The Rights And Wrongs Of Private Renting - Part 2

UK Government Tenancy regulations

Here's Part 2 of the Rights and Wrongs of Private renting...

3. Your landlord's safety responsibilities Your landlord must keep the property you live in safe and free from health hazards.

Gas safety Your landlord 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 you a copy of the gas safety check record before you move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety Your landlord 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 Your landlord 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 you have 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)

4. Repairs

Repairs in a Tenancy - who fixes what?

What your landlord must do

Your landlord is always 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

Your landlord is usually responsible for repairing common areas, e.g. staircases in blocks of flats. Check your tenancy agreement if you’re unsure.

Your responsibilities You should only carry out repairs if the tenancy agreement says you can. You can’t be forced to do repairs that are your landlord’s responsibility. If you damage another tenant’s flat, e.g. if water leaks into another flat from an overflowing bath, you’re responsible for paying for the repairs. You’re also responsible for paying to put right any damage caused by your family and friends.

If your property needs repairs Contact your landlord if you think repairs are needed. Do this straight away for faults that could damage health, e.g. faulty electrical wiring. Your landlord should tell you when you can expect the repairs to be done. You should carry on paying rent while you’re waiting.

If repairs aren’t done Contact the environmental health department at your local council for help. They must take action if they think the problems could harm you or cause a nuisance to others. Contact the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) if you’re in Scotland.

If your house isn’t fit to live in If you think your home’s unsafe, contact housing department at your local council. They’ll do a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment and must take action if they think your home has serious health and safety hazards. There are different housing standards and procedures in Scotland and Northern Ireland 5. Rent increases

Rent increases in a private tenancy

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

When your landlord can increase rent For a periodic tenancy (rolling on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis) your landlord can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without your agreement. For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) your landlord can only increase the rent if you agree. If you don’t agree, the rent can only be increased when the fixed term ends.

General rules around rent increases For any tenancy:

  • your landlord must get your permission if they want to increase the rent by more than previously agreed

  • the rent increase must be fair and realistic, ie in line with average local rents

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

  • renew your tenancy agreement at the end of the fixed term, but with an increased rent

  • agree a rent increase with you and produce a written record of the agreement that you both sign

  • use a ‘Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent’ form, which increases the rent after the fixed term has ended

Your landlord must give you a minimum of one month’s notice (if you pay rent weekly or monthly). If you have a yearly tenancy, they must give you 6 months’ notice.

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