Advice for landlords and tenants

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Private Rented Accommodation

The Direct Gov provides guidance for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. It provides a checklist and more detailed information on each stage of the process, including:

  • What to look out for before renting.
  • Living in a rented home.
  • What happens at the end of a tenancy.
  • What to do if things go wrong.
  • The current versions of documentation landlords should issue tenants at the beginning of tenancies - such as the how to rent guide and the energy performance certification.
  • Details of deposit schemes.

You can find a copy of this guidance at www.gov.uk/private-renting/your-rights-and-responsibilities.

You can also seek advice from our Housing Services Team on 01684 272212.

Other useful articles for landlords and tenants include:


General tenant rights and responsibilities


As a tenant, you have the right to:

  • Live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair.
  • Receive a copy of the how to rent guide from the landlord at the start of a tenancy.
  • Know who your landlord is.
  • Live in the property undisturbed.
  • See an energy performance certificate for the property.
  • Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent.
  • Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years.
  • Have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends - and in some circumstances have it protected.
  • Challenge excessively high charges.
  • See a gas safety certificate for the property.
  • If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.
  • If you don’t know who your landlord is, write to the person or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can be fined if they don’t give you this information within 21 days.
     

Tenants should:

  • Take good care of the property, e.g. turn off the water at the mains if they’re away in cold weather.
  • Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or they’re in dispute with their landlord.
  • Pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, e.g. Council Tax or utility bills.
  • Repair or pay for any damage caused by themselves, their family or friends.
  • Only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or landlord allows it.

Landlords have the right to take legal action to evict tenants if tenants don’t meet their responsibilities.


When a new tenancy is started - right to rent

Tenants must prove they have a right to rent property in England if they:

  • Start a tenancy on or after 1 February 2016.
  • And will be renting it as their main home.
     

Exemptions

Tenants won’t have to prove their right to rent if they live in:

  • Student accommodation, e.g. halls of residence.
  • Accommodation provided by their employer as part of their job or training.
  • Social housing.
  • Accommodation provided by the council.
  • Hostels and refuges.
  • A care home, hospital or hospice.
  • Accommodation with a lease of 7 or more years.

Check the full list of exemptions from the right to rent property checks on the Direct Gov website.

Landlords (or letting agent) must:

  • Check original documents to make sure prospective tenants have the right to rent a property in England.
  • Check the documents of any other adults living in the property.
  • Make copies of tenants’ documents and keep them until they leave the property.
  • Return their tenants’ original documents once they’ve finished the check.

You can check the list of documents on the direct gov website. Landlords must not discriminate against prospective tenants, for example because of their nationality.
 

If tenants cannot prove their right to rent

Tenants won’t be able to rent property if they can’t provide the acceptable documents. If the Home Office has your documents because of an outstanding case or appeal, landlords can check with the Home Office.

Tenants should give their prospective landlord their Home Office reference number to do the check.
 

Repeat checks

Tenants won’t have a further check if they stay in the same property and are either:

  • British or from an EEA country.
  • Have no time limit on their right to stay in the UK.

Landlords will have to make a repeat check if there’s a time limit on their tenants’ right to stay in the UK.

Landlords must ask to see documents again just before the permission to stay runs out, or after 12 months following the initial check, whichever is longer.
 

If landlords live outside the UK

Tenants should contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if a landlord lives outside the UK and the rent is £100 or more a week in rent and paid directly to them.

Tenants may have to deduct tax from the rent under HMRC’s ‘non-resident landlord scheme’.


Landlord's safety responsibilities

Landlords must keep the property they rent safe and free from health hazards.
 

Gas safety

Landlords must:

  • Make sure gas equipment they supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • Have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue.
  • Give the tenant a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check.
     

Electrical safety

Landlords must make sure:

  • The electrical system is safe, e.g. sockets and light fittings.
  • All appliances they supply are safe, e.g. cookers and kettles.
     

Fire safety

Landlords must:

  • Follow safety regulations.
  • Provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove).
  • Check there is access to escape routes at all times.
  • Make sure the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe.
  • Provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO).
     

