There are laws created to protect your rights as a tenant. You should be made aware of what your rights are and what the duties of your landlord are.
General tenancy rights
What rights you have as a tenant will depend on the type of tenancy you have. Most tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies, but there are a number of other different types, so you will need to check with your landlord, local authority housing office or housing association if you're not sure. Your tenancy agreement, if you have one, should also state what sort of tenancy you have.
Shelter has a useful guide to the different types of tenancy and what rights you have.
It is illegal for any landlord or agency to discriminate in the sale, letting, assignment, sub-letting or management of land or property (including business and residential properties). This covers:
- Refusing to let a property to you
- Offering less favourable terms
- Treating you worse than other possible tenants
- Evicting you based on your disabilities
- Discriminating in relation to how you use your benefits or facilities
A landlord must make "reasonable" adjustments to the property that you request to suit your needs. What counts as reasonable is based on:
- How much the changes will cost the landlord
- Safety of and disruption to other tenants
- Whether changes might reduce the selling/letting price to future tenants
The Equality Act 2010 extended these duties to include a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to common areas, such as building entrances and stairwells.
A landlord must change any practices or procedures that may be unfavourable or challenging for the tenant. For example, if letters are used as the main method of communication between the landlord and tenant, a tenant who is visually impaired will require telephone or face-to-face communication and the landlord should provide this.
If you care for a person and live in their home (the property is in their name), when they die you may have the right to succession. The right of succession is the right to continue to live there after they have died. This right depends on the type of tenancy, your relation to the person you care for and how long you have lived there:
- You will gain the right to succession under a council tenancy if you are the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, if you are a close relative who lived with them and there is no spouse/civil partner or if you have been living with them for at least a year before they died.
- The rules for the right of succession under a housing association tenancy are largely the same as for a council tenancy provided the tenancy is a secure housing association tenancy.
- The conditions for gaining the right of succession under private tenancies are more complicated than for council tenancies and housing association tenancies. If it is an assured tenancy, the deceased's spouse or civil partner could take over the tenancy. If it is a fixed-term contract the deceased tenant may be permitted to dictate the right of succession in their will. Since the rules for succession in private tenancies is more complicated, you should seek legal advice to help you understand your rights.
If you think you need to take legal action in relation to a tenancy issue then you can get more information on our Obtaining legal advice page.
Other information and advice
If you would like to receive independent advice on housing, or on benefits, legal issues, accessing care and support, your rights as a carer, and a range of other issues, then you can contact WestminsterCAB