The most important Legal Advice For Tenants.
Well over 30% of homes in the UK are rented out. Most landlords are reasonable, but if you come up against a bad landlord, it can be hard to know what to do. This is where expert legal advice for tenants comes in.
Because it’s important to know that, like you, landlords may have rights – but they also have responsibilities under the law. If your landlord is failing to meet their responsibilities, your rights ensure you have some degree of safety.
Many tenants fear being evicted or otherwise penalised by their landlord for raising issues. If this sounds like it could be you, here is what you need to know about how the law treats you as a tenant and what to do about it:
What Are The Rights Of A Tenant In The UK?
The rights of a tenant as laid out in the law in the UK are the right to:
- Live in a safe property – that’s in a good state of repair. An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) should be supplied. Your landlord is required to maintain the property and keep it free from things like damp and mould.
- Have your deposit protected and returned – you have the right to challenge charges that you believe to be “excessively high” too.
- Know who your landlord is – so you can get in contact with them if necessary.
- Be free from harassment and discrimination – by both your landlord and any agents working on their behalf. This includes being harassed or discriminated against because of a wide range of characteristics and being free from unfair eviction and rent.
- Have a clear tenancy agreement – that lays out your rights and responsibilities, is fair, and complies with the relevant laws.
Can A Tenant Take Legal Action?
Yes, a tenant can be in a position to take legal action against their landlord. For example, if your landlord has failed to make repairs to a property that suffers from damp or mould after being notified of the problem, legal action might be the way forward.
However, it is a mistake to imagine that legal action should be your first approach to getting the problem resolved. Legal action is potentially expensive and time-consuming. Plus, the legal system also sometimes poorly receives being treated as a first-level response.
Before you consider legal action as a tenant, you should:
- Try to contact your landlord – there may have been some kind of breakdown in communications. Try to present your situation as calmly as possible.
- Consider mediation – the professional mediation process helps you negotiate with your landlord.
- Get specialist legal advice for tenants – most housing solicitors will provide at least some degree of legal advice for free after you provide some details about your situation.
Can I Sue My Landlord For Mould And Damp?
Yes, it is possible to sue your landlord if you have notified them of the problem and they have failed to rectify it to the point where the property is not fit for habitation.
Again though, your priority should normally be to try to resolve things before they go to court. If you want to seek restitution after the fact, it is certainly possible to sue – though also potentially costly. Specialist legal advice before you begin is a must.
What Can I Do If My Landlord Wants To Increase My Rent?
There are several options open to you if your landlord wants to increase your rent and you feel this is unfair or problematic to you. However, you shouldn’t stop paying your current rent because of this kind of problem as this may give your landlord grounds to evict you.
Beyond this, it is important to know that your landlord cannot increase your rent on a whim. There are rules that govern when your rent can be increased based on the type of rental agreement you have.
Secondly, if you have already started paying the new amount, it is likely too late to protest it. If you haven’t, you might try to:
- Discuss it with your landlord – some may be willing to roll the change back rather than lose you as a tenant.
- Negotiate with your landlord – perhaps you might show them proof that similar properties in the local area are not as expensive as the proposed new rent.
- Challenge the rent increase – this is potentially very difficult to do and can put you on bad terms with your landlord. Again, you should always seek legal advice first.
What Grounds Can A Landlord Use To Evict Me?
There is a long list of grounds – seventeen specific things altogether – that a landlord can use to evict you. All relate to you failing to pay the rent you have agreed to or failing to abide by other tenant responsibilities.
The most common reason for eviction is anti-social behaviour or that you have used a property for illegal purposes.
Why Understanding Your Tenancy Agreement Is Vital
The defining document in almost every landlord-tenant dispute is the tenancy agreement. Your TA should detail the type of rental agreement you have, who deals with what repairs, how rent increases can happen, how you can get your deposit back, and much more besides.
Before seeking legal advice, any tenant should have their tenancy agreement handy.
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