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Tenancy disputes

Landlord

Being a landlord is not as simple as just letting people move into your property in exchange for payment. You need to ensure that any property you let is safe and in good condition; as a result you have a number of responsibilities to your tenants.

Your responsibilities as a landlord include:

  • carrying out certain repairs on your properties and ensuring that they are safe to live in
  • protecting your tenants’ deposits in an approved tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme
  • following fair procedures when dealing with your tenants

Tenant

The law on tenancies tries to balance the rights of tenants and landlords to ensure that both groups are fairly treated. Each side also has certain responsibilities towards the other.

If you are a tenant, you have the right to:

  • have the property you are living in be safe and in good condition

Your landlord is responsible for many of the repairs to the property, and must ensure that it is a safe place to live (see the Repairs section below for more information).

  • live in the property undisturbed

This means that your landlord cannot bother you continuously while you are living in the property. If they wish to visit the property to carry out repairs or for an inspection, they must give you 24 hours’ notice to do so, and they must arrange to visit at a reasonable time. The only exception is if they need to undertake emergency repairs, in which case they can access the property immediately.

  • be aware of who your landlord is

If you are not sure who your landlord is, you can write to the last person to collect your rent to ask. Request the landlord’s full name and address, and be sure to send the letter by recorded delivery and retain a copy.

If there is no response within 21 days, this is a criminal offence and the landlord could face a fine.

  • challenge any charges you think are too high

In some properties, you may pay your landlord for the energy you use. If you think you are being charged too much, you have the right to challenge your landlord on this. You can ask them for an explanation of how they work out the charges.

If your energy usage is based on a meter, your landlord can only charge you at the domestic rate for the units you have used, plus your share of any standing charge they pay. If there is no meter, they must work out your proportion of the bill fairly and be able to show you how they have done it.

  • view an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property

An Energy Performance Certificate shows the energy efficiency and typical energy costs for a property. It also suggests how money could be saved and gives the property a rating for its level of energy efficiency. Your landlord or letting agent should show the certificate to you.

  • protection against unfair eviction and unreasonable rent increases

There are processes that your landlord must follow if they wish to evict you, and if they fail to do so then you can take action against them (see the Ending a Tenancy section below). They also have to obey certain rules about how much they can increase your rent, and when (see the Rent section below).

  • receive a written tenancy agreement for a fixed-term tenancy for more than 3 years

In most cases, you will not have any right to a written copy of the tenancy agreement. However, if you are in a fixed-term tenancy lasting longer than 3 years, you have the legal entitlement to receive your tenancy agreement in writing.

  • get your deposit back after the end of the tenancy, and have it protected when applicable

Your landlord cannot simply keep your deposit or part of your deposit without a good reason, and in most cases they must put it in a tenancy deposit protection scheme soon after receiving it (see the Deposits section below for further details).

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, there is a significant risk of disputes arising in relation to your residential or business tenancy.

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