Renting rights for private tenants

Private tenants have rights in addition to those that are a consequence of their security of tenure, regardless of the type of their tenancy.

This content applies to England

Name and address of the landlord

Private tenants have a legal right to know the name and address of their landlord. A letter, requesting a written statement of the landlord's name and address, can be sent to the landlord's agent, pointing out that the tenant has a right to this information under section 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Tenants also have a right to obtain the names and addresses of directors if the landlord is a company, and a right to be informed of any sale or transfer to a new landlord.[1]

Details of a landlord can also be obtained from the Land Registry. Finding out information about the landlord could be important if there is any dispute over repairs or the return of the deposit.

If the landlord does not provide an address in England or Wales for services of notices by the tenant, rent is not lawfully due from the tenant.[2] However, as soon as an address is provided, rent then becomes due from the start of the tenancy.

Right to a rent book for tenants who pay weekly

It is a legal requirement for landlords to provide a rent book for tenants who pay rent weekly, unless board forms a substantial part of the rent.[3]

It is good practice for all tenants and licensees to have a rent book as a record of rent paid.

The rent book, or similar document, must contain the name and address of the landlord, the rent payable and state the type of tenancy granted. Details of all the requirements for rent books can be found in three statutory instruments.[4]

If a landlord fails to provide a rent book, the tenant should notify the local authority's tenancy relations officer since it is a criminal offence for which a landlord can be fined.

If a tenant is not entitled to a rent book, it is advisable to ask the landlord to provide receipts or to accept payment by cheque rather than cash; this will provide proof of payment in the event of a dispute over rent arrears

Repairs in a rented home

Landlords are responsible for keeping the structure and exterior of the property free from disrepair and to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the property for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water.[5]

Tenant responsibilities usually only extend to the decorative and interior parts of the premises.

Safety in a rented home

Private landlords must ensure that:

  • all gas appliances and flues are in a safe condition

  • an annual gas safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer has been carried out

  • they have a valid gas safety certificate[6]

Furniture provided in private rented accommodation, that has been let since 1 March 1993, must comply with fire safety requirements.[7]

Houses in multiple occupation are covered by extra rules concerning fire safety and provision of facilities.[8]

Harassment and illegal eviction

If a landlord tries to make life difficult for tenants because they want them to leave, perhaps by withdrawing services such as gas and electricity, denying access to part of the accommodation or by threatening violence, this is known as harassment.

If the landlord actually throws a tenant out, changes the locks while they are out, or otherwise gets a tenant to leave without serving the correct notice or going through the proper legal procedure, this is illegal eviction.

Harassment and illegal eviction are criminal offences. Landlords can be prosecuted under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and/or the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

People in this situation should contact the tenancy relations officer (or equivalent) at their local authority, who can take action on their behalf, or they could take action themselves.

Unlawful discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits unlawful discrimination when renting or managing residential accommodation.

Discrimination can take the form of direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation of tenants, or prospective tenants.

Fees when renting private accommodation

Private landlords and letting agents are prohibited from charging a tenant, licensee or other 'relevant person' a fee, other than a 'permitted payment', in connection with:[9]

  • an assured shorthold tenancy

  • a licence to occupy housing (including to a lodger)

  • a tenancy granted to a student by a specified educational institution

The permitted payments are:[10]

  • rent

  • tenancy deposit (up to maximum of five or six weeks’ rent)

  • holding deposit (up to maximum of one week’s rent)

  • a fee in the event of a ‘relevant default’

  • damages for breach of agreement

  • in connection with tenant’s request for a variation, assignment, or surrender of a tenancy

  • in respect of council tax, utilities, communication services and TV licence

Last updated: 24 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    ss.2-3 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

  • [2]

    s.48 Landlord and Tenant Act 1987.

  • [3]

    ss.4, 5 and 7 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

  • [4]

    Rent Book (Forms of Notice) Regulations 1982 SI 1982/1474, amended by SI 1988/2198 and SI 1990/1067.

  • [5]

    s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

  • [6]

    Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 SI 1998/2451.

  • [7]

    Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations SI 1988/1324, as amended by Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations SI 1993/207.

  • [8]

    Part 11 Housing Act 1985 as amended by Housing Act 1996; Housing (Management of HMOs) Regulations 1990 and Housing Act 2004.

  • [9]

    ss.1, 2, 3 and 28 Tenant Fees Act 2019.

  • [10]

    Sch.1 Tenant Fees Act 2019.