Rent rises 2.1% in a year, but what are you actually paying for?


Rent rises 2.1% in a year, but what are you actually paying for?

Renting! It’s becoming an expensive business. In the last year alone, rents went up by 2.1% according to an article in The Guardian. So, with rents hitting new highs, it’s important to make sure you get what you pay for. Obviously you’re paying to live in the property, but that’s not all. The rent and contract details what the landlord is expected to do in exchange for his money. So, let’s have a look at what that is exactly?

There are a number of things your landlord needs to do that are legal requirements, in laymans terms that means they have no choice. These are:

1.  Protect your deposit – by the 23rd June this year, landlords will be required to put the deposit into a tenancy deposit service, such as My Deposits or Tenancy Deposit Service. This applies to all landlords with private tenants, so even if you paid yours before 6th April 2007, when the tenancy deposit scheme came in, this law still applies. They’ll now have to find a scheme, deposit your money and write to you to tell you where the money is being held.

2.  Make sure yearly gas checks are carried out – your landlord is required to have the gas appliances checked at least once a year. And this cannot be done by any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Nope, it must be by a registered Gas Safe engineer.

3.  Have the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available – since October 2008 it’s been a legal requirement for landlords to provide an EPC, free of charge, to prospective and new tenants. Landlords and agents should also have the EPC available within 7 days of putting a property on the market. If they fail to do this, and you sign a contract, it will not be valid and the agent and landlord risk a fine from Trading Standards.  

4.  Let you live in peace without harassing you – your landlord may need to come round on the odd occasion to fix something or for maintenance work. However, they are not allowed to turn up whenever they like and expect to come in. They should give you notice and try to arrange a time to visit that suits you both. If you’re happy to let the landlord in when you’re not there, that’s fine. If not, don’t agree to it. The same goes if they turn up at unreasonable times, or they try to stop you entering the property or using the utilities – it’s not allowed!          

5.  Carry out repairs – your landlord has a duty to carry most of the external repairs to the property. This includes, roofs, chimneys, gutters, walls and drains, as well as the hardware for keeping the supply of gas, electricity and water in working order too. You’re responsible for most of the internal things, light bulbs and the like.

6.  Follow the rules on rent – they must tell you how much the rent is, when and how frequently it’s due and what modes of payment are acceptable. They are also prevented from raising the rent during a short hold tenancy agreement. Once the agreement ends, they will be able to put the rent up. And, they cannot refuse rent from you. If they do, keep trying to pay it and keep it to one side.

7.  Provide you with their contact details – you are entitled to the name and address of your landlord, even if the tenancy is through an agency. They have 21 days in which to do this or risk a fine.  

8.  Make sure the furniture and electricals are safe – any furniture must be fire retardant and any electrical items must be safe too. In certain buildings, where more than one family live, landlords must also provide certain extra fire precautions.  

9.  Follow the correct exit procedure – if the landlord decides they want you to leave, they must follow the correct procedures. You are protected by law and landlords cannot evict you without good reason. The amount of notice they must give will depend on the type of tenancy you have.

To find out more about your rights and what your landlord must do, and you get help and advice if they’re not holding up their end of the bargain, see Shelter's comprehensive website.  You can also read our guide on how to complain to your landlord for more advice.