Many tenants have a written tenancy agreement, but a legal contract exists between a landlord and a tenant whether or not anything is written down. A verbal agreement may simply be based on the conversation the landlord and tenant had when they originally agreed on the terms of the letting. A verbal contract may, however, be difficult to enforce, especially if there were no witnesses to the agreement.
If you are having problems either enforcing the terms of the agreement, for example, repairs, or being required by the landlord to agree to something different from the original tenancy agreement, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
If you do not know the identity of the landlord, you can write to the person who last collected your rent, asking for your landlord’s full name and address. You should send this letter by recorded delivery and keep a copy. If the person to whom you have written does not reply within 21 days, this is a criminal offence. You can inform the Tenancy Relations Officer of the local authority, who can prosecute the person who has failed to provide the information.
Before contacting the Tenancy Relations Officer, you should consider whether this might provoke your landlord into retaliating with threats or attempted eviction. You should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
If you need to find out your landlord’s identity because of an emergency, such as a burst pipe, it may be quicker to inform the local authority of the emergency. The local authority has special powers to enter and carry out any necessary work, and can take steps to find out who your landlord is in order to recover its costs.
A letting agency can help you find accommodation owned by a private landlord. Some will help you simply to find accommodation, but many letting agencies manage properties on behalf of a landlord, which means that you may have no direct contact with your landlord.
For information on renting from a letting agency, see Renting from a letting agency [ 130 KB]
Only a tenant with a weekly tenancy, or who pays the rent weekly, has a right to a rent book.
It is important to remember that it is your duty to pay the rent and not your landlord’s duty to collect it.
If you have difficulty paying the rent and/or council tax because you have a low income you may be eligible for housing benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction.
For information on housing benefit, see Help with your rent – Housing Benefit.
For information on Council Tax Reduction, see Council Tax Reduction – what you need to know.
Your landlord has a right to reasonable access to carry out repairs. What ‘reasonable access’ means depends on why your landlord needs to get access. For example, in an emergency, your landlord is entitled to immediate access to carry out any necessary work.
Your landlord also has a right to enter the property to inspect the state of repair or to empty a fuel slot meter, but they should always ask for your permission and should give you at least 24 hours notice.
If you are staying in lodgings where it is agreed that your landlord provides a room-cleaning service or where you share a room with other lodgers, your landlord can enter without permission.
Your landlord does not have a right to enter in any other circumstances unless they have a court order.
If you are having problems with your landlord who is entering the accommodation without the tenant’s permission, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
As a tenant, you have the right to have your home kept in a reasonable state of repair. However, you also have to look after it.
For information on what repairs you and your landlord are responsible for and how to get repairs carried out, see Repairs in rented housing.
It is an offence for your landlord to do anything which they know is likely to make you leave the home or prevent you from exercising your legal rights. This would include, for example, repeatedly disturbing you late at night or obstructing access to the home, creating noise, disconnecting supplies of water, gas or electricity where your landlord knows that this is likely to drive you out or discourage you from insisting on your legal rights.
If you are subjected to harassment, the matter should be reported to the Tenancy Relations Officer of the local authority or to the police.
When renting accommodation, it’s against the law for a landlord to harass you because of your disability, gender reassignment, race or sex. Harassment can include both actions and language that you find offensive.
Owning a home is a keystone of wealth… both financial affluence and emotional security.Suze Orman