Top 9 most common private-renting related questions

Boiler Plan discovered that, in the current climate, searches for ‘tenants rights’ have increased by 15% – suggesting Brits are still in the dark about their rental rights. This is becoming ever more present as renters are currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19, and what could happen to the rental and housing market.

Leeds private renters are one of the top 10 cities in the UK that seem to most unaware of their renter’s rights according to Google search volumes, and so we thought we’d share the most commonly asked questions with you and answer your queries.

 

In April the most common questions were:

 

‘Can landlords increase rent’ – 3,200 Google searches

‘Can landlord evict me’ – 1,880 Google searches

‘Responsibilities as a tenant’ – 1,600 Google searches

‘Can letting agents charge fees’ – 760 Google searches

‘Can landlord keep deposit’ – 550 Google searches

‘What are tenancy fees’ – 250 Google searches

‘Can you paint a rented house’ – 220 Google searches

‘Does landlord have to fix boiler’ – 130 Google searches

‘What is landlord responsible to repair’ – 110 Google searches

With that in mind, we thought we’d share our expertise and pull together information on some of your rights that you might not be aware of as a private tenant, such as maintenance and repair works and even, who is responsible for your boiler.

 

Can landlords increase rent?

 

If you are, currently, in a fixed-term contract, your landlord or letting agent cannot increase rent whenever they like and must follow certain rules. This is unless you agree to it or you have a clause in your tenancy agreement that allows it. However, you can find more information on negotiating with your landlord at Citizens Advice.

 

Can a landlord evict me?

 

Most tenants cannot be evicted at the moment. As a private tenant, there are strict procedures your landlord must follow if they are looking to evict you. Due to the coronavirus, the government introduced new legislation to protect tenants and all court action is currently on hold until 25th June 2020.  However, should your landlord feel you are in breach of your tenancy agreement and wish to evict you once courts are allowed to proceed in taking action then this will be dependent on the tenancy agreement you have. You can seek more reassurance and further answers on the Gov website.

 

What are my responsibilities as a tenant?

 

First and foremost, you should understand your responsibilities as a tenant. Staggeringly, this is the third most searched for question, suggesting that renters could be risking their home by not understanding the guidelines.

The main responsibilities to follow are:

  • Pay your rent on time or speak to your landlord/letting agent if you have financial struggles.
  • Look after the home. This involves reporting any repairs to the landlord, ensuring the home is well-ventilated and regularly checking smoke alarms.
  • Allow your landlord access for any repairs. However, they must provide 24 hours notice and not just turn up, with the repairs set for a reasonable time during the day.
  • Report any repairs immediately and do not fix them before speaking to your landlord/letting agent to ensure you are not liable for the cost.
  • Allow annual gas safety checks. The landlord must regularly service the boiler to identify any faults that could cause serious issues.
  • Live in your home. You could lose your tenancy if you choose to sublet your property.

 

Can letting agents charge fees? / What are tenancy fees?

 

The ban on tenant fees came into force on 1 June 2019, applying to new or renewed tenancy agreements from that date. The legislation aims to reduce the costs that tenants face at the outset. Furthermore, as of 1 June 2020, existing tenancies cannot be charged fees. More information on what fees agents can charge can be found on the Gov website.

 

Can landlords keep the deposit?

 

A deposit is, essentially, insurance against something going wrong in the property. Your landlord is within reason to keep the deposit if they have suffered financial loss from the below:

  • The rental property has been damaged.
  • The rent hasn’t been paid.
  • Items are missing from the home that was part of your tenancy agreement.
  • The property needs to be cleaned.
  • You left before the end of your tenancy agreement.

However, it’s important that your deposit is protected and, if it hasn’t been within 30 days, you could receive up to three times the amount. You can seek help from Citizens Advice and more if you believe they are holding your deposit unjustly.

 

Can you paint a rented house?

 

Brits are embracing DIY more than ever. So, it’s little surprise that ‘can you paint a rented house’ has seen a 36% increase in searches between March and April 2020, and is the 8th most searched for rental question in the UK

You will need to ask your letting agent or landlord first before digging out the paint brushes. Your landlord should be redecorating and touching up the paint every three years. So, if you intend to be there for that length of time, why not suggest to your landlord that you could do the painting for them – saving them the time and hassle. However, you may need to repaint when you leave, so we suggest erring on the side of caution when it comes to dark colours.

 

Does the landlord have to fix the boiler?

 

Surprisingly, this is a very common question for renters with over 130 searches per month. Landlords absolutely have a responsibility to repair the boiler if the tenant hasn’t purposely damaged it. It’s important that you have complete access to heating and hot water.

The minimum heating standard is 18 degrees for the living room and 21 for the bedroom. In the colder months, you shouldn’t be left without heating for 24 hours. If this extends past two days, it is considered a health hazard and a serious breach of the tenancy agreement. You must provide a clear and written explanation of any heating/hot water issues via text or email to ensure your message is recorded. We ask that all tenants of our managed properties report any maintenance issues via our online reporting system.

It’s also required by law that landlords install at least one smoke alarm on each storey of their property. They must also fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire. This could result in a £5,000 penalty if not followed.

Landlords are also not able to rent a property unless it has an energy efficient rating of at least E on its Energy Performance Certificate. This new legislation applies to existing tenants, not just new renters and can result in a civil penalty of £4,000.

For any landlords/tenants wondering if it is still possible to carry out urgent boiler repair during the pandemic, it is absolutely. Our team is doing everything they can to ensure you are not without heat or hot water and that all our contractors are practising social distancing guidelines.

 

What is the landlord responsible to repair?

 

If you are wondering what repairs the landlord is responsible for, it is generally the structure and exterior of your home. This would include the roof and walls, for instance. They should also maintain the pipework, toilets, water, boilers, wiring, radiators, fitted fires and other heaters.

 

 

We hope we’ve helped to answer your frequently asked questions. Remember, if you’re privately renting and are unsure of your responsibilities for your home, your tenancy agreement will outline everything you need to know. If you’re currently looking for a new home, rest assured we’ve got you covered:

  • At HARDISTY AND CO, we provide a very personal service, delivered by our dedicated lettings team, to ease you through the lettings process from start to finish.
  • Our offices are currently open six days a week (updated COVID-19 opening hours) and hopefully soon we will be back to seven days a week. We also have a 24 hours out of office emergency phone line available too.
  • We are members of the UK’s lettings industry regulatory bodies; ARLA, The Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Client Money Protection and the Property Ombudsman; so you know that you are in the hands of a trusted letting and property management agent.
  • We utilise the latest technology such as mobile responsive websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as high-quality digital property details to show-case our properties.
  • 24 hour maintenance reporting using Fixflo Property Repair Software via website for our managed properties – report your property issues instantly and our team will be sure to work as quickly as possible to resolve your maintenance issues.
  • Virtual viewings available for our newly listed properties.
  • Applications for properties taken over the phone for ease – no need to come to our office unnecessarily or filling out forms!
  • All our properties are vetted and checked that they comply with current government legislation prior to finding a new tenant, meaning Gas Safety, Electrical, Boiler and Energy Performance checks are all up to date before you move in.

 

 

Start your property search today, view our properties for rent here.

 

 

 

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