Tenant's Toolkit

Rights and Responsibilities

When entering into a privately rented property, you have certain rights and responsibilities:

Your rights

As a tenant, you have the right to:

  • live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
  • have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends
  • have reliable access to water, gas, electricity and sanitation facilities.
  • challenge excessively high charges
  • know who your landlord is
  • live in the property undisturbed
  • see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

If you don’t know who your landlord is, write to the person or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can be fined If they don’t give you this information within 21 days.

Tip: When you start a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord must give you a copy of the How to rent guide if you live in England.

Note: If you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007, your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP).

Your responsibilities

You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.

You must also:

  • take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
  • pay the rent on time as agreed, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord
  • pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example: council Tax and utilities (including water), TV licence and telephone/internet bills
  • respect your neighbours, so don't make excessive noise, put rubbish in the wrong place or obstruct common areas
  • tell your landlord if you are going away for longer than 14 days because this will affect his/her insurance policy
  • repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
  • do basic maintenance such as changing light bulbs or smoke alarm batteries
  • tell your landlord when things need fixing to avoid bigger problems later - eg a leaking pipe, if not maintained, could make a ceiling collapse
  • only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it

You should not:

  • Engage in any illegal activity at the property.
  • Alter the property in any way, including hanging anything on the walls or redecorating without written permission from your landlord.
  • Use the property as a business.

Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you don’t meet your responsibilities.

Your landlord's responsibilities

Your landlord also has responsibilities to you, and must keep the property safe and free from health hazards.

Gas safety

The landlord must:

  • make sure gas equipment they supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue
  • give the tenant a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety

The landlord must make sure:

  • the electrical system is safe, for example sockets and light fittings
  • all appliances they supply are safe, for example cookers and kettles

Fire safety

The landlord must:

  • follow safety regulations
  • provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove)
  • check the tenant has access to escape routes at all times
  • make sure the furniture and furnishings they supply are fire safe
  • provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation (HMO)

Rent increases

Your tenancy agreement should include how and when the rent will be reviewed.

There are special rules for increasing protected (sometimes known as ‘regulated’) tenancy rents.

When your landlord can increase rent

For a periodic tenancy (rolling on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis) your landlord can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without your agreement.

For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) your landlord can only increase the rent if you agree. If you don’t agree, the rent can only be increased when the fixed term ends.

General rules around rent increases

For any tenancy:

  • your landlord must get your permission if they want to increase the rent by more than previously agreed
  • the rent increase must be fair and realistic, i.e. in line with average local rents

How your landlord must propose a rent increase

If the tenancy agreement lays down a procedure for increasing rent, your landlord must stick to this. Otherwise, your landlord can:

  • renew your tenancy agreement at the end of the fixed term, but with an increased rent
  • agree a rent increase with you and produce a written record of the agreement that you both sign
  • use a ‘Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent’ form, which increases the rent after the fixed term has ended

Your landlord must give you a minimum of one month’s notice (if you pay rent weekly or monthly). If you have a yearly tenancy, they must give you 6 months’ notice.