||Landlord & tenant
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is vital that you are aware of
your legal rights and obligations. The law protects both parties and does not
permit you to 'take the law into your own hands', irrespective of
It is important that landlords fully understand their obligations. The
Disability Discrimination Act, Sex Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act
these also apply to anyone letting, selling or managing premises. If you are in
doubt about anything seek legal advice.
What is the landlord responsible for?
- repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot
water installations, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations
- the safety of gas and electrical appliances
- the fire safety of furniture and furnishings provided under the tenancy
- ensuring that the property is fit for habitation
- repairing and keeping in working order the room and water heating
- the common areas in multi-occupancy dwellings
What is the tenant responsible for?
- paying the rent as agreed and taking proper care of the property
- bills for gas electricity, telephone, etc if this was agreed with your
- in most cases, paying the council tax, water and sewerage charges
Landlord and tenant Debt Advice
Landlord and tenant law is continuously changing.
aspects of landlord and tenant debt advice shown below is clear advice
and practical solutions on such matters as:
- lease negotiation
- lease renewal (contested and uncontested)
- rent reviews/rent recovery
- assignments and sub-letting
- landlords' consents
- recovery of possession
- compensation claims
- schedules of dilapidations
- enforcement of covenants
- recovery of service charges
- agricultural tenancies
- leasehold enfranchisements
What will happen if I donít pay my rent?
Your rent goes to cover the cost of maintaining and managing your home. If
some are tenants are allow to get away with not paying their rent, the rest of you
will suffer because youíre paying for their homes. That is why landlords and
housing associations make sure they collect all the rent they are owed. Ultimately if you do not pay your rent you may lose your home.
This section shows the different steps that will be taking if you get into debt. Most landlords and housing associations charge reasonable rents and take
action against people who do not pay.
Iíve got problems paying my rent. What should I do?
If you have problems paying your rent, you should let your landlord know as
soon as you can. Please donít ignore the problem because it will not go away and if
left will only get worse. Please do not be embarrassed to talk to
your landlord about your difficulties everything you tell then should be
treated in confidence.
Pre-court letter for rent debt arrears
If you agree to clear your debt and stick to the agreement, most landlords
and housing associations will not take any further action. However, if the debt continues to increase, they will apply to
the court. They
will write to tell you this. At court the judge will decide what happens. You could be ordered to pay your weekly rent, plus an amount off the debt,
or you could risk losing your home. Court costs are also added to your debt, meaning that you have to pay more.
Warrant for rent debts
If you do not make the payments you are asked to or leave your home as
ordered by the court, you will receive a warrant of possession which allows
the landlord or housing association to evict you.
Eviction for rent debts
The county court bailiff carries out the eviction. You will still have to pay the debt you owe and may then find it difficult
to get another home. Please donít let it get to this stage. There are plenty
of opportunities to sort out problems early on.
Remember: Whatever stage you are at you can stop the
process by making an offer that you can afford.
Reminder for rent debts
If you get behind with your rent, the landlord or housing associations will
remind you that you owe rent.
Notice seeking possession for rent debts
If within six weeks, you have not contacted your landlord, or if you still
owe the landlord six weeksí rent, you will most likely be served a notice
seeking possession. This is a legal notice that allows your landlord to take you to court. You have four weeks to clear your debt before further legal action is
taken or if you have not already done so at this point, it is very important that
you contact your landlord. Your landlord or housing association will talk through the situation with
you and agree how you can sort out the problem.
This may involve you:
- signing a repayment plan
- applying for benefit or
- chasing outstanding benefit claims
How can I pay off my rent debt?
- Make an agreement with your housing services officer or landlord.
- Offer to pay a reasonable amount each week to pay off the debt.
- Check your entitlement to Housing Benefit.
Remember, even if your rent is paid by Housing Benefit, you are
still responsible for paying it.
- If you get Housing Benefit, you can offer to have it paid direct to the
landlord or housing association.
- If you get Income Support or income-based Jobseekerís Allowance, you can
have part of them paid to the landlord or housing association.
- Always prioritise your rent. Whatever other debts you have, if you donít
pay your rent you could lose your home.
- If you get an eviction date, ask for help immediately it isnít too late.
Harassment or an Unlawful Eviction for Rent Debts
If harassment or an unlawful eviction takes place outside office hours when
the council cannot be contacted, the complaint should initially be made to the
As well as being affected with criminal offences, harassment and illegal eviction
also matters which can be the subject of civil action. This means the tenant can sue the landlord
in the civil courts, i.e. the County or High Court.
A tenant can apply for the following remedies in the civil courts:
- Injunction - this is a court order which requires the
landlord to do or refrain from doing something. For example, an injunction
can be obtained to prohibit the landlord from harassing a tenant or where
there has been an illegal eviction and no new tenant is in residence, to
order the landlord to allow the tenant to move back into the property. A
tenant needs to instruct a solicitor to apply for an injunction; this can
usually be done fairly quickly. If an injunction is obtained a landlord must
comply with it or s/he will be in contempt of court and may be sent to
- Compensation - the tenant may also claim damages for
any financial loss suffered as a result of the landlordís actions, for
example to cover the expenses of alternative accommodation or meals. The
tenant may also claim damages for general inconvenience and loss of
Private Tenant Rent Debt & Harassment
All private tenants in debt are protected from acts of harassment and
unlawful eviction by both criminal and civil law.
What is harassment?
Harassment is defined as acts which are intended to interfere with the
peace and comfort of a tenant or the persistent withdrawal or withholding of
Examples of acts of harassment include:
- removing or restricting services such as hot water or electricity or
failure by the landlord to pay bills due, resulting in services being cut
- entering the property without the tenantís permission or when the tenant
is not there.
- repeated visits from the landlord without warning;
- offering the tenant money to leave the property;
- threatening behaviour towards the tenant;
- forcing a tenant to sign agreements which reduce their rights;
- starting building works and leaving them unfinished or sending in
builders without notice at unsocial hours.
If the motive for any of the above acts is to force the tenant to leave or
to prevent him/her from exercising their legal rights, the person carrying out
the acts is guilty of a criminal offence. While the harasser may often be
either the landlord or someone associated with him/her or both, anyone
can be guilty of this offence if they have the required motive.