Before you dive into the exciting and challenging world of buy to let, it is important to get to grips with your legal responsibilities as a landlord. This includes knowing your what your tenant’s rights are.
Rental property is still a popular choice for many investors. Low buy-to-let interest rates mean that geared investments often out-compete traditional savings, and good long-term prospects for property price growth are enticing. As a result, new landlords are entering the market all the time.
The wealth of legislation involved in being a landlord can sometimes catch these new entrants unawares. This article covers the very basics: four tenant’s rights that absolutely every landlord should know about.
Four tenant’s rights every landlord should know about
The right to quiet enjoyment
When your property is vacant, you can go in and out as you please. When you have a tenant in situ, however, they have effective control over the property, meaning you or your representatives cannot freely come and go. You can’t enter without notice or permission; this even applies if your tenant has broken the terms of their agreement with you (something a lot of landlords don’t know). If you ignore your tenant’s right to live in your property undisturbed, you could be found guilty of harassment – a serious crime.
The right of a tenant to live in a property in a good state of repair
Most of the tales of rogue landlords that hit the news are about those that let their tenants live in squalid conditions. There are basic standards your property must meet if you are to charge people rent to live in it, and severe sanctions await landlords whose properties fall short of them.
The tenant’s right to know the details of the tenancy
Assured shorthold tenants have the right to request a statement of tenancy terms as follows:
- The date that the tenancy started
- The amount of rent payable and the day due
- When and how you can change the rent you charge
- The length of the fixed term, if applicable
Additionally, if rent is charged weekly, you need to be able to evidence this in a rent book. If you are a landlord in Northern Ireland, you need to provide a rent book no matter how often you charge rent.
The right of the tenant to be protected from illegal eviction
All landlords should know about their tenants’ rights where illegal eviction is concerned. The penalties for illegal eviction can amount to several thousand pounds’ worth of damages and even prison sentences in some cases.
Being a good landlord
There’s no hard and fast rule to being a good landlord. These four tenants' rights are only an introduction to the world of landlord law, but they should give you an idea of what to expect from your property management career. If at any point you are in doubt about your legal standing, remember to get in touch with a property professional such as an accredited letting agent or solicitor.