You may feel powerless as a tenant, especially when you’re undergoing hard financial times and fall behind on your rent. Fortunately, you need not fight with a landlord alone as you can hire a solicitor to help you with any dispute that you may have. Along with rent arrears, they can help you with disputes over the condition of the property, unlawful evictions, and harassment from your landlord.
Under the law, tenants have rights that landlords cannot violate. These include matters regarding rent, repairs, antisocial behaviour, and evictions.
Landlords can set rent as they see fit when letting a property but they usually cannot increase the rent when the property is occupied unless the tenant agrees to it. If the tenant lives there on a periodic agreement, which is a week-to-week or month-to-month basis, the rent cannot be increased more than once a year without the tenant’s agreement. If the tenancy is fixed-term, which is for a certain amount of time such as six months or a year, the rent can be increased after the term ends even if the tenant doesn’t agree to an increase.
If the landlord is seeking an increase, he or she must get your permission to increase it or needs to wait until the term of your agreement has ended. Then, whether he or she gets your permission to increase the rent or increases it after the agreement has ended, the increase must be realistic and within the market value of other properties in the area. If he or she tries to increase the rent without your permission, then seek the help of property lawyers in London, especially if you’re being threatened with eviction.
Although landlords can seek to evict you if you’re behind on rent payments, there are procedures for doing so. To evict a tenant, the landlord must first present him or her with a written notice to quit if he or she has a fixed-term tenancy. This notice can be from two weeks to two months, depending on why the landlord is trying to evict you.
If you refuse to move after being given a notice, the landlord cannot forcibly remove you; he or she must act through the courts. He or she cannot change the locks, cut off utilities such as electricity or water, take your possessions, or threaten you verbally or physically. If a landlord commits any of these acts, you have a right to report him or her to your local council.
Along with being behind on rent, you can be evicted if there is a break clause in the rental agreement that gives the landlord the rent to take back the property if your lease is fixed-term or for antisocial behaviour. Antisocial behaviour can include:
- Harassment of others
- Homophobic behaviour
- Threatening neighbours or being violent toward them
- Dumping garbage
- Abusive behaviour towards others such as disabled or elderly people
- Damaging property
- Being too noisy
There may be some cases of antisocial behaviour that can get you removed from a property immediately but usually the process for evicting tenants must be followed.