Most tenants who rent rooms, flats or houses from a private landlord have Assured-shorthold tenancies (AST). If you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), you have the 10 rights listed below. You have these rights even if you don’t have a written contract.
1. Information about your tenancy:If you ask your landlord, they must put the following in writing: the date your tenancy started, the length of your agreement, the amount of rent, and how they might increase it.
2. Address for your landlord:Your landlord must tell you where in England or Wales you can write to them.
3. Deciding who comes into your home:You have the right to decide who can come into your home. Your landlord cannot enter your home without your permission. You must allow reasonable access for inspections and repairs.
4. Not to be harassed in your home:
A small number of landlords make life difficult for tenants, for example by constantly visiting or by cutting off the gas and electricity. It is illegal to harass you.
5. Protection of your deposit:Your landlord must protect your tenancy deposit in a government-approved scheme. If they don’t do this, the court can order your landlord to pay you compensation. From 1 June 2019, your landlord cannot charge a deposit higher than 5 weeks’ rent. It is more difficult for your landlord to evict you if they charge you a deposit that is too high and/or don’t protect it.
6. To stay after a fixed-term ends:If your tenancy is for a fixed period you don’t have to move out when that period ends. If you stay, your rights as a tenant continue.
7. Eviction must be lawful: Your landlord can only evict you after serving the correct notice and getting a possession order from the court. If you don’t then move out, only bailiffs authorised by a court can evict you.
8. Repairs must be carried out:Your landlord is responsible for most repairs, including to the boiler, heating, roof and windows. Ask the landlord in writing. You should consider the risk that your landlord may take steps to evict you rather than do the work. If you get the council’s environmental health involved, you may get some protection from ‘revenge eviction’. It depends on what action is taken.
9. Your home must be safe: Your landlord must install a working smoke alarm on each floor of your home. They must also install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel appliance or burner. Solid fuels include coal and wood. Your landlord must arrange for any gas appliances to be inspected every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Your landlord may also have to make sure your home is fit to live in.
10. Record of rent payments:Your landlord only has to give you a rent book if you pay your rent weekly. If possible, pay your rent through a bank or post office, or by cheque, so you have a record of what you have paid. If you pay in cash, get receipts.
The 10 legal rights may not apply to you if your landlord lives in the same property as you, your tenancy started before 28 February 1997, or your accommodation was provided with your job.