Questions that a tenant may ask about his rights and responsibilities when renting privately.
Who is responsible for repairs?
Landlords have a legal obligation to repair and maintain the property while it is being rented and ensure that it is fit to live in. Generally your landlord will be responsible for maintaining and repairing the structure and exterior of the property, making sure that hot water installations and the water supply are working and that the installations to provide gas and electricity to the property are safe and working.
Tenants usually have responsibility for minor repairs, decoration and furnishings and maintaining the garden areas. To learn more about this area of the law and to report a repair, please visit our repairs page.
Who is responsible for decoration and carpets?
What is a gas safety certificate and should I have one?
Your landlord is legally required to have all gas appliances in the property (including gas boilers, gas wall heaters, gas fires, gas cookers etc) checked for safety by a Gas Safe registered contractor once every 12 months. Your landlord should give you a copy of the certificate either when you move into the rented property or within 28 days of a new check being carried out.
If your landlord has not provided you with a copy then request one from him or her. If your landlord does not provide you with a copy on request then you should contact the Health and Safety Executive who enforce gas safety laws.
What is an electrical safety certificate and should I have one?
Does my landlord have to provide smoke alarms?
Does my landlord have to provide a Carbon Monoxide alarm?
What is an energy performance certificate (EPC) and should I have one?
My landlord has a key to my property. Is he/she allowed to enter my home?
No. Your landlord should only enter your home with prior permission from you. Some landlords like to keep a key in case the tenant loses their key or the property is abandoned, but he/she should not use it to enter when you are living there. If your landlord repeatedly enters your home without your permission, it could be classed as harassment which can be a criminal offence. To find out more regarding this, please visit our harassment and illegal evictions page.
Under certain circumstances, such as fire or flood, or if you have left the property unlocked, then the landlord is allowed to enter without permission in the interests of protecting their property.
Should I be given a tenancy agreement?
There is no legal obligation for your landlord to provide you with a tenancy agreement unless you live in a licensed property (HMO or selective licensing - click to explore this further). However, it is good practice and in the interest of both parties for the landlord to provide a written tenancy agreement. By law if the tenant requests one the landlord must provide at the minimum a written statement showing some basic details such as the start date of the tenancy and the rent.
Note that housing benefit will not process a claim without a written agreement. Remember a tenancy agreement is a legally binding agreement and by signing it, a tenant is agreeing to the terms set out (so long as the terms are not deemed to be unfair). To learn more about tenancy agreements, please visit our pages concerning tenancy management.
Can my landlord evict me if I make a complaint?
There is no law to stop a landlord seeking to repossess in response to a complaint, but he/she would still have to give you two months written notice (a section 21 notice) or have legal grounds for evicting you such as non payment of rent (a section 8 notice). Assured shorthold tenants can be evicted under Section 21 at any point after the secure period of the tenancy has expired (usually 6 or 12 months) and the landlord does not need to provide a reason (this is sometimes called a "no fault eviction"). Section 21 is currently under review by the Government and could be changed. To find out more on eviction processes please visit our tenancy management page.
If the Housing Enforcement team are involved in your complaint and have served certain types of legal notices, your landlord may be unable to use a Section 21 notice. You can learn more about this by going to our retaliatory eviction page.
Does my landlord have to give me rent book?
Yes, if you pay your rent on a weekly basis. No, if you pay monthly. However, it is always a good idea to get a receipt each time you pay your rent and keep these in a safe place. We strongly recommend using electronic payments for your rent so there is a record of payments made and received. This can make disputes about rent easier to resolve.
My landlord is not doing repairs. Can I stop paying the rent?
We would never recommend that you stop paying your rent. This is because your landlord could use this as a reason to evict you from the property.
If your landlord will not do repairs then write to your landlord advising him of the repairs needed. If this does not resolve the problems or the repairs are of an urgent nature and arrangements are not made to carry out the works, contact us. We can enforce that your landlord carries out any necessary works to bring the property up to a good standard. Please visit our repairs page for further details of how and when to complain.
I want a council house. How do I get one?
I'm in rent arrears. What should I do?
The most important thing is not to ignore this. Speak to your landlord or letting agency and ask to meet with them in person. See if you can come to some arrangement about paying back the arrears based on what you can afford. Please visit our tenancy management page for more details on what to do.
I've been made homeless / I am at risk of being made homeless. What should I do?