We’re all aware that being a tenant in someone else’s property can be a source of hassle and annoyance from time to time. We’ve all had or heard horror stories of unscrupulous or invasive landlords and many of us have caused our own fair share of problems with rental properties. Having a clear idea of what is ok and what isn’t when you are looking at renting a property can help you avoid problems developing between you and your landlord. With that in mind we look at the most common issues that tenants face and how to overcome them!
The tenancy agreement
Even if you haven’t signed a formal document a tenancy agreement is a legal contract. Ideally you should sign a formal document before you rent a flat or house. Your tenancy agreement formally outlines your contract length, conditions of termination and your rights as tenants and your landlords rights. Before singing a tenancy agreement makes sure you read the tenancy agreement fully and understand all of the terms!
Landlord’s access to the property
One of the biggest grievances tenants have is with the landlords access to the property; after all you live there and you don’t want to be interrupted every day by a busy body landlord. Under tenancy law your landlord is allowed access to the building for repair and to inspect the building. In terms of repair the landlord is allowed reasonable access – for minor repairs this would entail giving you 24 hours’ notice prior to entry but for real emergencies the landlord is allowed to access beyond the property! If you are in the process of moving out then the landlord is entitled to show new prospective tenants around but is required to give you 24 hours’ notice.
Properties to rent are bound by a much stricter building code than many other properties and landlords are required to make a property habitable and have proper health and safety guidelines adhered to. This means that your landlord is responsible to maintain the property and it keep it in a liveable state. Whilst the interpretation of this can vary somewhat it entails having a property free from damp, in good repair and with adequate facilities. Your landlord is therefore meant to keep your property in liveable condition. If you can’t get your landlord to make repairs to the property or he refuses to then you are advised to make a complaint; such as contacting the citizens advice bureau. However, often problems arise when one party feels the other is responsible for the damages. At its simplest sense a tenant is responsible for any damage that they directly cause within the property. A landlord is responsible for any building work and repairs that are not your responsibility. However, there is a clause that stipulates that if the tenants lifestyle causes damage the landlord can charge – this has been abused in the past and if you think you are being unfairly treated you should contact the citizens advice bureau.
Ending a tenancy
Ending a tenancy is often the most difficult part of the whole arrangement and often fraught. To make things easier make sure you leave the flat in as good condition as you arrived. Your tenancy agreement stipulates who can cancel the contract and at what time but the landlord and you will both be required to serve you with notice of at least 1 month!