From 29 August 2020, you're entitled to six months' notice on most tenancies. If rent arrears are more than six months' worth of rent, this notice period could be reduced.
Letting agents in England, Scotland and Wales aren’t allowed to charge you for:
If a landlord or agent tries to charge you these fees, remind them of the rules and tell them you’re only willing to pay for rent and any deposits required.
If they’re found to be charging for the above, they face a £5,000 fine. If they continue to charge fees, they could be fined much more.
Depending on what your tenancy agreement says, the only fees your landlord or letting agent can charge are:
In Northern Ireland fees can be illegal if they are charged by a letting agent and cover services that benefit the landlord. But if you rent directly from a landlord they're allowed to charge fees.
Your landlord is responsible for keeping your home safe and warm. You should have a working water supply and safe access to gas and electricity.
Tenants are usually responsible for the general upkeep of their homes, such as changing light bulbs, unblocking sinks, gardening and cleaning.
Ask your landlord to repair issues that threaten your health and safety as soon as possible.
This could include a boiler breakdown, leaky pipes, faulty or exposed electrical wiring, damp problems, pest infestations, and broken doors and windows.
If you rent a room in a house share with at least two other people and you share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen, you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
You can check if your home is registered as a HMO by contacting your local council.
Your landlord usually has extra legal responsibilities:
Your landlord should be charging you ‘market rent' which is the going rate in your area. It can be affected by the availability and cost of similar homes for rent nearby.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy, then your landlord can't increase the rent until the fixed-term ends.
In Scotland, landlords can only increase rent once a year. They must also give tenants three months’ written notice of any rent rises.
The only exception is if there's a clause if your tenancy agreement saying your rent can be increased.
Once the fixed-term has ended and the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy, it’s difficult for private tenants to challenge rent increases.
The landlord may choose to evict you if you refuse to pay more rent.
How quickly and easily you can leave will depend on whether you're still within a fixed term of a tenancy or not.
It's always best to give notice in writing and ensure that the notice ends on the first or last day of the period of a tenancy.
For example, if your tenancy is monthly and started on the fifth day of the month, the notice you give your landlord should end on the fourth or fifth.
If you disagree with charges,write to your landlord asking for your deposit back.
Landlords can make deductions from your deposit for:
They must give you a list of deductions, and the costs.
Your landlord should have paid your deposit into a deposit protection scheme.
These schemes offer a free service to help resolve disputes between tenants and landlords over deposits.
You could also take it to the small claims court, but using the dispute resolution service provided by the protection scheme is usually preferable.
England and Wales
Your landlord must return your deposit, minus any damage costs.
Your deposit must be protected by law, so you could take your landlord to court if you can prove they didn’t pay your deposit into a scheme.
Discuss this with your landlord. It’s likely they would rather pay your money back than face court action.
If you pay a deposit to secure a property, it’s normally refunded when you move in. Sometimes it might be deducted from your first month’s rent.
Ask your letting agent to confirm in writing how your holding deposit will be used including:
If the letting agent can’t explain why it’s not returning your holding deposit, ask for it to be refunded.
If it refuses, you can make a complaint to a trade association, if the agent is a member of one of the following main trade bodies:
You could also consider taking the letting agent to court.
Section 21 and Section 8 of the the Housing Act 1988 are what landlords typically use to evict tenants living in England and Wales.
While landlords can serve both notices at the same time, a Section 21 and Section 8 notice are different processes.
The government has recently announced plans to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, although they haven’t yet said what this will look like or when it will come into effect.
If you’re having trouble with a landlord, find out how to make a complaint about them
There are two different types of eviction notice, and how you go about challenging them is different:
Section 8 notice seeking possession - given when a landlord has a reason to evict you. For example, if you’ve not paid the rent or you’ve damaged the property.
Section 21 notice seeking possession - given when the landlord would like the property back at the end of your tenancy contract. They don’t need to give a reason.
First, check your landlord has followed the right procedures. If they haven’t given you enough notice or move the eviction date, for example, you can make a case to stay put.
The landlord must:
If your landlord is trying to evict you under Section 8 of the Housing Act, you can appeal the decision if you think the reason is wrong.
You’ll automatically be sent details from the courts on how you can appeal.
Landlords have the right to ask you to leave at the end of your tenancy contract under Section 21, but they must be careful to follow the procedure correctly.
The landlord must:
If your landlord hasn’t complied, you have strong grounds to challenge their notice and you can ‘defend possession.’ You’ll be sent details by the court on how you can do this.
But if they’ve followed the process correctly, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to dispute it.
If you don’t want to leave the property and you think the Section 21 notice is invalid, you can argue your case in court.
We recommend getting legal advice before taking your landlord to court.
Lodgers have fewer protections than tenant. If you're a lodger you'll usually you'll have your 'own' room, but you live in your landlords home with their permission and share living space with them, like the bathroom or kitchen.