A letting agent’s role is to manage properties for private landlords. The responsibilities of a letting agent lies from sourcing tenants and collecting rents to full responsibility and management of the property. Apart from these duties and responsibilities a letting agent must think from a tenant’s side and should ensure they get their legal rights as a tenant.
This article points into the tenant rights that every tenants, landlords and letting agents should be aware about.
1. Tenancy Agreement
A tenant should make sure that they don’t move into any house or flat without having a tenancy agreement first. It is the contract between a tenant and a landlord.
Normally, it contains two sets of rules which are express terms and implied terms. The express terms are usually specific to a tenant’s rental arrangement which includes a tenant's name, landlord’s name, period of tenancy, amount of rent payable, etc. While, the 'Implied Terms' are obligations a tenant and landlord that may not be included in the tenancy agreement. These terms are given by law and are implied into all tenancy agreements. Get the tenancy agreement in writing. A proper contract will be fairly detailed, around 5 to 12 pages long, and full of rules. Rules keep everything in tact so as to protect tenants when conflicts arise. If the landlord or agency don’t want to provide a written tenancy agreement, this is a definite red flag.
2. Right to necessary info
A landlord is obliged to provide a tenant with certain information, including their name and address, an energy performance certificate, gas safety certificate and a how to rent guide.
3. Protection of deposits
It is mandated by law that ever since 2007 housing rental deposits must be protected by landlords in a government authorised scheme. This is a legal requirement to prevent landlords taking money they're not entitled to from a tenant. So, tenants should double check if their deposits are protected.
4. Assurance to tenants safety
A landlord must ensure that the lives of tenants are safe by checking the smoke alarms, furniture and electrical appliances. If they aren't, your landlord has a duty to replace them. So check for the relevant labels and if you can't see any fire-proof ones, you can argue you need new stuff.
If any are out of working order, you can point out section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and gently remind them it's a legal requirement that these all work properly.
5. No overnight rental hikes
It is mandatory for the landlord to state in the rental agreement about the rental hikes. If the landlord hikes your rents overnight, tenants should double check their contract. It will say if, when and by how much your landlord can increase the rent during the tenancy. Once the tenants reach the end of a fixed term contract, and if a landlord wants to increase the rent they must give tenants a month's notice prior to doing it.
6. Unfair deposit deductions
A landlord is not legally allowed to deduct money from a tenants rental deposits for every wear and tear of the property. There are certain legal implications that are categorised according to which a landlord can charge from a tenant. These include the length of tenancy, number of occupiers and the quality and condition of the house furnishing.
7. Ensure to deduct only right amount for damages
If the tenant may have accidently or otherwise have caused damage to the rented property or the furnishings, the landlord can claim money only necessary enough to cover the loss. Tenants must ensure that the landlord charges only the right amount for the loss of furnishings the landlord have provided you with.
8. Get the deposits back in 10 days when tenancy ends
If the period of tenancy ends, tenants should expect their deposit back within 10 days. The governmental rules make sure you get it within this time limit. If the tenant is in a disagreement with the landlord about deposit deduction, your money will be looked after in a scheme until the issue is sorted out (this may take longer than 10 days).
9. Thoroughly check your terms of rental agreement
When it comes to getting your deposit back at the end of your tenancy. Check to see if your contract stipulates a time frame within which your landlord must notify you of any deposit deductions.
If it does, and they exceed this time without having informed you of any deductions, you can argue they're not entitled to take anything off the deposit at all.
10. No right to evict without a court order
According to the Eviction Act 1977, a landlord cannot simply tell you to leave his property. If a landlord has used violence or threatened violence to gain entry to your property, they're breaking the law under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.