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Landlords Need To Know Their Tenants Rights

27 Jun 2014
Landlords Need To Know Their Tenants Rights

When it comes to letting a property, landlords must be fully aware of not only their own rights, but their tenants rights too.

Tenants rights are based on transparency; landlords have to ensure they being are being fully compliant and have to be prepared to demonstrate evidence of all compliance at any time.

Issues such as landlord identity, Deposit Protection Schemes (DPS) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) are all basic items that some landlords do not fully adhere to.

Tenants have the right to know the identity of their landlord, even if the property is managed by an agent. Just as landlords do their due diligence on tenants, it is also recommended that the tenant follows the same process.

A DPS holds the tenants deposit (usually one month’s rent) in an account that cannot be accessed by either party until the end of the tenancy term. This provides reassurance to both parties that the money has not been touched and is available in order to asses any damage borne by the tenant that can be extracted by the landlord at the end of the tenancy should it be necessary.

If the landlord does not protect the deposit within 30 days of the tenancy commencing in a DPS, the tenant has the right to claim compensation of up to three times the amount. Therefore, it is vitally important the landlords are fully aware of the importance of using a DPS.

The tenant is also entitled to a copy of the property’s gas safety certificate and the EPC. This is to ensure the tenant that they property is safe and all utilities are installed correctly by professional engineers.

When it comes to repairs and maintenance of the property and its furnished appliances, this falls under the remit of the landlord. A tenant is entitled to expect their landlord to carry out most major repairs. Landlords are expected to resolve any issues with the supply of gas, electric or water as soon as possible.

When it comes to landlords inspecting the property, the tenant is entitled to 24 hours notice of any inspection by either the landlord or agent. Also, when it comes to eviction, a tenant is protected; a landlord cannot evict a tenant except with a court order.

Tenants and landlords do occasionally fall out for many reasons. It is usually down to issues with rent payment, damp, mould, general poor upkeep of the property and lack of a DPS.

If a tenant notices that a landlord may not be fully compliant in the aforementioned areas, here is a step by step guide on how to address the issue:

  • Firstly, speak to your landlord or agent. Try to keep notes of correspondence including dates and time. This includes calls, emails and texts.
  •  If your complaint does not relate to a serious health and safety issue, but rather you are generally unhappy with the condition of the property, then check your tenancy agreement to see what your landlord’s obligations are.
  • Check to see whether your landlord is a member of the Housing Ombudsman Service – if so, you could make a complaint and try to resolve matters with the help of the impartial Ombudsman.
  • If your property is hazardous, and your landlord won’t repair it, then complain to your Local Authority – they have legal powers to force a landlord to act.
  • If your landlord changes the locks or forcibly evicts you without a court order, even if you are in rent arrears, then you should immediately contact the police.
  • If you are being harassed by your landlord, then make a complaint to your Local Authority or the Police.

Tenants face a range of issues, and it can be hard to know where to turn to. There have been issues around the unwillingness of local authorities to act, or delays in action being taken. Also, as there is no one statutory framework dealing with the issue of private rental properties, the law in this area can be complex or difficult to understand.

A problem to spin off from these issues are centred around funding; many tenants cannot afford legal representation or the cost is disproportionate to the issues, and there is little or no legal aid available

We would advise tenants to not accept and put up with issues because leaving the property is not an option if they have nowhere else to go or cannot afford alternative accommodation. There is always a way to address the issue for the best outcome of all parties.

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