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The basic rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants

Updated: 20 Feb 2019
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All private tenants have basic rights, no matter how informal the arrangement
Making a complaint
Letting a property creates a legal relationship between the landlord and the tenant. No matter how informal you may intend the arrangement to be, it is bound by specific housing legislation. For example, the legislation defines the certain basic rights that all private tenants have, whether living in controlled or uncontrolled properties (see below).
Before letting, you should be clear about the property you have let, who you want to let it to and how you want it to be let. For example:
  • is the property an empty house, or flat, independent to your own home?
  • is the property an investment bought specifically with the intention of letting it?
  • do you want to let your property to a single tenant or a group of people?
  • do you intend to let part of the home you live in yourself, either sharing with the tenant, or on a self-contained basis?
Whatever you decide, it is important that you are both aware of your legal obligations as a landlord. The following section explains your general management responsibilities.

Landlord's rights

  • The right to charge a market rent (uncontrolled tenancy)
  • To agree the terms of the tenancy
  • To receive rent when it is due
  • To be advised of necessary repairs
  • To be given proper notice to quit by the tenant

Tenant's basic rights

  • The right to a rent book
  • The right to proper notice to quit
  • The right to freedom from harassment and illegal eviction
  • The right to due process of law
  • The right to claim Housing Benefit

Additional rights for tenancies started on or after 1st April 2007

  • The right to a tenancy statement
  • The right to default repairs
  • The right to a default tenancy term
For further guidance, download the Rent book (Adobe PDF 89 KB)

Before you begin

Before renting out your property, make sure you have permission to do so:
  • from your lender if the property is mortgaged
  • from your house insurance company

Finding tenants

You can advertise on property websites, in local newspapers or in local shop windows. Alternatively, you can employ the services of a letting agent. You may also wish to contact SMARTMOVE about their private rented sector access scheme which is designed to to help homeless people find decent, affordable accommodation by offering landlords a range of benefits and support. Further information and contact details are available in our SMARTMOVE section.

Letting/ managing agents

Letting and managing a property requires a lot of time and commitment. If you do not wish to, or are unable to take on this responsibility, you may want to consider using a agent to manage the property for you. Remember, if you employ the services of a managing agent the landlord’s responsibilities and obligations remain with the landlord and do not transfer to the agent.
If you want to use an agent you must be clear what services you want them to provide and whether they are able to do so. Some of the services they may provide include:
  • finding tenants
  • holding and managing deposits
  • preparing the tenancy agreement and furniture inventory
  • collecting rent
  • dealing with repairs
  • checking the condition of the property
The fees and services that letting/managing agencies charge may vary. Make sure you check thoroughly to find out what they will provide and how much it will cost.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

If you let your house out to several individuals it may be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Additional legislation applies to this kind of arrangement. Please see the HMO section for more information.