NetMovers feature: A tenant’s responsibilities in England

You found a suitable property, passed the credit reference checks and your landlord has invited you to sign the tenancy agreement.

There are a few reasonable standards your landlord has the right to expect from you. They may be mentioned in the tenancy agreement, you are asked to sign – but even if they are not, your landlord can still apply for an eviction order if he considers you to be in breach of them, even if you have a fixed tenancy agreement.

  • Do not sub let or leave your home vacant for long periods without written permission from your landlord.
  • Make sure you keep up to date with your rent, by standing order for regular payments agreed with your landlord. If you can’t set up a direct debit, write on your calendar when the payment is due.
  • Pay your utility bills and council tax on time, using direct debits for convenience.
  • Keep your home (and garden if applicable) clean and well maintained, replace or fix minor damage (like ripped wallpaper) or report larger ones.
  • If your tenancy is a no smoking one, do not smoke in the property.
  • Be good neighbours by not being noisy or untidy: anti social behaviour becomes a matter for the police and local council as well as for a landlord.
  • Make sure you ask permission for things like decorating, keeping a caravan on the driveway or taking in a pet, if these are not specified in the tenancy agreement.
  • If you want to end the tenancy before the agreement expires, do so in writing and give the proper notice. Ask your landlord to accept the notice in writing, too.
  • Under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1988 it is understood that the tenant will let the landlord have access to the property to carry out repairs, though he must usually give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice.

There is a variation of legal standpoint between tenancies in England, Scotland and Wales, for long and short term tenancies, and for council tenants. If you need more specific information about your responsibilities as a tenant, contact Shelter, your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau or see the Communities and Local Government website.

In addition, there are a set of responsibilities that your landlord had towards you as a tenant and he is legally bound to meet these. NetMovers’ next post will go through these.

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