The rental sector has more than doubled since the beginning of the century, rising from 2.3 million to a massive 5.4 million privately rented households in the UK. And whilst there has been a slight dip in uptake, rental properties remain highly in demand. For private landlords, in particular, this presents a new challenge – it’s crucial you understand your tenant’s rights as a renter to avoid any unnecessary stress.
When renting privately, all responsibility falls onto you as the landlord and it can almost feel as though you’ve landed in this position accidentally. At Seymours, we’ve found that many of our clients come to us having faced difficulties within the rental sector. Instead of having to take on this additional stress and worry themselves, our experienced letting team can handle any issues utilising their expertise in the sector.
In today’s blog, we’ll be highlighting the tenant’s rights as a renter so you understand the responsibilities associated with privately renting your property. Whilst it may seem like a simple choice that sees you reaping the full benefits of this additional income, it certainly isn’t without its challenges. You may find yourself having to invest a significant amount of time and energy in an attempt to overcome these hurdles, far outweighing any savings on letting agent expenses.
Why become a landlord?
Landlords tend to fall into two categories, those that make it their career and those that fall into it accidentally. But, with rental property in high demand and prices steadily increasing over the past few years, it’s become an area many are keen to venture into. Not only does a rental property provide you with a passive income, but it’s also a clever way to protect your assets with saving rates dropping to their lowest in history.
Demand will likely continue to outstrip supply, especially with short-term holiday lets such as Airbnb significantly reducing the number of options available to those seeking a long-term rental property. And, therefore, it’s a relatively safe market to enter into – typically, you’ll be able to find a tenant quickly.
Remember, being a landlord is a long-term commitment. Of course, once you settle into managing your property you may find private renting a breeze but there are still many obstacles to consider before taking the plunge – many of these considerations that wouldn’t be an issue should you choose to work with an established local letting agent!
So, what are your tenant’s rights as a renter?
A tenant renting a private property will be entitled to the following rights, following the co-signing of a tenancy agreement with yourself as the landlord:
- The right to live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
- The right to have their deposit returned at the end of the tenancy, provided they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement
- And, as part of this, to challenge any charges the tenant feels are ‘excessively high’
- The right to know the identity of the landlord
- The right to live in the property undisturbed
- The right to see the property’s energy performance certificate, which should be rated a minimum of an E
- The right to be protected from unfair rent and unfair eviction
- The right to have a written agreement if they have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years
- Under the Tenant Frees Act, the right to not have to pay certain fees when setting up a new tenancy
The majority of this will be laid out within the tenancy agreement, it’s vitally important you fully understand this document and the terms you wish to set before sending it over to your prospective tenant. As a private landlord, you’ll need to handle all paperwork independently which can be daunting for many. So, it can be beneficial to consider utilising a letting agent on either a tenant-only basis or full management to assist you, particularly with the initial paperwork to iron out the finer details. Otherwise, you may find this crucial document coming back to bite you at a later date!
What about for a house share?
If you are renting your property out as a house share, the tenant’s rights as a renter change once again. There are a few additional legal requirements to ensure the property is fit to serve multiple residents, these include ensuring there are proper fire safety measures in place, annual gas safety checks, enough rubbish bins and enough cooking/bathroom facilities for the number of people living there.
So, you’ll want to consider if a house share is right for you as a landlord. You’ll have additional responsibilities which could eat into your own personal time and may therefore hugely outweigh the benefits of privately renting your property. Furthermore, a house share requires you to find multiple tenants and this again, opens the door to further challenges should the residents’ clash when living together.
What are your rights and responsibilities as a landlord?
To keep your tenants happy and secure in your property, you’ll have a few responsibilities that fall in accordance with the tenant’s rights. Of course, as a landlord, you also have certain rights that your tenant is required to meet – the main of which being, they have the responsibility to pay you the correct rental price each month, on the agreed date. And, if you wish to terminate the agreement, you have the right to request the tenant to leave the property; however, you must ensure this is done so through the correct channels.
Once you’ve handed over the keys to your property, you effectively give over your right to enter as and when you please. But, there are still several responsibilities you must take on:
As the landlord, it will be your responsibility to sort insurance to protect the property against any accidental damage, such as fire and flooding. However, be sure to make it clear that your tenant will need to arrange their own contents insurance if they wish to protect their possessions.
If you decide to furnish the property (i.e. with appliances or furniture), you’ll need to keep them in good condition – this might mean replacing them or sending out a tradesperson to fix them. The majority of repairs will be in your care which can protect your property against any ambitious DIY quick fixes from your tenants. However, it does require you to be rather involved in the running of your rental, you may find your phone buzzing with messages more often than you want!
Thus, many landlords decide to utilise a local lettings agent as a solution to this potential issue. If you opt for full management, you can sit back and relax as any maintenance issue will be handled with professional ease.
Deposits and rent
Another responsibility you may have overlooked is the holding of your tenant’s deposit. Again, if you use a letting agent this will typically be handled for you. But, otherwise, you will need to choose an agency to safely do this for you as part of the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.
Furthermore, as the landlord, it is your responsibility to inform the tenant of when and how they need to pay their rent. If you wish to increase the charge during the let, the tenant must agree to it. Or, one of the following criteria is met:
- The tenant signs a new contract
- They have a rent review clause in their contract
- The landlord sends a section 13 notice of a rent increase (NOTE: a section 13 notice can only be issued once a year)
The Homes Act
The tenant’s rights as a renter include access to a safe and comfortable property. And, it’s not just the mark of a good landlord to comply with this right, it’s also a legal requirement under The Homes Act. The Homes Act gives tenants the power to take legal action against any landlord that doesn’t take this responsibility seriously. A court will decide whether a property is fit for human habitation and can seek to exert advice if they think something’s not up to scratch.
Why work with Seymours letting agents?
Privately renting out your property can be riddled with difficulty; it’s vital you understand your tenant’s rights as a renter to eliminate some of the potential obstacles as you fully comprehend your responsibilities as a landlord. Of course, you can streamline the process altogether by utilising a letting agent. The services provided by a professional experienced letting agent far outweigh the small monthly investment, ultimately allowing you as the landlord to relax – almost forgetting about your rental and instead, simply reaping the benefits of this passive income.
In addition, all of our Seymours letting agents are local to the area themselves, ensuring prospective tenants have access to the local information they want when viewing your property. As a result, you’ll be able to secure a high calibre of tenants, which can again, eliminate some of the stress associated with renting a property.
Let your property with the experts today: choose Seymours Letting Agents for property peace of mind.
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