Over the last decade, to be specific between 2007 and 2017, the number of households renting a privately owned property in the UK jumped from 2.8 million to 4.5 million. The proportion of people living in private rented accommodation is higher in England (20%) than Scotland (15%) and Wales (15%), but it is increasing across the United Kingdom.
With so many people living in houses they don’t own, it’s critical that tenants know what to expect when they rent. As a tenant living in the UK in a private rented property, you should stay on top of the latest developments when renting from a private landlord.
In this article, we’ll go over how to rent in England, what you should do as a renter, and the landlord’s responsibilities when you’re renting.
What Is Meant by Private Renting for Tenants?
This tenancy agreement is a contract between a tenant and a landlord. The contract enables you to stay in the property as long as you pay the rent and follow the rules as laid by your landlord. It also outlines your tenancy’s legal terms and conditions. It can be a written or an oral agreement.
There are two types of tenancies-
Fixed-term – It has a definite start and an end date.
Periodic – This may run on a month-by-month or weekly basis.
The tenancy system acts as a legal agreement between a tenant and a landlord, and it is an important part of ensuring the smooth operation of the private rented sector.
A new tenancy was introduced on 1st December 2017, ‘the private residential tenancy’, to replace the assured and short assured tenancy agreements for all new tenancies.
Common Tenancy types
Assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)
The most common tenancy in the UK is an AST. Any tenancy can follow in this type if:
- The rented property is private
- The start date of the tenancy type is after 15 January 1989
- The property is your main accommodation
- Your landlord does not stay on the same property
A tenancy is not an AST if:
- It began or was agreed before 15 January 1989
- The rent is more than £100,000 a year
- The rent is less than £250 a year (less than £1,000 in London)
- It’s a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises
- The property is a holiday let
- Your landlord is a local council
Excluded tenancies or licences
In this type of tenancy, you may lodge with your landlord and share rooms with them. With excluded tenancy or licence, you will have less protection from eviction.
Tenancies starting between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 may be assured. You’ll have increased protection from eviction with this type of agreement.
Tenancies starting before 15 January 1989 may be regulated. You’ll have increased protection from eviction and can apply for a ‘fair rent’.
What should a tenancy agreement include?
- The names of all people involved
- The rental price and how it’s paid
- Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
- The deposit amount and how it will be protected
- Details of when the deposit can be fully or partly withheld (for example to repair the damage you’ve caused)
- The property addresses
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- Any tenant or landlord obligations
- An outline of bills you’re responsible for
Other information that can be included:
- If the tenancy can be ended yearly and how
- Who’s responsible for minor repairs
- If the property can be further sublet or have lodgers
Tenancy terms must be fair and comply with the law-
Tenancy agreement should not include anything that may indirectly discriminate against the tenant. Tenant must seek legal advice before signing the agreement and sign it only once they are happy with it and get a copy. Citizens Advice has a guide on tenancy agreements.
Changes to Tenancy Agreements
To change the terms of your tenancy agreement, you, and your landlord both should agree.
There should be absolutely no scope of any sort of discrimination because of:
- Sexual orientation
- Disability (or because of something connected with your disability)
- Religion or belief
- Being a transgender person
- Being pregnant or having a baby
How to End Your Tenancy
The agreement should have your notice period mentioned for the knowledge of your landlord. You need to pay rent for the entire fixed term tenancy. But you can leave without paying full tenancy rent if:
- Your tenancy agreement contains a break clause
- Your landlord agrees to let you out early
- Information on terminating a tenancy can be found at Shelter
If your lease automatically expires after a certain date and you want to terminate it, you must notify your landlord before your lease expires.
Ending a Tenancy
Your landlord can take back your property without giving enough reason if you have:
- A periodic tenancy
- A fixed-term tenancy that has ended
But this can only apply if:
- Your landlord has protected your deposit in a deposit protection scheme
- You have lived at the property for minimum 6 months
How much notice your landlord must give
The landlord must give you the notice to quit if they want the property back, the notice duration should be:
(Notice period rules have been changed because of Covid-19)
- 2 months if they gave you notice before 26 March 2020
- 3 months if they gave you notice between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020
- 6 months if they gave you notice on or after 29 August 2020
The notice must tell you the date you have to leave.
If your tenancy started or was renewed after 1 October 2015:
Your landlord cannot evict you if they’ve been served notice by the council because of a complaint you made to the council about the living conditions in the property.
Your landlord must also provide you:
- A copy of the leaflet ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’
- An energy performance certificate
- A gas safety certificate
They must use ‘form 6a’ to give you notice in England. This is also known as a “Notice seeking possession of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.” They do not have to use form 6a in Wales, but they must give you notice in writing.
If your tenancy began or was renewed after October 1, 2015:
If your landlord has been served with an eviction notice by the council because of a complaint you made to the council about the living conditions in the property, your landlord cannot evict you.
- If you’re asked to leave during the fixed term
- You could be asked to leave during the fixed term if they have certain reasons. For example, if:
- If you haven’t paid your rent
- You’ve misused the property for illegal purposes
- You’ve damaged the property
The notice period can vary up to 2 months.
If the notice was served to you between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020, your landlord must give you 3 months to leave the property.
If you’ve been given notice since 29 August 2020, your landlord must give you 6 months to leave. You might have to leave much sooner if you’re evicted using a section 8 notice, depending on the reason for eviction.
In Wales, the notice period must be:
- At least 6 months for any notice given on or after 24 July 2020
- At least 3 months for notices relating to antisocial behaviour
Your landlord will have to use one of the Housing Act 1988’s reasons or “grounds” for possession.
Excluded Tenancies or Licences:
If you are sharing rooms with your landlord or are lodging, you will have an excluded tenancy or licence.
To quit, your landlord only needs to give you a “reasonable notice.” This usually refers to the length of the rental payment period – for example, if you pay rent monthly, you will receive one month’s notice. The notice doesn’t need to be in writing.
Non-excluded Tenancy or Licence:
Your landlord can end the tenancy at any time by serving a ‘notice to quit. The usual notice period is a minimum of 4 weeks, but it may vary depending on the agreement.
If your tenancy agreement has a break clause, your landlord can give you notice after this. During the first six months of the tenancy, however, your landlord does not have a guaranteed right to possession.
If You Do Not Leave the Property:
You cannot be evicted by your landlord by force. If you do not vacate the property after the notice period has expired, your landlord may seek eviction through the courts.
As a tenant, if you don’t meet your responsibilities or are found to be in breach of your tenancy agreement, then your landlord can take legal action to evict you. This should be the last resort both for you and your landlord.
To avoid getting to that point, make sure you read your tenancy agreement in its entirety and, if you have any questions, contact your landlord or letting agent.
This article was brought to you by Shergroup. A bit about Shergroup:
Shergroup has developed our property services for the benefit of the community, so we have a one-stop-shop of protection for you. Get in touch with us if you may need assistance for removing trespassers from your property, send an eviction notice or get your tenant screening done. Alongside we also offer commercial rent arrears recovery services (CRAR for short), enforcement of forfeiture clauses in commercial leases, and common law evictions for landowners using our enforcement service.