Many students are unaware of their rights and responsibilities as tenants but it is crucial before moving in to understand what these are.
Duty to look after the property
Although the property is not yours, it is important to treat it with care. Anything broken or treated without respect, is likely be deducted from your deposit at the end of the contract. Cleaning and repairs can be costly and you may find yourself with a bill for more than you think. By looking after the property you will not put yourself at risk of receiving a huge bill.
Right to repairs
You have the right to report any repairs to your landlord and have these fixed within a reasonable time. A reasonable time is proportional to the severity of the issue. For example, if you have a broken window from a burglary, you need this fixed that day to stop more burglars or the rain getting in but If you have a leaking tap, this is a job that could be done in a week.
Your landlord is responsible under housing law for some fundamental repairs under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This applies whether this is written in your tenancy agreement or not.
It means that your landlord is responsible for keeping in repair:
- the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
- basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
- water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.
In some cases your repair may not be covered under section 11. If the broken facility is provided by the landlord under the contract, there is likely an obligation for the landlord to fix it. landlord is providing you with the broken facilities under the contract. such as a washing machine or furniture, there is likely to be a contractual obligation on the landlord to fix these items.
Responsibility to report repairs
Before the landlord can begin repairs, you will need to send them an official report explaining the problem. It is far better to report the repair in writing by letter or email. This will formally inform the landlord of the issue even if it is urgent and will create a paper trail. If you do have a burst pipe or an urgent matter like this, then a telephone call before something in writing is appropriate.
Right to visit the property
Know that your landlord or agents do have the right to come into the property for reasonable purposes. It is within their rights to view the property’s condition, to show prospective tenants around and to do essential work or checks on the property.
This is not to say that landlords or agents can just call round whenever they like and just let themselves in. You must be notified of their proposed visit in advance. They should ring or email with a proposed time and should get your agreement before they visit. It is ok for the landlord agents to contact one person if you are part of a joint contract.
The landlord must give you what the law would call “reasonable notice” which is generally deemed to be 24 hours. If the time being proposed is not suitable, it is ok to decline the visit but you must ensure that you are not refusing unreasonably.
In the event of a genuine emergency, the landlord can attend the property with less than 24 hours’ notice but then again if you have a burst pipe, you will probably be happy to waive your right to notice to fix this quickly!
Right to key information at the start of the tenancy
At the start of your tenancy the landlord must give you:
- an Energy Performance Certificate for your home
- a gas safety certificate (if your home has gas appliances)
- a copy of the latest government guide: How to rent – if you have an assured shorthold tenancy that started or was renewed on or after 1 October 2015
Right to have your tenancy deposit protected
If you’re an assured shorthold tenant your landlord must protect your tenancy deposit with a UK government-approved deposit protection scheme. It should be protected within 30 days of being paid.
If your deposit should have been protected but wasn’t:
- you can claim tenancy deposit scheme compensation
- it can be more difficult for your landlord to end your tenancy
Your deposit should be returned after you leave if you’ve paid all the rent and caused no damage.
Health and safety rights
- have a gas safety check done every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- make sure any furniture they provide meets safety standards
- ensure electrical equipment they provide meets safety standards
Your landlord must install a smoke alarm on each floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors in any room with a coal fire or wood- burning stove. This doesn’t apply if you have a resident landlord.
Duty to allow you to quietly enjoy your property
Your landlord must leave you alone in your home to quietly enjoy it without unnecessary interference. This means that as long as you are fulfilling all of your obligations under the contract, your landlord must not harass you for rent, call round without giving reasonable notice, disconnect your utilities, threaten you in any way and in general affects your happiness as a tenant or make it difficult for you to stay there.