Tenancy disputes: What landlords can’t do

Posted by Edward Jonkler on January 10, 2020

Renting someone else’s property can sometimes get a little complicated, so to protect your rights it’s good to familiarise yourself with what landlords can’t do should any disputes arise. Demystify this legal minefield with our essential round up of what landlords can’t do.

It’s unfortunate that this point needs to be raised, but landlords cannot deny a tenant based on their age, gender, race or sexuality. Similarly, the rate of rent cannot be catered to assumptions a landlord makes about a tenant based on their identity. For example, charging younger tenants more as they think damage to the property is more likely. Disabled tenants can also expect that reasonable changes will be made to the property by the landlord to allow them to live their comfortably.

Enter the property
Despite owning the property, landlords are not permitted to come and go as they please. Appropriate notice should be given if a landlord wishes to visit the property, and they require the permission of the tenants to open. They can’t enter a property because they believe it’s unoccupied, or arrive unannounced and demand to be let in.

Raise the rent at will
Rent is likely to increase as time goes by, but the period of time between rental reviews should be outlined in your tenancy agreement. As such, landlords do not have the right to raise rent whenever they see fit. If this information is missing from your tenancy agreement, request it be added so you can protect yourself from unfair increases.

Excessive late payment fees
Some landlords demand late payment fees if rent is not transferred on time, but the fee charge has to be deemed to be reasonable. If you believe yours is not, any charges incurred can be appealed in magistrates court and unless your fee genuinely reflects damages caused to the landlord as a result of your late payment, they will be forced to refund the charge.

Delay gas checks
Routine checks of the home are integral to best landlord practice, and your gas should be checked at least once every 12 months. A failure to do so can result in hefty fines and even a criminal negligence charge, so you have every right to dispute if safety checks are not being carried out annually.

Evict tenants to sell
If a tenant has a tenancy agreement of 12 months, the landlord cannot evict them after 6 so that they can sell the property. If the tenant and the landlord are able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement (usually involving a severance fee paid by the landlord to the tenant) then the tenancy agreement can be brought to a close before its completion – both parties willing. If a property is for sale, viewings must also be scheduled at a time that suits the tenants and can be denied if they are unsuitable.

In some cases, disputes with landlords can be simply resolved by an honest and reasonable conversation, so don’t feel afraid to raise concerns. If however you find you are not being listened to, you can seek further advice from a commercial or private property solicitor before taking further steps.

For more information on your rights as a tenant visit https://www.gov.uk/private-renting

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