Being a tenant comes with certain obligations. The tenancy agreement you signed before moving into the property will provide detailed information about your obligations, as well as those of the landlord.
Types of tenancy agreement
There are different types of tenancy agreement, the most common being the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Your tenancy will be an AST if all of the criteria are met:
- Your tenancy started on or after 15th January 1989
- The property you rent is private
- The property is your main accommodation
- Your landlord does not live in the property
If you share the property with others, your tenancy will likely be a Joint and Several Liability Tenancy, meaning that you are all jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent. For instance, if one person falls behind in their rent, you are all responsible for paying it, or any arrears that arise because of it.
You can find more information about the different types of tenancy on the Gov.uk website.
Most private landlords and letting agents require a deposit to be paid by tenants before moving into a property, to ensure that upon vacating, it will be returned in the same condition it was at the start.
The deposit must be held in one of the three government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes.
Once the landlord or letting agent has received the deposit, they have 30 days to provide details of the scheme being used, including:
- The name and contact details of the scheme and its dispute resolution service
- How the deposit is protected (some schemes hold the deposit, and others insure it)
- Reasons they would make deductions from the deposit
- How to apply to get the deposit back
- The dispute process for deposits
Deductions can be made if damage beyond ‘reasonable wear and tear’ (the relevant scheme will provide guidance on this) is sustained to the property, but they must be agreed by both parties (the landlord or letting agent and the tenant or tenants).
If there is a dispute about deductions between the landlord or agent and the tenant, the deposit will be protected by the scheme until the issue is resolved, so long as a request for adjudication is made within 3 months of the tenancy ending.
If you are unsure if your deposit has been placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme ask your landlord or letting agent, or contact the schemes directly.
Your rights as a tenant
- To live in a safe and secure property, which is in a good state of repair – including the structure and exterior of the property, drains and pipes, gutters, windows, sanitary installations (baths, basins, toilets and sinks) and gas, water and electric installations
- To be treated fairly regardless of disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation
- Be protected from unfair rent and unfair eviction
- General and emergency repairs must be carried out by the landlord, agent or their appointed person - this does not include repairs for damage caused by tenants
- To have contact details for the landlord or managing agent
- To live in the property undisturbed – the landlord or agent must provide at least 24 hours notice to visit the property, at a reasonable time of day, unless there is an emergency
- The landlord must provide energy performance certificates for the property
- If there is a gas supply to the property, the landlord must provide a valid gas safety certificate throughout the tenancy
- The landlord must ensure that any supplied furniture and furnishings are compliant with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations 1998.
- Reasonable adjustments should be allowed to accommodate tenants with disabilities
- The landlord may not change the locks without informing you and providing a new set of keys
- If the property becomes uninhabitable due to damage caused by insured risk not caused by the tenant, the landlord should waive the rent until the property is fit for occupation. The landlord is not required to find you, or pay for, alternative accomodation – check that a clause to this effect is included in the tenancy agreement
- The landlord should give you proper notice to end the tenancy in line with the type of tenancy and the terms of the tenancy agreement
Your responsibilities as a tenant
- Pay the agreed rent on time, even if repairs are needed or there is a dispute with the landlord
- Pay any utility bills not included in the rent, including TV licence
- Not undertake any illegal or immoral activity within the property or its grounds
- Look after the property and notify the landlord or agent of any issues or necessary repairs
- Acquire permission from the landlord before carrying out any decoration or minor repairs
- Do not sublet or take in a lodger, without the express permission of the landlord
- Do not smoke inside the property, unless agreed in writing by the landlord
- Do not keep pets at the property, unless agreed in writing by the landlord
- Understand how to operate the boiler, heating and other appliances
- Be aware of the location of the stop cock, fuse box and any meters
- Regularly test any fire and smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors
- Be flexible and allow the landlord, agent and appointed workmen or engineers access to the property when required, when 24 hours’ notice has been given, or there is an emergency
- Be considerate to neighbours
- Adhere to any rules and regulations of the building as a whole, if renting a flat in a block
- Notify the landlord or agent if you are planning to be away from the property for longer than the period stipulated in the tenancy agreement, as this may affect their insurance policy
- Give the required amount of notice to vacate the property – check the tenancy agreement for confirmation
- Return the property in at least the same condition as at the start notwithstanding fair wear and tear