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What should I expect from my rented property?

What is a tenancy?

A tenancy is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that allows the tenant to live in a property as long as they pay rent and follow the rules.

A tenancy agreement is the document agreed between a landlord and tenant which sets out the legal terms and conditions of the rent contract. A tenancy agreement should be prepared before anyone rents the property.

Tenancy agreements can be either written or verbal, but you should use a written tenancy agreement where possible. This will avoid any disputes at a later date as all the tenancy information will be in writing. Check that you understand any terms before agreeing to them.

Whether or not a tenancy agreement is in place, landlords and tenants still have certain rights and obligations under the housing legislation.

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Rights and obligations under a tenancy agreement

All types of tenancies include the following rights and obligations.

Your rights and obligations as a tenant

Tenants' rights include:

  • freedom to live in the property undisturbed
  • the right to live in a property in a good state of repair - your landlord should make repairs and maintain the property
  • the right to access information about your tenancy at any time
  • protection from unfair eviction

You also have the right to protection from unfair rent, to challenge excessively high charges, and to have your deposit returned when your tenancy ends.

If you have a regulated tenancy, you have additional rights. You may have a regulated tenancy if you moved in before 15th January 1989.

If you fail to pay rent or breach other terms of your tenancy agreement you can lose your legal rights as a tenant.

Your rights and obligations as a landlord

As a landlord you also have rights, you can:

  • repossess the property when the tenancy ends
  • take back the property if it gets damaged
  • access the property by giving 24 hours' notice
  • take legal action to evict your tenant in some instances - like non-payment of rent

You may have other rights and responsibilities specifically included in your tenancy agreement:

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Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Landlords and tenants may have other rights and responsibilities depending on which type of tenancy they have. Tenancies can run for a set period, normally of six months or longer (fixed-term tenancy), or on a month-by-month basis (periodic tenancy).

The most common form of tenancy is an AST agreement.

All new tenancies are automatically ASTs, but a tenancy cannot be an AST if:

  • it began - or was agreed - before 15th January 1989
  • the rent is more than £100,000 - this is then a bare contractual tenancy
  • it is rent free
  • the rent is less than £250 a year - or less than £1,000 in London
  • it is a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises
  • it is a holiday let
  • the landlord is a local authority

See also:

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What should I look for when I want to rent a property?

Renting a property is an important decision and you should understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. A useful booklet is available:

In addition to the obvious things like rent, location and general condition, you should consider the following:


Is the property large enough for the occupants and your belongings? It seems obvious but if you have too much stuff in your accommodation, it reduces air circulation and increases the likelihood of condensation problems, especially if the heating system is inefficient.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Since 1st October 2008, it has been a legal requirement for landlords to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPCs) prior to the start of each new tenancy in domestic rented property. This requirement does not apply to tenancies commenced before this date.

Landlords are required to give a copy of this certificate to their tenants. In practice this means that you should ask to see the EPC for any property you are considering renting. If the property has poor thermal efficiency, or there appears to be inefficient heating, this will mean that you would be paying higher fuel bills and possibly suffering condensation problems during the winter months.

Each EPC for the domestic rental sector will have a life expectancy of 10 years, although landlords will be encouraged to update them more often, if they have refurbished a property and upgraded its thermal efficiency. Higher ratings could give landlords a marketing advantage due to the benefit of lower fuel bills.

If you are a tenant and have started your tenancy after 1st October 2008 and the landlord or their agent has not given you an EPC, contact:

Further information on EPCs is available from the Government's GOV.UK website:

Landlords' Gas Safety Record

Landlords of rented accommodation have a legal duty to carry out an annual Gas Safety Check in rented accommodation and a copy of this record must be made available to any tenants. You should make sure that you see this record agreeing to a tenancy.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) enforce the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, but further information can be found on the following websites:

Electrical Safety

Landlords have a new legal duty in relation to ensuring that the electrical installation in any rented property is safe. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020 will apply to all new tenancies on 1st July 2020 and for existing tenancies on 1st April 2021.

The Electrical Safety Regulations will require landlords to:

  • Have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years
  • Provide a copy of the report (known as the Electrical Safety Condition Report or EICR) to their tenants, and to the local authority if requested
  • If the EICR requires investigative or remedial works, landlords will have to carry this out

Failure to comply with this new requirement is an offence, for which a landlord can be fined up to £30,000 by the Local Authority. 

Fire safety

Landlords must make sure that tenants have an escape route from their property in case of fire. Depending on the size of the property, they may also have provided fire alarms and extinguishers. You should ensure that you, and your household, know what the fire escape routes are and that any fire alarms are working. It is worthwhile having a fire escape plan. Advice can be found on the Fire Safety pages.

If the property is let out to several different tenants (blocks of flats or houses in multiple occupation) then fire safety legislation applies to common or shared parts. In these cases the responsible person (usually the landlord, freeholder or managing agent) may have been asked to carry out a fire risk assessment.

The assessment is designed to:

  • identify fire hazards
  • reduce the risk of hazards that may harm occupants
  • decide what physical fire precaution measures, like fire doors, and management procedures may be needed - if any risks are found, they may be asked to make changes, like clearing fire escapes.

If appropriate, you should establish who the responsible person is for your building and what the fire risk assessment contains.

If your accommodation is furnished, then they must follow the fire-resistant furniture regulations. Furniture manufacturers will usually label their fire-resistant products. If a property is let on a one-off, short-term basis - for example, while the owner works away from home - the regulations do not apply.

Further information can be found at:

See also:

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Making a complaint

We try to ensure that private sector housing whether it is owned or rented is fit and healthy for those living in them.

The Councils have powers to ensure that homes do not contain potential Health & Safety risks.

If you are concerned regarding your living conditions and are live in private rented accommodation, you can obtain advice or make a complaint by contacting the Public Health & Regulation Team.

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