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Your rights when you rent from a private landlord

This advice applies to Wales

When you have a problem with your landlord or your home, your rights and your landlord’s responsibilities depend on the type of rental agreement you have.

If you know what type of rental agreement you have, you can find out what rights you have when dealing with things like:

  • getting repairs done

  • paying your rent

  • dealing with rent increases

  • being asked to leave your home

  • ending your rental agreement

  • getting your deposit back

You can check what type of private rental agreement you have if you’re not sure.

Your rights are different if you rent from the council or a housing association - check your rights when you rent from a council or a housing association.

Getting repairs done

If your landlord is responsible for repairs, they should do them in a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. 

What counts as reasonable depends on the problem - for example, a broken boiler should be fixed sooner than a leaky tap.

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant

Your landlord is responsible for most major repairs to your home.

Check how to get repairs done if you’re an assured shorthold tenant.

If you’re an assured tenant or a protected tenant

Your landlord is responsible for most major repairs to your home.

This includes:

  • the structure of the property - for example, the walls, roof, windows and doors

  • sinks, baths and toilets

  • pipes and wiring

  • heating and hot water - for example, the boiler

  • the safety of gas and electrical appliances that your landlord has provided

  • repairing common parts of the building like entrance halls, stairs and lifts - this doesn’t apply if your tenancy started before 15 January 1989

If your tenancy started before 24 October 1961, the rules are different - contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

You’ll be responsible for minor repairs - for example, changing fuses and light bulbs. You’ll also have to fix anything damaged by you, someone who visits you or another person you live with - for example, your child. 

Your landlord is responsible for most major repairs where the damage is caused by anyone else - for example, if someone breaks into your home.

If your home is damp, your landlord might not be responsible. It depends on what type of damp it is and what caused it. Read more about dealing with damp.

If you’re not sure your landlord is responsible for repairing something, you can check your tenancy agreement - it might give more details about what rights you have when dealing with repairs.

If you’re an assured tenant and your tenancy started or was renewed after 20 March 2019, your landlord might also have to make sure your home is safe to live in. This is known in law as being ‘fit for human habitation’. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure your home is safe to live in.

If you’re an excluded occupier or an occupier with basic protection

Your landlord has to take steps to make sure your home is safe and that you won’t be injured because of the condition of your home. 

Check your contract - it might say what repairs you and your landlord are responsible for.

It’s easier for a landlord to evict an excluded occupier or an occupier with basic protection. You should think about how you ask your landlord to make repairs - if the landlord responds badly to your request, they might decide to evict you.

It’s a good idea to ask your landlord to make repairs in an informal and cooperative way. For example, you could talk to your landlord and explain what the problem is and how it’s affecting you.

You can’t pay your rent

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, you can check our advice on getting help with renting costs

Your rental agreement will usually say how much rent you have to pay and when you have to pay it. If you don’t have a written agreement, the amount of rent you have to pay will be what you agreed with your landlord.

Your landlord might be able to evict you if you don’t pay your rent on time.

If you think you’re going to miss a rent payment, you should:

  • check if you can get benefits 

  • talk to your landlord - you could ask for extra time to pay, but don’t say you’ll pay earlier than you think you’ll be able to

If you fall behind with your rent payments, you’ll be in ‘rent arrears’. Get help dealing with rent arrears.

Your landlord wants to increase your rent

Your landlord can't increase your rent whenever they like. They need to follow certain rules if they want you to pay more - these depend on the type of rental agreement you have. 

If your landlord doesn’t follow the rules, you can challenge them.

You can’t challenge a rent increase if you’ve already started to pay the new amount - for example, if you started paying the increased rent then changed your mind.

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant

Your landlord needs to follow certain rules if they want you to pay more - this depends on whether you have a fixed term tenancy or a rolling tenancy.

Check our advice on dealing with a rent increase.

If you’re an assured tenant

Your landlord can increase your rent during the fixed term of your tenancy if your tenancy agreement says they can. The agreement has to say when and how the rent will be increased - this is known as having a 'rent review clause'.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if there's nothing in your tenancy agreement about rent increases during your fixed term and your landlord tries to increase your rent.

