Tenants rights have become particularly important in recent years, as an explosion in landlordism continues unabated – meeting as well an upwelling in demand for rental properties, brought on by a difficult housing market and a cost-of-living crisis. Whether you are new to rentals or an old hand, it is vital that you know your rights. What exactly are your rights as a tenant in the UK?
Protection from Unfair Eviction
The potential for eviction can weigh heavily over tenants – but landlords have limited rights with regard to eviction, at least within the confines of a fixed-term contract. Landlords can only evict over ‘antisocial behaviour’, non-payment of rent or via a specific ‘break clause’ that may be included in the contract.
Landlords cannot evict on a whim; they might try to evict you on the grounds of property damage, but if you have renters insurance you can cover the cost of any damage – and without proof of antisocial behaviour in the property, landlords can do little to evict you.
Challenges to Rent Increases
Generally speaking, landlords are not entitled to raise rent on whim either. This can change from contract to contract, but whichever way there is a process that needs to be followed – and notice given. Assured shorthold tenants are protected for the fixed term of their contract, but subject to potential rent increases if their contract rolls. If you disagree with the terms of your landlord’s proposed rent increase, you can reach a compromise, or appeal to a tribunal for a more formal route to rent control.
Information on Your Tenancy
You are also, at all times, entitled to know various pieces of information about your tenancy and the property you are renting. Your landlords are legally required to provide you with a gas safety certificate, certifying that the property has been checked over by an engineer and cleared for safe domestic use.
Landlords are also legally required to inform you of the property’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating; this has attained new prescience as a law in recent years, as rises in the cost of energy continue to affect the finances of millions across the country. Poor energy performance means higher bills, which could be understood as a stealth ‘tax’ incurred by living in inefficient accommodation.
With regard to EPC ratings, landlords are also beholden to something called MEES, or Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. If a property of theirs is rated below ‘E’, they are required by law to spend up to £3,500 on renovations to improve that rating.
Last but by no means least, you are entitled as a tenant to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of your rental property for the duration of your contract. This rule in common law covers you against overbearing, nuisance or even harassing behaviour from landlords. One more overt part of this rules is that landlords must always give notice before visiting the property. With respect to quiet enjoyment, you are also fully legally entitled to change the locks on the rental property – provided you replace them with the original locks upon the end of your contract.