When you’re excited and getting ready to move into a new rental, the last thing on your mind are your tenant rights. However, it’s crucial to understand your right before signing on that dotted line.
We’ve created this article to help you learn about your rights as a tenant. This way, you can rest assured that you won’t be taken, and your rights will be protected.
There are tons of stories where landlords have taken advantage of students who don’t know their rights. The information in this article will educated you on these rights, so you won’t be taken in by an unscrupulous landlord. Plus, you may even save some money by understanding your rights.
1). What is an HMO?
This is an abbreviation you may come across as you search for a place to live. An HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) is a large property that will be let to three or more people who are not related to one another. This means, they’ll be sharing kitchen, bathroom, and toilet facilities in the home. These people who will share a home are not family or related to one another in any way.
You may find that many student accommodations are labeled as HMOs. Landlords who let properties labeled as HMOs have some extra requirements to follow.
2). Can Your Landlord Come in Unannounced?
The answer is no. The landlord, their estate agent or other representatives cannot enter your home without prior warning. For instance, if they need to have access for maintenance or repairs, they’re required to provide you with notice 24 hours in advance of their coming.
If you can’t be there when they come, and you’d like someone to be there, then you can request a witness to be present. This is one of your tenant rights.
Now, it is important to realise that a landlord or their representatives can enter the home without 24-hour notice if there’s an emergency. This would include situations such as a flood, gas leak, fire, or some other type of incident that’s caused damage to the home’s structure, or even if a crime has taken place in the home.
3). Can Tenants Have Guests or Sublet?
When it comes to guests staying, most rental agreements don’t mention this. If that’s the case, then all you need to do is talk it over with your housemates. It’s always a great idea to work things out the people you live with. Things can be uncomfortable, especially if your guest sleeps in the communal area of the home. And what happens if your guest causes damage? You’re liable.
Now, if you or a housemate would like to accept guests for money, or rent a room, this is called subletting. Subletting is usually not acceptable under most tenancy agreements. If you’re caught, then the landlord has the right to evict you.
The only way to get around this is to talk the issue over with your landlord first. Get their permission and then see how it goes. Remember, if your guest (invited or paying) causes damage or mayhem, you are liable.
4). Who is Responsible for Pest Control?
Many student homes can be home to more than your housemates. It may be the home also includes some pests. Pets that love to live in homes include mice, rats, bedbugs, and more. So, who is responsible for taking care of pests?
For mice, it’s important to let your landlord know as soon as possible. Then they should take care of getting rid of the pests quickly.
What about rats? This is another issue the landlord must deal with. Be sure to call them and the local health authority. This will get a team together to come and take care of the rats before they become a major health issue.
Bedbugs are a little different. In this case, it will depend on who’s fault it is that bedbugs have infested the home. That can be hard to figure out. However, if the bedbugs were already there when you moved in, then the landlord should take care of it. If the bugs were found after you moved in, or were caused by negligence (such as poor hygiene, not cleaning properly), then you’ll be responsible for getting rid of these horrible pests.
5). Should the Landlord Check the Appliances?
When it comes to gas appliances, the landlord must ensure they’ve been safely installed, properly maintained, and that they are checked each year. A Gas Safe registered engineer is required to check these appliances annually. And they create a record for every check, which the landlord should have filed.
Before signing the contract, be sure to ask to see the record of every gas check. This is a great way to make sure your landlord is compliant and does what’s necessary to ensure a safe home.
Landlords are also legally responsible to make sure all electrical equipment is safe. This means that all electrical equipment/appliances that are in the home such as ovens, cookstoves, microwaves, and more.
6). Can You Decorate Your Rented Home?
If you’d like to paint or do other major decorating projects, then you’ll need to first get written permission from the landlord. Keep in mind that while some landlords will let you paint, they may request that you re-paint the wall in its original colour before you move out.
For those places where you can’t paint the walls or do major redecorating, then you have some other options. Instead, consider using attractive wall art, rugs, pillows, and more. But when you go to hang that wall art, don’t damage the walls. If you must use a hammer and nails, then you may have a huge bill when you move out.
It’s a general rule that the rental home should be in the same condition when you move, as it was when you move in. It pays to take care of the home—then you won’t have to pay later for damage, and more!
7). How Much Notice is Required Before You Move Out?
For a fixed-term tenancy (which is usually about 12 months), your landlord can’t make you move early. The only way he can do this if the tenancy agreement specifies that the contract may end early.
For this to happen, it’s necessary to have what’s called a break clause in the tenancy agreement. The clause gives you or the landlord permission to end the tenancy early only after a determined period. The landlord must give you notice in writing.
Without this clause, the landlord will need to give you permission to end the tenancy early. Without their permission or agreement, then you’ll be stuck paying the rent until the end of the agreement. That’s even if you’ve already moved out.
When it comes to period tenancy (rolls over every week/month for an indefinite time), this is a little different. Notice must be given in writing and include the date when the tenancy will end. It should also carry the signature of the person giving the notice.
Summing It Up
Paying attention to details is critical when you’re looking to live in a student rental home. Know your rights, and you can’t go wrong!
We hope this guide helps you find a great landlord, as well as a great place to live.