If you don’t have a fixed term or it has ended, then your landlord might be able to increase your rent if they give you notice. They’ll have to use a form called a section 13 notice - form 4 on GOV.UK.

Your landlord has to follow certain rules to use a section 13 notice. For example, how much notice they have to give you before they increase the rent and when they can give you notice. They have to give you at least 1 month’s notice, but this could be longer.

You might be able to challenge the rent increase if your landlord hasn’t followed the rules or if you think the rent is too high.

The rules about rent increases for assured tenants are complicated. If your landlord says they want to increase your rent, you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you’re a protected tenant

Your landlord can’t increase your rent unless either:

  • you agree to a rent increase in writing

  • your rent has been registered as a ‘fair rent’ by the Valuation Office Agency and your landlord has later applied for it to be increased

The Valuation Office Agency is a government organisation that values properties. If you or your landlord apply to the Valuation Office Agency, they’ll decide whether your rent needs to be increased or decreased to make it a fair rent. They’ll decide what a fair rent is based on things like where the property is and when it was built.

When your rent has been registered as a fair rent, your landlord can only apply to increase it again after 2 years.

If you’re a protected tenant and your landlord tries to increase your rent, you should get advice - you might be able to challenge it. Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you’re an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier

Your landlord can increase your rent during the fixed term of your rental agreement if your contract says they can. The agreement has to say when and how the rent will be increased - this is known as having a 'rent review clause'.

If your fixed term agreement has ended or you never had one, your landlord doesn’t have to follow any particular rules to increase your rent.

If you can’t reach an agreement with your landlord about how much you should pay, it’s easy for them to evict you.

You’re asked to leave your home 

The amount of notice you should get and the process your landlord has to follow depends on the type of rental agreement you have. If your landlord doesn’t follow the rules, you can challenge them.

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant

Your tenancy will be a ‘fixed term’ tenancy if it has a definite start and end date. You don’t automatically have to leave your home at the end of your fixed term tenancy. 

You can decide with your landlord if you want to renew the tenancy for another fixed period or stay on a rolling basis. A rolling basis is when the tenancy runs from month to month or week to week.

If your landlord wants to evict you at the end of your fixed term or you never had a fixed term, they need to give you written notice. You might get either a:

  • section 8 notice - your landlord has to give you a reason for giving you a section 8 notice - for example, if you have rent arrears

  • section 21 notice - your landlord doesn’t need to give you a reason for giving you a section 21 notice - for example, they might just want to move back into the property

If your landlord gives you a notice, they can’t force you to leave on the day your fixed term tenancy ends or on the day the notice ends. Your landlord will have to go to court to get a court order.

If you’re an assured tenant or a protected tenant

Your landlord will have to give you notice if they want you to leave.

They have to give the reasons why they want to evict you - for example, if you have rent arrears or you’ve damaged the property. Your landlord will have to go to court and get a court order. They can’t force you to leave if they don’t have a court order. 

The court will decide whether to give your landlord a ‘possession order’ - this means they can evict you. 

You’ll have the chance to go to court to challenge the eviction - you should get advice before you do.  

Your nearest Citizens Advice can help if your landlord has given you a notice to leave or you have to go to court.

If you’re an occupier with basic protection

Your rental agreement will be a ‘fixed term’ contract if it has a definite start and end date. 

Your landlord doesn’t have to give you notice to leave at the end of your fixed term, but they’ll have to apply to court to ask a judge for a ‘possession order’. This means they can ask the bailiffs to evict you.They can only do this when your fixed term has ended.

If you’ve never had a fixed term and you have a rolling contract, your landlord will have to give you notice if they want you to leave. They don’t have to give you any reasons why they want to evict you. 

They have to give you at least 28 days notice, but this could be longer depending on your agreement. If you don’t leave by the time your notice ends, your landlord has to go to court to get a court order to make you leave. 

The court will normally give your landlord a possession order - unless they didn’t follow the correct process when they gave you notice to leave.

Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re an occupier with basic protection and your landlord wants you to evict you.

If you’re an excluded occupier

Your rental agreement will be a ‘fixed term’ contract if it has a definite start and end date. 

Your landlord doesn’t have to give you notice to leave at the end of your fixed term - they can just tell you to leave when it ends. They can either do this in writing or verbally. 

If you never had a fixed term and you have a rolling contract, your landlord will have to give you notice if they want you to leave. The amount of notice they need to give you depends on what’s written in your agreement and the details of your situation. 

Your landlord doesn’t need to get a court order, but they can’t use unreasonable force or violence to evict you. This would be a criminal offence - call the police if this happens. 

Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re an excluded occupier and your landlord wants to evict you.

Ending your rental agreement

You’II usually need to let your landlord know in advance if you want to end your rental agreement - this is called giving notice.

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant

You’ll need to give notice to your landlord if you want to end your tenancy.

Check our advice on ending your tenancy.

If you’re a different type of tenant or occupier

You have to give notice in the correct way - if you don’t, you might have to pay rent even after you’ve moved out. You might also have to pay other bills - for example, council tax. 

When and how much notice you give will depend on whether you have a fixed term agreement and if your agreement says anything about giving notice.

You should always give notice in writing and keep a copy of it. 

If you can't give the right amount of notice, you might be able to agree with your landlord to end your rental agreement early. This is called 'surrendering your agreement'. You should always try to agree this in writing in case there are problems later on. 

Think carefully before ending your agreement. If you leave before finding somewhere else to live, it might affect how much help you get from the council to find somewhere else to live. 

If you’re thinking of ending your agreement, get help from your nearest Citizens Advice. They can help you check how much notice you need to give and talk you through your options.

If you have a fixed term agreement

You can only end your agreement early if your landlord agrees or your written contract says you can - this is called a ‘break clause’. 

If you have a joint agreement the rules are more complex - you usually can’t use a break clause unless the other person agrees to do this. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you don’t understand your break clause or if you have a joint agreement.

If you don’t have a fixed term agreement or it’s ended

If you’re an assured tenant or protected tenant you need to give notice in writing. You'll need to give at least 28 days notice but this might be longer - look at what it says in your tenancy agreement. 

If you have a joint agreement, only one tenant needs to give notice. This will end the tenancy for both people. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you:

  • need help understanding what notice you need to give

  • have a different type of rental agreement

If you’ve split up from your partner or you’re joint tenants

Check our advice on what happens to your home when you separate.

Getting your deposit back 

You'll need to contact your landlord at the end of your rental agreement to ask them for your deposit.

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant

Your landlord might have a responsibility to protect your deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme. You can check our advice on: 

If you’re a different type of tenant or occupier

You'll need to contact your landlord when you leave your home to ask them for your deposit. 

If your home is managed by a letting agency, you'll need to contact them instead.

It's a good idea to write or email when you ask for your deposit - this means you'll have a record of when you asked for it.

You'll have a better chance of getting all or most of your deposit back if you leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. It's a good idea to get evidence of the condition of the property when you leave - for example, photos or a signed inventory. 

Your landlord might take money off your deposit if you owe rent or if you’ve damaged the property - for example if you’ve stained the carpet. Your landlord can’t take money off your deposit for everyday use - for example if you’ve scuffed the skirting boards. This is known as ‘reasonable wear and tear’.

If your landlord says they’re going to take money off your deposit, they should tell you why - if they don't, ask them. You can also ask them to give you details about how they’ve worked out the amount, if it’s not clear. 

It's best to get your landlord's reasons in writing if you can - that way you can refer back to them if you need to take action to get your deposit back.

If you still can't agree with your landlord, you could take them to court. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help getting your deposit back.

If you have any other problems

If you’re an assured shorthold tenant, check our advice on renting privately when you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

If you have any other type of tenancy, you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against

It might be against the law if your landlord treats you unfairly or differently because of who you are, such as being disabled or being a woman. If it is, you can complain or take them to court.

Check if your housing problem is discrimination.

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