Repairs

Landlords are responsible for repairs to:

  • The property’s structure and exterior.
  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains.
  • Heating and hot water.
  • Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation.
  • Electrical wiring.
  • Any damage they cause by attempting repairs.
  • Landlords are usually responsible for repairing common areas, e.g. staircases in blocks of flats. Check tenancy agreements if you’re unsure.
  • Tenants can’t be forced to do repairs that are the landlord’s responsibility.
     

Tenants

  • Tenants should only carry out repairs if the tenancy agreement states they can.
  • If tenants damage another tenant’s flat, e.g. if water leaks into another flat from an overflowing bath, the tenant is responsible for paying for the repairs. Tenants are also responsible for paying to put right any damage caused by their family and friends.
  • Tenants must give their landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Landlords have to give at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.
     

If a property needs repairs:

  • Tenants should contact their landlord if they think repairs are needed. This should be done straight away for faults that could damage health, e.g. faulty electrical wiring.
  • Landlords should tell tenants when repairs can be expected to be done. Tenants should carry on paying rent while awaiting repairs.
     

If repairs aren’t done

Tenants can contact the environmental health department at Tewkesbury Borough Council for help. They must take action if they think the problems could harm the tenant or cause a nuisance to others.
 

If your house isn’t fit to live in

If tenants think their home’s unsafe, they should contact the environmental health team at Tewkesbury Borough Council.  They’ll do a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment and must take action if they think the home has serious health and safety hazards.

In some new tenancies there is additional protection from eviction when properties are in disrepair. You can find details of this at: Retaliatory Eviction and the Deregulation Act 2015.


Rent and rent arrears

Landlords can evict tenants following legal process if they fall behind with their rent or break the terms of their tenancy - and tenants could lose their homes.

Tenants can get advice if they have rent arrears or having difficulty in paying your rent from Housing Services in Tewkesbury Borough Council.
 

Paying rent in your new home if you are on a low income

If you have received an offer of a deposit loan and need financial assistance from Tewkesbury Borough to access a property - please refer to the Housing help to find private rented accommodation section.

If you are on a low income, you may be able to claim housing payments for your new home. This is known as Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The LHA for a property is based on the area the property is in and your household size, and is the maximum amount of help you can get towards paying your rent. LHA will not cover the rent if the property is larger than you and your household need, so remember this when you are looking for properties.

Find out about Local Housing Allowance at lha-direct.voa.gov.uk.

The assistance we can offer is outlined on the Housing options and homelessness section of this website.
 

Rent increases

Tenancy agreements should include how and when the rent will be reviewed. There are special rules for increasing protected (sometimes known as ‘regulated’) tenancy rents.
 

When landlords can increase rent

For a periodic tenancy (rolling on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis) landlords can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without their tenant’s agreement.

For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) landlords can only increase the rent if the tenant agrees. If the tenant doesn’t agree, the rent can only be increased when the fixed term ends.

For any tenancy:

  • Landlords must get their tenants’ permission if they want to increase the rent by more than previously agreed.
  • The rent increase must be fair and realistic, i.e. in line with average local rents.
     

How landlords must propose a rent increase

If the tenancy agreement lays down a procedure for increasing rent, landlords must stick to this. Otherwise, landlords can:

  • Renew tenancy agreements at the end of the fixed term, but with an increased rent.
  • Agree a rent increase with the tenant and produce a written record of the agreement which is signed by both parties.
  • Use a ‘Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent’ form, which increases the rent after the fixed term has ended.

Landlords must give you a minimum of one month’s notice (if rent is paid weekly or monthly). In the case of a yearly tenancy, Landlords must give tenants 6 months’ notice.
 

Rent disputes

Tenants can apply to a tribunal to decide on certain rent disputes in England.
 

Rent increase

Tenants can only apply to the tribunal if:

  • They have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy.
  • The rent has been increased as part of a ‘section 13 procedure’ - the landlord’s letter will say if it has, and will tell the tenant more about applying to the tribunal.

The tenant must apply before the new rent is due to start.
 

New rental terms

Tenants can ask the tribunal to decide new rental terms when they renew their tenancy.
 

Rent set by rent officer

Tenants can contact the Valuation Office Agency if they have a regulated or protected tenancy.

