Renting is an extremely common aspect to modern living, especially as house prices continue to grow out of reach of potential first-time buyers. With one in five of us renting from a private landlord, knowing our rights as tenants is key – as well as the various ways in which landlords might be infringing those rights. Here are three ways your landlord could be breaking the law.
Failure to Protect Your Tenancy Deposit
This breach of law is particularly common amongst private landlords, where there is no overarching administrative structure to the tenancy. Landlords are legally required to protect rental deposits in a tenancy deposit scheme, which ensures landlords cannot access, spend or directly profit from the deposit. The scheme also ensures the prompt re-payment of your deposit after your tenancy, subject to joint agreement of any costs to be deducted.
Failure to Provide the Right to Quiet Enjoyment
‘Quiet enjoyment’ is a concept enshrined in common law, that protects a tenant’s right to live in a rented home without undue interruption. A landlord can transgress in a number of ways: they may visit the property frequently without advance notice; they may carry out significant and interruptive works without prior notice; they may organise regular and interruptive viewings towards the end of your tenancy.
Poor Health and Safety Management
Of course, not all landlord visits are interruptive, and an amicable and pro-active relationship with a landlord can go a long way to a peaceable tenancy. However, some landlords can travel too far in the opposite direction, to the point of legality. Landlords with a particularly hands-off approach may be causing you a significant risk of harm due to health and safety risks; they are legally required to maintain the property’s structural integrity, carry out repairs and organise an annual gas safety check.
What Can You Do to Address These Issues?
Often, direct contact with your landlord can clear up any questions you may have about your tenancy. You can ask for evidence of your deposit being held by a tenancy deposit scheme, to ensure your money is safe and that legal process will be enacted on your moving-out. You can also ask about the last time your property received an annual gas safety check.
Tenant’s insurance is a useful way to protect your home’s assets in the meantime. Poor maintenance may lead to the increased likelihood of a fire or water leak; if something occurs before meaningful action is taken with your landlord, having insurance can keep the value of your belongings safe.
If you believe your landlord is acting illegally, there is a variety of routes you can go down. Your landlord may be a member of a trading body like the National Landlords’ Association, who might be able to help you. Your local council will have a Tenancy Relations Officer you can contact to discuss your situation. There are also independent housing charities that can help you agitate for change with regard to your private landlord or letting agency.