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Tenant rights


If you’re currently renting the property where you live, your landlord has to provide you a certain standard of living by law. If you believe your house or flat needs repair or if you think your landlord isn’t living up to their responsibilities, we can advise you on what to do next.

Here’s what you should know:

  • A tenancy agreement may exist even if it’s not in writing – this means your rights may not be affected even if the landlord’s obligations aren’t written down.
  • Both private and Local Authority tenants have the same rights.
  • Your tenancy deposit should be protected by a deposit scheme.
  • Your landlord is responsible for making sure the conditions in the property aren't making you ill.

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement can be made up of any or all of the following:

  • A written and signed agreement. 
  • What was agreed orally - although this can be difficult to prove unless there were witnesses. 
  • Any rights granted by law or established by a previous judicial decision. 
  • What was written in the original rent book. 
  • Any arrangements/agreements made since the tenancy started. 
  • If the tenancy has been passed on in the family, what was agreed to by the first tenant remains.

What’s the difference between a tenancy and a license?

The difference between a tenancy and a license is important as tenants usually have more rights than licensees. You should know which agreement you have in order to know your rights.

What does a tenancy provide?

  • A tenancy is a grant of legal interest in land, meaning you have more security during your stay at the property and the right to have repairs done.
  • Tenants' rights are usually protected by law. 
  • A tenancy (or lease – a term used for renting flats/houses for a longer period of time) gives the tenant exclusive possession of the accommodation for an agreed period of time.

What does a license provide?

  • Licensees (unless excluded) are usually only protected from being evicted illegally.
  • A license is just a personal permission to occupy the property.

Is my deposit protected?

If your landlord (or a letting agency acting on a landlord’s behalf) takes a security deposit for your property, they must pay it into a tenancy deposit protection scheme.

A deposit is usually made when you sign a tenancy agreement and the landlord must pay it into a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it.

Who is responsible for repairs in my property?

Your landlord has an ongoing obligation to carry out and maintain a basic standard of repair on your property (established by Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985).

This means maintaining the structure and exterior of your property if it has been damaged, including:

  • External walls. 
  • Drains, gutters and external pipes. 
  • All outside parts of the property. 
  • Partition walls between the property and another house or flat.
  • Partition walls within a flat.
  • Internal plaster on walls and ceilings.
  • The roof and skylight windows. 
  • External doors and windows. 
  • Paths and steps that are part of the immediate access to the property.

All your property’s installations should also be maintained, including:

  • Water supply.
  • Gas supply.
  • Electricity.
  • Sanitation.
  • Water heating.

What if the conditions in the property are making me ill?

Rented accommodation can vary hugely in quality. Some property might have conditions which could make you ill, such as damp and condensation.

Although these things wouldn't be covered by disrepair regulations, they may be 'deemed to be prejudicial to health'.

Similarly, it could be that your neighbours' behaviour is a nuisance and is affecting the quality of your life: perhaps they are being noisy or allowing water to leak into your flat.

You don't have to live like this. In all of these cases the law has a system in place to try to help when this happens and a procedure you can follow.

What you can do:

If you experience any of these issues you can contact the Environmental Health Officers at your local council to get them to investigate.

If you live in a Local Authority or housing association property you may contact your housing officer to raise these issues with. Where the Local Authority identifies a statutory nuisance, they must serve an 'abatement notice' on the person responsible for the nuisance and set a time limit for completion, which means a time by which they must stop/rectify the situation.

You can find your Local Authority at Find your local council.

We work with a panel of solicitors, so if you think your landlord is treating you differently because of your HIV status, contact one of our online advisors or call our free helpline THT Direct and we’ll put you in touch with someone who can help.



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 19/9/2014 by C. Berry

Date due for the next review: 19/9/2017

Content Author: J. Font

Current Owner: D. Anyanwu

More information:

  1. Citizen's Advice Advisernet - Tenancies and licences
  2. Citizen's Advice Advisernet - Tenancy deposits
  3. Astin, Diane. Housing Law: an adviser's handbook, LAG 2008, Ch 10 Disrepair, p399-400