If a rent officer has set the tenant’s rent before, the only way to increase it is to have a rent officer set a new rent. If a rent officer hasn’t set the rent before, they can set a rent limit. The landlord can’t charge more.

Tenants can appeal against a rent officer’s decision. They may pass cases to a tribunal, which can make a final decision on the rent.
 

If tenants think their rent is high when they start a tenancy

Tenants may be able to apply to the tribunal. Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service for advice. Tenants must apply within 6 weeks of moving in.
 

Deposits

Tenants may have to pay a deposit before you move in. Contact your Tewkesbury Borough council about deposit loans or rent in advance if you are you’re looking for a new tenancy because you are threatened with homelessness and having difficulty paying the deposit on a prospective tenancy.
 

Deposit protection

Landlords must put tenant’s deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme if you they have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) which started after 6 April 2007 (in England and Wales).

Contact the deposit protection scheme your landlord used if you can’t get your deposit back.


Houses in multiple occupation

Your home is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

  • At least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household.
  • You share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.
     

Your home is a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • It’s at least 3 storeys high.
  • At least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household.
  • You share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.
     

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • Married or living together - including people in same-sex relationships.
  • Relatives or half-relatives, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings.
  • Step-parents and step-children.
     

Standards, obligations and how to complain

If you live in a large HMO, your landlord must meet certain standards and obligations.  Tenants can contact the Environmental Health Service in Tewkesbury Borough Council to report hazards in their HMO. The council is responsible for enforcing HMO standards and can make a landlord take action to correct any problems.

  • All large HMOs need a licence from the local council.
  • You may be able to apply to a tribunal to reclaim some of your rent if your landlord has been prosecuted by the council for running an unlicensed HMO.
  • It can also create a ‘selective licensing scheme’ if people in several houses in an area are behaving anti-socially. All landlords of properties in that area must then have a licence to show they’re meeting minimum standards.

Tenancy types


Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)

The most common form of private rented tenancy is an AST. Most new tenancies are automatically this type.

A tenancy can be an AST if all of the following apply:

  • The tenancy is through a private landlord (not a local council or housing association).
  • The tenancy started on or after 15 January 1989.
  • The property is the tenant’s main accommodation
  • The landlord doesn’t live in the property.
     

A tenancy can’t be an AST if:

  • It began or was agreed before 15 January 1989.
  • The rent is more than £100,000 a year.
  • The rent is less than £250 a year (less than £1,000 in London).
  • It’s a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises.
  • The property is a holiday let.
  • The landlord is a local council.

If you want advice on your tenancy please contact Housing Services.


Other tenancies

There are other tenancies that aren’t as common as ASTs, including:
 

Excluded tenancies or licences

An excluded tenancy or licence may exist if the tenant lodges with their landlord and shares rooms with them, like a kitchen or bathroom. These tenants usually have less protection from eviction with this type of agreement.
 

Assured tenancies

Tenancies starting between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 may be assured. Tenants will have increased protection from eviction with this type of agreement.
 

Regulated tenancies

Tenancies starting before 15 January 1989 may be regulated. You’ll have increased protection from eviction and can apply for a ‘fair rent’.
 

If things go wrong

There are often legal protections in place for the most common problems that you may experience during the tenancy – the following links will tell you what they are or where to look for help:

  • If you are having financial problems, or are falling into rent arrears, speak to your landlord as they may be helpful, and are likely to be more sympathetic if you talk to them about any difficulties early on. Should you need further help contact Citizens Advice or Shelter as soon as possible.
  • If the property is in an unsafe condition and your landlord won’t repair it - contact Tewkesbury Borough Council.  Local authorities have powers to make landlords deal with serious health and safety hazards.
  • If you have a serious complaint that has been checked by your local authority, your landlord cannot evict you for six months, and must repair the fault.
  • Unannounced visits and harassment from your landlord - contact Housing Services at Tewkesbury Borough Council, or if more urgent dial 999.
  • If you are being forced out illegally, contact the police. If your landlord wants you to leave the property, they must notify you in writing, with the right amount of notice - you can only be legally removed from the property with a court order.

Further advice and information