Landlords and their letting agents aren’t always sketchy, but they can certainly benefit from tenants not always being in the know.
Learning the ins and outs of the law shouldn’t be our job as tenants. It also isn’t something we have time for!
But, unfortunately, if we don’t know these things, our landlords aren’t always going to fill us in, especially if they have something to gain from it.
Have you ever wondered, what DOESN’T my landlord want me to know? You’re in luck!
We’ve researched some of the top things many tenants don’t know and summarised them in a handy, quick-read article for you.
Here’s our take on the most important things landlords DON’T want tenants to know.
1. You Can Turn Them Away at the Door
Landlords or letting agents will never tell you this, but if they show up at your house without giving you notice, you can turn them away at the door.
Legally, they need to provide at least 24 hours’ written notice that they want to visit. You can accept less notice if you want, but you don’t have to.
You also don’t have to accept the date or time that they propose if it’s inconvenient for you (you are allowed to have plans, after all!).
But don’t delay their visit unnecessarily or out of principle, especially if it’s to do maintenance that benefits you.
Be especially careful if you’re delaying an inspection, too. Your landlord or letting agent may get suspicious if you delay it for too long.
Read our handy guide on what landlords can and can’t do during visits.
2. You Can Refuse Viewings
A common complaint heard by tenants is that landlords or letting agents show up unannounced to host a viewing with a potential buyer/new tenant.
While you may think you have to simply grin and bear it since you’re moving out, this is absolutely not allowed.
All visits, including viewings, must be communicated to you with at least 24 hours’ notice. Unless it’s stated in your lease, you don’t have to accept every viewing.
You still have a right to quiet enjoyment, even when your landlord is selling the property. This means you can say no to viewings if it’s causing significant disruption.
However, don’t be unreasonable and say no to all viewings just because you can. If your landlord needs to sell or find a new tenant (because you’re moving out), they need to schedule viewings at some point.
Just set some boundaries around how often you want visitors in your home and only accept planned visits.
For example, give them set days of the week they can schedule viewings for, like every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 1pm and 5pm.
3. You Can (Often) Say No to Rent Increases
Many landlords try to get away with raising rent whenever they want. Most of the time, they’re successful because tenants don’t know they can say no.
Even if your landlord says you have to accept it and it’s allowed, there are rules about how often and how much they can actually raise your rent.
Don’t just assume they’re right, as you may be able to decline the increase.
Here are the circumstances that landlords can raise your rent:
- Once per year, if you’re on a periodic tenancy
- Only if you agree to it if you’re on a fixed-term tenancy
- Only if there’s a rent review clause in your tenancy
- After the end of your fixed-term tenancy
If your landlord tries to raise rent outside of the above circumstances, you can say no.
By law, they are also required to give you proper notice of any rent increases, which could be up to 6 months.
Another thing landlords don’t want you to know is that you can still challenge the amount, even when a rent increase is “allowed” within the lease.
All rent increases have to be fair and realistic. I.e., your landlord should keep the rent price in line with the market rates.
If you think your rent increase is too high, you can negotiate a lower amount. If they say no, you can appeal the decision.
Read our quick-tip guide on how to deal with a rent increase.
4. They Can’t Enter Without Your Permission
So your landlord is selling your home, and they need to conduct viewings. You come home from work early one day to find a letting agent and strangers in your home.
The letting agent says, “Hey, it’s fine; your landlord said we can come in!”.
Absolutely not. A letting agent, estate agent or landlord cannot enter your home without your permission.
The only time they can do this is if there’s an emergency like a pipe has burst, and they need immediate access and/or can’t get hold of you.
If your letting agent or landlord has been entering your home without your permission, it can class as harassment.
You can ask them to stop or make a formal complaint.
Shelter has a handy email template you can send to your landlord if they enter without your permission.
5. You Can Sue (Quite Easily) If They Don’t Protect Your Deposit
One of the worst things about renting is having to pay a deposit upfront.
But the good news is that you could be owed three times your deposit amount if your landlord doesn’t protect your deposit.
Your landlord should have protected your deposit in one of the government schemes when you first paid it to them. They also should have notified you which scheme they used.
If they didn’t do this, you can make a claim against them and get £ 1000’s in return. Making a claim sounds like a lot of effort, but it isn’t so bad when you know what to do.
Read our no-nonsense guide on what to do if your deposit wasn’t protected.
6. Rent Deposits Don’t Have to be Paid Upfront
Okay, so landlords probably aren’t too concerned about you knowing this one. But they probably won’t tell you about it either!
So, we’re here to fill you in. For the first time ever (in 2022), rent deposits don’t have to be paid upfront. You can also transfer your deposit from one property to another when you move.
It’s called a Lifetime Deposit, exclusively provided by us at Fronted.
Signing up is easy. When you have one of these deposits, you can quickly move from one rental to another, without having to scrimp months before.
Learn more about how to get a Lifetime Deposit.
