeable with “tenant in situ” over the years, this is the true meaning of the term.

What about the property owner?

If the tenancy began before 1989, tenants have the right to remain in the house for ‘fair rent,’ but what rights does the new landlord have in this situation?

A landlord who takes on a long-term tenant will be allowed to examine the fair rent every two years (or sooner if significant improvements have been made), but they will not be able to do so themselves. A rent officer, on the other hand, will conduct the review.

Purchasing a Property with Occupied Tenants

If you want to buy a house or flat with tenants already living in it, you can expect to pay a lot less. For those willing and able to wait out the tenancy, this can be a great opportunity, as the property will revert to market value once the current sitting tenant has left.

When purchasing a property with tenants already in place, the most common issue buyers face is financing. Many lenders will refuse to lend on a property with occupied tenants. In this case, a cash purchase may be your only option. Things are changing though. This scenario occurs more frequently and lenders compete against one another in the current buy-to-let market.

Selling a Rental Property with Tenants Already in Place

While it may appear to be a difficult task, selling a property with a tenant in place is possible. It does not have to be as difficult as it may appear. This is especially true if you and your tenant have had a long and happy relationship.

Even if they don’t agree with you, the majority of tenants will respect your decision and allow you to proceed without incident. Of course, there will always be those who try to make life difficult for the landlord. But, that is simply the price of doing business. Even in such cases, all is not lost. And, going through the necessary steps to make the sale happen could well be worth the hassle.

According to recent data, the average time to sell from the first day of marketing to the day of completion is around 129 days. This equates to four months without rent if you serve notice and market your property as vacant. While you may have to sell for less, it’s crucial to do your homework before making a hasty decision. It’s possible that selling with tenants in place is the better option.

In summary,

Both landlords and tenants may have issues. So, it’s crucial to understand your rights in the event of a disagreement or problem. We hope that this article has helped you with what you need to know about your rights as a tenant.

Tenant Rights UK FAQs

What can a landlord not do?

Landlords are not allowed to enter rented houses without prior notice. They are not allowed to terminate a tenant’s tenancy before the lease expires. Mid-lease rent increases are not permissible unless the lease specifically allows it or the municipality allows it.

What are the rights of a tenant?

One of the rights granted to a tenant is Right Against Unfair Eviction: The Act states that a landlord cannot evict a tenant without good reason. In some areas, if a tenant is prepared to accept any modifications to the rent, he or she cannot be evicted.

Can a landlord evict you for no reason?

No, your landlord cannot evict you without cause. Eviction is a legal process, and if your landlord tells you they want to evict you without a legitimate basis, you won’t be able to get the eviction granted in court.

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One of the rights granted to a tenant is Right Against Unfair Eviction: The Act states that a landlord cannot evict a tenant without good reason. In some areas, if a tenant is prepared to accept any modifications to the rent, he or she cannot be evicted.

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No, your landlord cannot evict you without cause. Eviction is a legal process, and if your landlord tells you they want to evict you without a legitimate basis, you won't be able to get the eviction granted in court.

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