Your rights as a tenant
As a tenant, you have the right to:
- live in a property that's safe and in a good state of repair
- have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends
- know who your landlord is
- live in the property undisturbed (queit and peaceful environment)
- be protected from illegal eviction and harassment
Your rights as a private tenant vary depending on the type of tenancy agreement you have and when it was signed.
The most common form of tenancy in the private rented sector are assured shorthold tenancies although there are some assured tenants and a very small number are protected tenants. Some people living in private rented accommodation, if they share accommodation with the landlord, are excluded occupiers and have fewer rights.
You tenancy agreement should state what type of agreement it is, but you can work it out using the information below:
- If you share the property you rent with your landlord, you are 'an excluded occupier'
- If you signed your tenancy agreement before the 15th January 1989, you are 'a protected tenant'
- If you signed your tenancy after the 15th January but before the 28th February 1997, your are either 'an assured' or 'an assured shorthold tenant'
- If your tenancy began after 28th February 1997 you are 'an assured shorthold tenant'.
The rights of excluded occupiers
If the landlord shares the accommodation with you (and they live there as their only or main home both at the start and throughout your tenancy) and you share rooms such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room, it is likely that you would have a licence and you will be considered to be 'an excluded occupier'. If you are 'an excluded occupier' you will have very few tenancy rights. It is important to remember how easy it is for your landlord to evict you.
As 'an excluded occupier' your only right is to stay until your landlord asks you to go, or for as long as the written agreement says. Your landlord can evict you by giving you reasonable notice (which can be verbal) and doesn't need a court order. You will have to leave once the notice expires.
The rights of protected tenants
Protected tenants have the strongest rights of any private tenants. If you think you are a protected tenant and your landlord asks you to move or to sign a new agreement, you should consult an experienced housing adviser.
As a protected tenant you have the following rights:
- security of tenure. Your landlord can only repossess the accommodation in certain specified circumstances
- the right to have rent increased only in certain circumstances
- the right to have the accommodation kept in a reasonable state or repair
- the right of your spouse, civil partner, other partner or another family member to take over the tenancy on your death
- the right not to be treated unfairly because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
The rights of assured tenants
As an assured tenant you have the right to stay in your accommodation unless your landlord can convince the court there are good reasons for eviction, for example rent arrears or damage to the property, or that another of the terms of the agreement has been broken.
As an assured tenant you can enforce your rights, for instance, to get repairs done without worrying about getting evicted.
As well as the right to stay in your home as long as you keep to the terms of the tenancy you will also have other rights by law including:
- the right to have the accommodation kept in a reasonable state of repair
- the right of a your spouse, civil partner, or other partner to take over the tenancy on your death ('the right of succession')
- the right not to be treated unfairly because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation
The rights of assured shorthold tenants
An assured shorthold tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time. Your tenancy might be for a set period such as six months or it might roll on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis.
Your landlord has to give you written notice if they want you to leave. If you don't leave by the end of the notice period, your landlord can apply for a court order. If the landlord obtains a court order it is likely that you will be required to pay his/her court costs.
You cannot be evicted before your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to your landlord regaining possession of the property. The court has no choice but to make an order to evict assured shorthold tenants, if the correct procedure has been followed, if the landlord has served a Section 21 Notice. You may be able to ask the court to delay the order but this can only be done for up to six weeks, and only if you face exceptional hardship.
If the landlord has served a Section 8 Notice the Court may have some discretion in deciding whether to grant possession, as some grounds are mandatory and some discretionary.
You will be given the chance to provide information to the court to help the judge decide whether or not you should be evicted. You can send information to the court and/or go to a hearing.
If the Court grants a possession order to your landlord and you don't leave by the time a court order takes effect, your landlord will need to apply the Court for an eviction warrant and request that bailiffs physically remove you from the property.
You can get more detailed information on your rights as an assured shorthold tenant via the links below: