What are your legal rights as a tenant?
As a tenant, you have several rights under the law, including the right to:
- Live in a safe, well-maintained home
- Have your deposit protected in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDS). Your landlord must put your deposit in a TDP within 30 days of receipt. They must also return your deposit at the end of your tenancy if you have met the terms of your tenancy agreement
- Live in a home with a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of E
- Have a written agreement in place for your tenancy if it is for three or more years
- Know the name of your landlord
- Challenge any charges you believe are excessive
- Live in your home undisturbed
- Be protected from unfair eviction
- Not to have to pay specific fees. These fees include checking references and making an inventory and administration charges. Rules about fees are set out in the Tenant Fees Act 2019
What is Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act (1985)?
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act obliges landlords to keep their properties well-maintained and safe.
Under the Act, landlords must:
- Keep the exterior of their property in good repair, including drains, gutters, pipes, walls and roof.
- Keep installations for gas, electricity and water in good repair and in proper working order. This includes baths, toilets, sinks, basins, water tanks, electrical wiring, heating and more.
As a tenant, it is your responsibility to notify your landlord if you notice any problems. Your landlord must then arrange for the work to be carried out within ‘a reasonable length of time’. If they fail to do so, you can recover compensation from them.
Another relevant legislation, which came into force in 2019, is called the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. The Act does not give landlords any new obligations over and above those stated in the Landlord and Tenant Act. However, it does give tenants more power to take action when a property is unfit for human habitation.
Since the Homes Act came into force, a tenant can take court action against a landlord on the grounds of breach of contract. A court order may be taken against a landlord to rectify an issue and to pay compensation to their tenant.