Renting a Property - it can be a minefield, here's our advice on your rights and the right way to ensure you get a good tenancy, here's Part 1 of a new short series of advice blogs on Renting a property and understanding your rights and respo...
1. Your Rights And Responsibilities
You have certain rights and responsibilities if you’re a tenant in privately rented property.
As a tenant, you have the right to:
* Live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair.
* Have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends - and in some circumstances have it protected.
* Challenge excessively high charges.
* 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.
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.
When you start a new tenancy
When you start a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord must give you:
A copy of the How to rent guide if you live in England.
A tenant information pack if you live in Scotland.
You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.
You must also:
* Take good care of the property, e.g. turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather.
* Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord.
* Pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, e.g. Council Tax or utility bills.
* Repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends.
* Only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it.
Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you don’t meet your responsibilities.
If your landlord lives outside the UK
Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if your landlord lives outside the UK and you pay £100 or more a week in rent directly to them.
You may have to deduct tax from your rent under HMRC’s ‘non-resident landlord scheme’.
2. Document checks
You must prove that you have a right to rent property in England if you’re:
* Starting a tenancy on or after 1 February 2016.
* Renting it as your main home.
You won’t have to prove your right to rent if you live in:
* Student accommodation, e.g. halls of residence
* Accommodation provided by your employer as part of your 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.
What your landlord must do
Your landlord (or letting agent) must:
* Check your original documents to make sure you have the right to rent a property in England
* Check the documents of any other adults living in the property
* Make copies of your documents and keep them until you leave the property
* Return your original documents to you once they’ve finished the check
Read the list of acceptable documents.
Your landlord must not discriminate against you, for example because of your nationality.
If you can’t prove your right to rent
You won’t be able to rent property if you can’t provide the acceptable documents.
If the Home Office has your documents
If the Home Office has your documents because of an outstanding case or appeal, ask your landlord to check with the Home Office.
Give your landlord your Home Office reference number to do the check.
If your circumstances mean you can still rent in the UK
In some circumstances, you can still rent even if you aren’t allowed to stay in the UK, for example if you’re:
* A victim of slavery
* Using the Home Office’s voluntary departure scheme
Check with the Home Office team that’s dealing with your case. Your landlord will have to check with the Home Office.
You won’t have a further check if you stay in the same property and either:
* You’re British or from an EEA country
* You have no time limit on your right to stay in the UK
Your landlord will have to make a repeat check if there’s a time limit on your right to stay in the UK.
Your landlord will ask to see your documents again just before your permission to stay runs out, or after 12 months, whichever is longer.