Seven rules your landlord MUST follow… and how to claim compensation if they don't | The Sun

HERE are the seven rules your landlord must follow – and how to claim compensation if they don't.

There are basic regulations a landlord must abide to, including keeping their tenant safe, carrying out health inspections and raising rent fairly.

Landlord responsibilities

A landlord must make sure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained, and supply the resident with an Energy Performance Certificate.

This should let them know how energy efficient the property is, and advises how to save money by reducing energy.

If you landlord cannot provide you with one they can be fined.

Fire safety

Landlords who fail to carry out electrical safety tests on properties they rent out could be fined up to £30,000, as part of a government crackdown.

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They are also required to fit and test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to keep the tenants safe.

If you are renting a property in a purpose-built block of flats, or houses adapted into flats, fire safety regulations must be followed.

Health and safety

There is a scheme in place by your local council called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

It makes sure residents are not at risk in their own home, and inspections can be carried out at the request of the tenant.

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The inspections include 29 health and safety areas to rate as either category one or two.

If the council finds a hazardous issue in the property, they can issue an improvement notice, fix the hazard themselves and bill the landlord.

It can also ban anyone entering the property if a hazarded is deemed that serious.

Financial responsibilities

They also have place your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme – this will ensure your money will be returned to you if you have met the terms of your agreement and have not damaged the property.

A deposit should be returned within 10 days of agreeing how much money will be given back – if there is a dispute over this, the deposit will be kept safe in the TDP.

However, if you have paid a deposit to 'hold' a property, before an agreement is official – it doesn't have to be protected.

Once a tenant has been secured they should be given a How to rent checklist – this provides information on what to look out for before renting, living in a rented home, what happens at the end of a tenancy and what to do if things go wrong.

Fair rent

There are rules a landlord has to follow when they want to increase rent for regulated tenancies – this is called fair rent.

They can only increase the rent up to the maximum set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

A landlord can ask the agency to review rent every two years, but if something has affected the value they can ask earlier.

Tenant's must be given a notice of increase and a landlord can charge the new rent from the date it's registered.

Landlords also need to complete a 'notice of increase' form and send it to their tenant.

You can backdate your notice of rent increase for up to 4 weeks.

When can a landlord increase rent

If the tenancy rolls on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis, landlords can usually put up the rent once a year.

However, for a fixed-term tenancy, running for a set period, rent can only be raised if the tenancy agreement permits it.

If not, landlords can only increase rent when the fixed term ends.

If you disagree with a rent increase, you can ask the First Tier Property Tribunal to decide the right amount.

Making repairs

Landlords have an obligation to keep the property in a good condition or they could have to fork out £5,000 in the small claims court.

The repairs must be carried out "within a reasonable time period", according to housing charity Shelter.

Unless it is an emergency, a landlord can enter your home but must give 24 hours' notice and a tenant has the right to stay in the property during repairs.

Here is the full list of items that your landlord is responsible for fixing in your home:

  • Electrical wiring
  • Gas pipes and boilers
  • Heating and hot water
  • Chimneys and ventilation
  • Sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • Common areas including entrance halls and stairways
  • Structure and exterior of the building – including: walls, stairs, bannisters, roof, external doors and windows

If repairs are significantly disruptive, tenants could claim for a reduction in their rent, this is called 'rent abatement', and the amount of reduced cost with depend on how much of the property is unusable.

Renters in England and Wales can take their landlords to court over problems including cold and damp homes.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act came into force in 2019 and amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 – it is in place to ensure landlords meet certain standards throughout the tenancy.

If they refuse to carry out repairs, tenants can:

  • Start a claim in the small claims court for repairs under £5,000
  • In some circumstances, carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent

Compensation for housing disrepair usually ranges from 25% to 50% of your rent, according to solicitors FreemanHarris.

For example, if you paid £9,600 in rent over a year and had heating issues continuously for that period, if your claim was successful you could get 25% of that back – which is £2,400 in compensation.

How much you'll get will depend on the damage and how long the landlord took to make the repairs.

For a list of more renters' rights you need to know and how to claim compensation, click here.

Settling disputes with your landlord

The first step is to try and talk through the problem, but if this does not go to plan you can write a formal letter.

It is advised to use a mediation service – it's usually quicker and cheaper than going to court.

However, if all of the above has failed, court is an option.

Cases will usually be sent to the small claims court if they are worth less than £10,000 or £1,000 if it is about repairs to a property.

You can get free advice from Shelter and free advice from Citizens Advice about disputes and housing problems.

In Wales, you can contact Shelter Cymru.

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Civil Legal Advice (CLA) can offer some people free and confidential services as part of legal aid, if you’re in England and Wales.

A solicitor can also help you, but they might charge a fee.

How to claim compensation from your landlord

You can claim compensation from your landlord if disrepair or poor conditions damage your health or cause you inconvenience, according to Shelter.

You can take legal action against your landlord under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act.

Courts can grant an injunction forcing the landlord to carry out works or award compensation to the renter.

But you will have to stump up for court fees unless you're entitled to free legal aid.

If you win your case, you might also get some of your costs back.

Alternatively, you may get a payout by complaining to the Housing Ombudsman.

Renters can also complain to a redress scheme if you rent privately through a letting agent, but only if the agent contributed to the dispute.

Different rules are in place for renters in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Visit Citizens Advice Scotland and Northern Ireland Direct for more information.

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