Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I have given notice to quit in one months time. Can I tell the landlord to keep my deposit in lieu of my last months rent?
You have a contractual obligation to pay your rent and the deposit cannot be used in lieu of the last months rent unless the landlord agrees. The deposit is also used for damage to the property and furnishings, so the landlord is entitled to wait until the end of the tenancy, when the property and inventory can be checked.

My landlord is entering the property without any arrangement with me. Does he have the right to do this?
Generally speaking, no. Whatever you are renting as a tenancy, whether it is a house, flat or a room, as a tenant you have "exclusive possession" of the property or that part of the property. This means that you alone have the exclusive right to occupy, use and enter the property or part of the property concerned. In addition, every tenancy has an implied "covenant of quiet enjoyment" where the landlord has to respect the tenant's right to enjoy this exclusive right. There is a provision in law for landlords to arrange access with the tenant where essential repairs or an inspection for the repairs are necessary. To arrange access, a landlord must give at least 24 hours written notice to make arrangements. The tenant is then obliged to provide access.

My tenant has made a request for details of my address. Do I have to provide this?
Yes. Under section 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, a tenant is entitled to know the name and address of the landlord. The address must be in England or Wales. Where a tenant makes a written request for this information, the landlord must respond within 21 days of receiving the request, otherwise the landlord will commit a summary offence. Local Authorities can prosecute. Also under section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, until the landlord provides these details, the rent will not be lawfully due. Once the details have been provided however, any rent withheld will then become due.

The tenant has sublet a room in the property. Is this legally acceptable?
If the tenancy was created after 15 January 1989, the tenant can only sublet part of the property with express permission from the landlord, however permission cannot be withheld unreasonably. If the subletting takes place without such permission it is unlawful. The tenant will then be in breach of contract and be putting the tenancy at risk and liable to possession proceedings.

I am negotiating a tenancy with a letting agency, who require me to have someone act as a guarantor for the rent. Can they do this?
There is no reason in law to exclude this, so the answer is yes.

The letting agency is requesting a fee for finding accommodation. Can they do this?
Yes. A letting agency can charge a fee where accommodation is found for you that you find acceptable. On the other hand an agency cannot charge you a fee for recording your details, or "putting you on their books".

I have recently been burgled and damage was done. My landlord tells me I must pay for the damage. Is this right?
Although you are responsible for the cost of damage that you do, if the damage is done by someone else, who is not part of your household or a visitor, you cannot be held liable for the damage. Front doors and even glass in a window are part of the structure of the property, so it will be the landlord's responsibility.

I am renting out my property as "furnished". What furniture should be provided?
Property rented as furnished is not significant in law in the way that it once was. In the past it has had a bearing on a tenant's security of tenure, but this is no longer the case with modern tenancies. The property should contain furnishings and equipment necessary to live in that property. Essentially however, the property is "let as seen" and as agreed. It is best to check what will be provided prior to signing a contract.

The rent can then be agreed to reflect the amount and quality of those furnishings.

Who has the responsibility to pay bills?
This is subject to agreement and the contract should clearly set out who pays for what. Generally speaking it is the householder i.e. the tenant who will be billed by the utilities. If the tenancy is in a House in Multiple Occupation, bills for Council Tax, water and sewerage are likely to be sent to the landlord. The landlord can only recover this by suitable clauses in the contract where amounts to be paid are agreed in the contract, or the rent is agreed to be inclusive of bills. If gas and electric supplies are also shared with other tenants in the property, this should dealt with in the same way. It would be unreasonable for one tenant to be billed and then to have to collect from other tenants.

My landlord has not carried out repairs that I have reported some time ago. Do I have a right to withhold my rent?
First and foremost, there is no absolute right in law to withhold rent, as not paying rent is a breach of contract. But, if your landlord has taken an unreasonable length of time to deal with a particular repair, taking into account the size of the job and how long the job should reasonably take to organise, then you may have an argument that the landlord is in breach of contract. This would give you grounds to put forward an argument that a suitable reduction in rent is made until such time that the repair is carried out. If an agreement cannot be reached, it is best to get advice before taking any further action. If you are having problems getting repairs carried out, you may wish to contact the Environmental Health Department for further advice.