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Tenancy rights that every student should know

Thursday October 12, 2023

Renting accommodation as a student, whether shared or single, comes with certain rights and responsibilities for both tenants and landlords. Understanding these rights is crucial for ensuring a safe and comfortable living environment, and it’s vital that students understand their tenancy before signing it.

Fire Safety

Your safety is a top priority when renting accommodation. To protect tenants against fire hazards, landlords are legally required to take specific measures, such as installing smoke alarms on each floor and having carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with working fireplaces and fire extinguishers in Houses in Multiple Occupation. Ensure you’re aware of who is responsible for maintaining these safety measures. Although tenants have a duty to keep alarms functional, landlords should ensure they are operational at the start of each new tenancy.

Landlord Rights to Enter the Property

Contrary to popular belief, landlords or their representatives cannot enter your rental property without prior notice. They must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before visiting for purposes such as viewings or repairs. Exceptions to this notice period include emergencies, such as fires, gas leaks, floods, structural damage, or criminal activities on the premises.

Pest Control Responsibilities

Dealing with pests like mice, rats and bedbugs in rental properties can be complex and the responsibility often depends on the circumstances. With mice and rats, landlords should be informed promptly so they can address the issue. Bedbugs depend on the cause. If they’re present upon moving into the property, the responsibility falls on the landlord. However, if this problem forms whilst living in the property, it may fall on the tenant.

Decorating

Before decorating or making any permanent property changes, seek written permission from your landlord. Some landlords permit painting with the condition that you restore the original colour upon leaving, but be cautious about the potential damage caused by decorating, such as picture hanging or removing old fixtures.

Landlord’s Responsibility for Repairs

Landlords bear responsibilities when it comes to certain repairs on a property. Major repairs related to the structure, such as plumbing, heating, electrical appliances, and gas safety are the duty of the property owner. Minor repairs such as damage to paint by tenants, mould caused by lack of ventilation or issues relating to hygiene may require tenant attention.

Notice to Leave

When it comes to leaving the property, tenants need to adhere to the conditions of their tenancies otherwise they risk a breach of contract. Break clauses allow for early termination, while periodic tenancies have different rules so be sure to read your agreement thoroughly and understand that you will be bound by the contract should you choose to sign it.

Evictions

Your landlord can legally evict you for a number of reasons. For example, if you’re regularly late paying your rent, are at least two months behind on payments, breach the terms of your tenancy, sublet without permission, are a nuisance to neighbours, use the property for illegal purposes or refuse to leave when the contract comes to an end. This can lead to hefty legal costs should your landlord choose to take you to court. Be cautious though, if there is no court order included in your eviction notice, the eviction is classed as illegal. Should someone harass you into leaving thereafter, you have a right to claim damages through the court.

Deposit Protection Schemes

Landlords must deposit their tenants’ housing deposits in a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days and inform them which one they have used. In the UK, there are only 3 schemes available to landlords, Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Tenants can claim compensation form their landlord should they fail to protect the scheme within the allotted time frame.

Towards the end of the tenancy, a landlord can make a claim to withhold returning parts of the deposit if they feel they need to make repairs to damages caused by the tenants, however, this cannot include reasonable wear and tear. For example, furniture has become worn, paintwork has faded etc. They also cannot use a deposit to fix issues that have already been raised i.e a leak in the sink that has been left unfixed.

Contact CWC

If you need professional advice on whether your tenancy is legitimate or feel you’ve been wronged by your landlord, get in touch with our experts.

CWC gives top tips every student should know regarding their tenancy.