7. They Can’t Excessively Message
Even though you’re living in your landlord’s property, it’s “yours” the moment you sign the lease. When you move in, you have a right to something the government likes to call “quiet enjoyment”.
In less polite terms, this basically means you can live in your home without your landlord or letting agent breathing down your neck.
We’ve seen stories online of landlords or letting agents texting you daily if they have a question or if you’re late on rent.
While they are allowed to contact you and follow-up if you haven’t actioned something you need to, they can’t pester you.
That means no daily calls, no excessive messaging, and no dropping round your house unexpectedly to “check-in”.
This is especially important if you’re late on rent and have agreed on a payment plan, but they keep checking in with you anyway.
8. They Can’t Have Blanket “No Pets Allowed” Polices
When searching for a new rental on property portals, you’ll probably notice approximately zero of them will say you can keep a pet.
Technically, this isn’t allowed. Under the Model Tenancy Agreement for Shorthold Assured Tenancies, landlords cannot issue a blanket ban on pets.
Instead, all tenants on the model agreement have a right to request to keep a pet. Landlords have to “seriously” consider your application and only say no if they have a good reason.
They can still say no, which is bad news if you’ve always wanted a furry companion. Or if you have to hide your pet in the wardrobe during inspections! (Which we don’t condone, but know it happens!).
Essentially, these rules mean you can always ask.
The even better news is that the government will soon be introducing more rules around renting with pets.
By (hopefully) the end of 2022, the new Renter’s Reform Bill should make it significantly easier for you to rent with pets and even harder for your landlord to say no to it.
Read our expert guide on how to get your landlord to say yes to pets.
9. They Can’t Make You Pay for Professional End of Tenancy Cleaning
We hope most people know this by now. But, sadly, landlords are still out here trying to get tenants to pay for professional cleaning!
Some landlords “require” tenants to pay for professional cleaning in the lease. Most of the time, this is considered unfair and inappropriate.
The rules are generally that you have to restore the property to its original condition and level of cleanliness.
In reality, you’re expected to clean the property exceptionally, sometimes to an even higher standard than it was in previously.
You can pay for professional cleaning if you like, but it can be expensive. As long as you clean the property to the same standards as when you moved in, you shouldn’t need to pay a professional cleaner.
Only in very exceptional cases can landlords make you pay for professional cleaning. This is usually if they paid for it, especially for you before you moved in, and you agreed to doing it again when you moved out.
Read our guide on everything you need to know about end of tenancy cleaning.
10. They Can’t Refuse to Complete Essential Repairs
As the tenant, you’ll need to do some (maybe most) things to keep the property working.
However, your landlord is responsible for all major repair work on the property. They must do these repairs by law, especially if the issues pose a risk to your health.
Some bad landlords will ignore you when you report repairs, or they’ll refuse to do them. But there are certain repairs they legally aren’t allowed to refuse to do.
You don’t have to put up with this behaviour from your landlord. They are ways you can deal with this and people that can support you through the process.
It’s especially important to get help if you think your landlord will threaten eviction if you complain.
Learn more about what repairs your landlord is responsible for and how to take further action.
11. They Can’t Write Whatever They Want in Your Lease
Landlords are legally obligated to do various stuff. This includes things like supplying smoke alarms, making essential repairs and ensuring your home is “fit for living”.
Your landlord can’t just write what they want into the lease. Nor can they omit certain information and then expect you to deal with problems because it’s “not in the lease”.
If something important isn’t included in your lease, the rules default to what the law says. So, the landlord will still be responsible for whatever it is they omitted.
Likewise, if the landlord tries to shift all their legal responsibilities onto you, as the tenant, in the lease, you still may not be responsible.
They can, however, assign minor responsibilities to you within the lease, like that you need to change the lightbulbs if they burn out.
Learn more about your landlord’s maintenance responsibilities.
12. They Have to Return a Holding Deposit If…
Letting agents sometimes charge a holding deposit on a property if it’s in demand (or if they just fancy it!).
This is essentially a reserve fee. You pay to reserve the property and take it off the market while you undertake tenant referencing checks.
What some landlords won’t tell you is that you should get your holding deposit back if you didn’t end up renting the property and you:
- Failed the financial check but told the truth about your finances in your application
- Failed the immigration check and didn’t receive a written reason within 7 days of being rejected as to why they should keep your holding deposit
Unfortunately, if you pulled out of renting the property, got rejected because you lied about your finances, or failed your immigration check, but received a written reason within 7 days saying why they need to keep your deposit, you won’t get your money back.
They also need to give you the holding deposit back, or put it towards your security deposit (with your permission), if you do sign the lease.
Related article: A renter’s ultimate guide to passing tenant referencing
Considering Moving Rental?
Fed up with how your landlord is treating you? Or just ready to find somewhere new? We have good news!
You no longer need to save up for a deposit every time you move.
For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.
A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.
We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!