As a renter, you might think that the ball is pretty much always in your landlord’s court. In reality, you have more rights than you might know, and there’s a lot of things that your landlord cannot do without your permission.
Keep reading to learn more about your rights as a renter, and what your landlord cannot do.
10 things your landlord cannot do
It’s important to know your rights as a tenant, and some of the key things that your landlord isn’t legally allowed to do.
Landlords cannot discriminate when selecting tenants
When selecting tenants, landlords cannot discriminate against applicants based on age, sexuality, gender, pregnancy, disability, race, religion, or any other protected characteristics.
However, landlords can ‘lawfully discriminate’. For example, based on affordability, credit history, or bad references. As long as the reason for discrimination is not covered by protected characteristics, landlords can ‘lawfully discriminate’ for any reason.
Landlords can’t let themselves into your property without permission
This is, perhaps, one of the most neglected tenant rights, and something that landlords do all the time. However, tenants have the right to ‘live in quiet enjoyment’, meaning that landlords;
- Cannot turn up unannounced, without good reason or unless there is an emergency
- Force entry into the property/enter without permission
- Must give at least 24 hours’ written notice if they wish to enter the property, and must still gain permission from the tenant
Even if there is a clause in the tenancy agreement that allows the landlord to enter the property, the tenant still has the legal rights above.
Landlords can’t make tenants leave without good reason
Landlords cannot evict a tenant without good reason, especially if they are still within a fixed term agreement. In England, a landlord must usually give at least 2 months notice. However, you might have to leave much sooner if you are served with a Section 8 notice.
For more information about tenants’ eviction rights, visit the GOV.UK website.
Landlords cannot misuse security deposits
A landlord cannot misuse or withhold security deposits for everyday wear and tear. A security deposit is intended for actual damage to the property. Wear and tear generally covers such things as scuff marks, worn out carpets, repairs that haven’t yet been fixed, and worn out furniture.
They may, however, refuse to return all or part of the deposit for such things as cleaning, rent debt, lost or broken items from the inventory, or damage to the walls from hanging items (if your tenancy agreement prohibits this).
Landlords cannot raise rent whenever they like
After a tenant has signed a contract, rent cannot be raised without good cause, or within a fixed term agreement. Outside of a fixed term agreement, they must provide at least 1 month’s notice to tenants, and any increases must be fair; they cannot just pluck a random number out of thin air.
The tenant must agree to the rent increase, by signing a document known as a Rent Increase Agreement.
Extortionate late payment fees are not allowed
Whilst late fees for unpaid rent are allowed, they cannot be extortionate. In this situation, a tenant can take their landlord to court, where a judge will often side with the tenant, unless evidence can be provided to justify hefty late payments.
Landlords cannot use or withhold space in your rented property
When you sign on the dotted line, the space within your rented property is yours. Landlords cannot withhold any of the space, use it for their own purpose, or use it as storage.
Sometimes, when you move into a new rented property, you might find paint, tiles, or tools in a storage closet. Technically, this isn’t allowed but it can come in handy if you ever need to make touch ups throughout your tenancy as it will usually be the same things that the landlord used originally.
Whilst the above scenario is technically not allowed, it’s sometimes beneficial to pick your battles. However, if your landlord uses your space for larger items or for reasons that would cause hassle, it’s your right to ask for them to be removed.
Landlords cannot get lax with health and safety checks
Landlords are responsible for a variety of health and safety requirements, most of which must be checked fairly frequently. This is a legal requirement, and not complying could result in harm to the tenant, their possessions, or the property.
Read more about landlord health and safety requirements here.
Landlords can’t refuse essential repairs and maintenance
Landlords cannot refuse essential repairs and maintenance in your rented property.
This applies to:
- Structural repairs
- Supply of hot water
- Supply of gas
- Supply of electricity
- Sanitation (toilets, sinks, showers, baths, plumbing, etc.)
- Supply of heating
Repair and maintenance of other items supplied in your property, such as white goods and furniture, depends on your tenancy agreement. Some landlords will agree to repair, or replace broken items (broken, not damaged by the tenant), however check your agreement to be sure.
Landlords can’t include misleading or bogus clauses in tenancy agreements
Tenancy agreements must be fair, and clear to all parties, and not be intended to mislead the tenant in any way. Just because both parties have signed the agreement doesn’t mean that bogus clauses are legally binding or enforceable.
Unfair or misleading, or unlawful clauses can be challenged in court and be denied where appropriate. It’s best to check for such clauses before signing the agreement, but know that your statutory rights as a tenant will be upheld regardless.
How to deal with bad landlords
Bad landlords might impose some of the circumstances above on you, regardless of its legality. But know that there are simple things you can do to handle the situation.
Contact your landlord and discuss the situation
Before escalating a situation, it could be useful to simply contact your landlord and discuss the problem. In some cases, they may not be aware of a problem and could be willing to fix it.
Contact your estate agent or property management company
If contacting your landlord doesn’t fix the situation, and your landlord uses a property management company, contact them and explain the problem. They will usually be more aware of tenant rights than landlords, and will be able to advise landlords on the legal rights and responsibilities.
Take the matter to court
If your property management company cannot help, you may need to take the matter to court to resolve the situation. If tenant rights are on your side, it is likely that a judge will side with you, and ensure that the landlord takes appropriate action.
Property management in Leeds and West Yorkshire
Valor Properties offers a wide range of rental properties in Leeds, Bradford, and across West Yorkshire, as well as property management services and residential block management. If you’re a landlord or a prospective tenant in the West Yorkshire area, get in touch with us today.