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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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
Furniture provided in private rented accommodation, that has been let since 1 March 1993, must comply with fire safety requirements.
Houses in multiple occupation are covered by extra rules concerning fire safety and provision of facilities.
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.
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
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:
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
Data protection requirements for landlords
Some landlords and letting agencies which handle personal data are required to register with the Information Commissioner's Office and to pay a data protection fee.
Landlords and letting agencies might handle personal data by:
processing personal data for the purpose of producing tenancy agreements or contracts
performing credit checks via a credit reference agency on prospective tenants and obtaining references
holding personal details on residents
holding information on financial payments
processing maintenance requests
handling dispute resolution between residents
maintaining CCTV for crime prevention
The ICO maintains a database of people and organisations who are registered.
A person or business which processes personal data but is not registered with the ICO could be fined.
Last updated: 30 January 2023