There are currently more than 9 million renters in the UK, and most people will rent at some point of their lives. But many tenants are unsure exactly what their rights are, and how they can stay protected while they’re renting their home.
In cities like London, it can sometimes feel like you’re renting in the wild west. Since supply is limited, rents are high, and some owners and letting agents expect the property to not look like it’s ever been lived in once it’s time for you to move out (even if they’ve been silly enough to invest in white carpet or cream sofas).
Luckily though, tenants have certain rights. And it’s important that you understand these rights before you sign on the dotted line. One of these rights is a rent book, which should include the name and address of your landlord, how much your rent is, when the rent is due, and any other payments that you need to make. This needs to be provided within 28 days of your tenancy start date.
The rent book should also inform you of your right to claim housing benefit, which is also known as the local housing allowance.
Another key right is freedom from illegal eviction and harassment. This includes actions like cutting off your electricity or water supply, changing the locks, touching your possessions, or any threatening physical or verbal behaviour. The law protects tenants in all of these circumstances, and you should immediately seek advice from the Environmental Health Department which you’ll find at your local council.
Tenants also have the right to at least 28 days notice before needing to move out. This includes the event of any court action. If your tenancy started after the 1st of April in 2007, the landlord also must give you a statement of tenancy terms, and if there is no tenancy agreement stating which party is responsible for any repairs to the property, the law covers the separate repairs that tenants and landlords are responsible for.
Your landlord should ideally have landlord insurance, which they can purchase from HomeLet, and this offers them comprehensive, affordable protection for a number of complications. It also means that in the event that tenants are unable to pay their rent, landlords will still receive payment.
Many tenants are unaware that they should also have insurance, as they assume that the landlord’s insurance will cover them in the event that there is any damage to their possessions. However this is rarely the case, and tenants should have their own, separate insurance that will cover the contents of the property, and all of their furniture and personal belongings.
It’s also a good idea for tenants to purchase insurance which would cover them in the event that they suddenly can’t work and therefore can’t pay their rent. These types of situations happen more often than you might think, and this insurance will give you peace of mind.