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Advice for private rented tenants

Advice for private rented tenants

If your landlord is threatening to evict you without a court order or is harassing you with the intention of making you leave your home please contact us. 

Section 21 notice

If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), (this is the standard for private rental properties), then your landlord can end your tenancy without providing a reason by serving you with a Section 21 notice. However, if you have not been given the correct information at the start of the tenancy, or if your landlord is not following the correct procedure to end the tenancy, then there may be a delay before you need to move. This will provide you with more time to find a suitable arrangement for moving home.

 

Can this notice be served at any time?

  • This notice can be served any time after 4 months following the tenancy start date, any notice served before this time will be invalid. If your property is a replacement tenancy, i.e. a new tenancy with the same parties and the same property, then this means 4 months from the original tenancy.

What do these notices look like?

  • This notice must be served in writing, and will provide you at least two months to leave the property. Your contract may mean that you are entitled to a longer notice period then the 2 month standard.
  • All Section 21 notices must be in a specific format, which can be viewed here Form_6A_1_Oct_2021.odt (live.com).

What information should I have received?

In most cases your landlord must provide you with:

  • A gas safety certificate (if you have a gas supply to your home)
  • An energy performance certificate
  • A booklet called ‘how to rent’ (the version which was current at the time your tenancy started or was renewed).

If you come to us for help with a Section 21 notice, providing us with this information will help us to help you.

Have you recently complained about the property condition?

If you have successfuly made a complaint to us about your landlord not fixing an issue in your home, then in some circumstances you cannot be served with a valid notice until 6 months after this date.

How long is a Section 21 valid?

Once a Section 21 notice has been given under a fixed term Assured Shorthold Tenancy or a periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy (that runs from week to week or month to month) possession proceedings must be started within 10 months of the date the notice was given.

If the notice is valid when it's served, your notice will only be valid for 10 months from the date it was issued (if you have a 6 or 12-month fixed term tenancy). The landlord cannot ask the court to give them possession of the property if the valid period has expired, your landlord must issue a fresh notice.

What can I do now?

If you've been served with a notice and you're unable to resolve the problems that has led your landlord to serve you with notice, or you don't believe you will be able to find alternative accommodation by the expiry of your notice, it is important that you seek the help of your local council. Please look here .

Landlord's repair responsibilities

Your landlord must do the repairs the law says they are responsible for, even if your agreement says something different. Your landlord's responsibilities include:

  • the structure and exterior of the building, including the walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows
  • sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • chimneys and ventilation
  • gas appliances
  • electrical wiring

Your landlord is also responsible for repairing the common parts of a building, such as entrance halls, communal stairways and shared kitchens.
Please find further information at Private renting: Repairs - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Tenant's repair responsibilities

You must use your home in a responsible way. You should:

  • keep it clean
  • not damage the property and make sure your guests don't either
  • carry out minor maintenance such as replacing smoke alarm batteries
  • keep chimneys and ventilation free of blockages

You usually are responsible for minor repairs, such as changing a light bulb or replacing a fuse. Your landlord is not responsible for fixing any appliances or furniture you own. They are your responsibility.

You shouldn't have to pay for normal wear and tear to your home, however you will probably have to pay for repairs if you cause damage to the property, even if it's accidental. If you are worried about any of your belongings it is worth seeking indepedent insurance for these items.

My landlord will not do my repairs?

Before you decide what steps to take, make sure you report any repair problems to your landlord or letting agent and give them a reasonable time to do the work. You can tell them about the repair problem in person, by phone or text. You should also email or write to them to confirm the details too. Keep a record of the repairs needed.

If your landlord has failed to do repairs, you can arrange for the repairs to be done and deduct the cost from your rent. You must follow the correct legal procedure. If you do not, you could be evicted and have to repay all the rent owed. Get advice before you decide to do this.

You should only use this procedure for minor repairs. You're responsible for the work that's carried out. If repairs are done badly you'll have to pay to put things right.

If you've given your landlord reasonable time to carry out the repairs and they fail to take action you can make a complaint to our complaints team at DDCComplaints@dover.gov.uk 

My landlord is trying to evict me after asking for repairs

Some landlords may take steps to evict tenants who complain about repairs or poor conditions This is known as a retaliatory , or revenge,  eviction.

You may have some protection against revenge eviction if you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. For more information about revenge eviction on the Shelter's website.

 Contact your local police station immediately if your landlord:

  • comes into the property without permission
  • threatens or harms you or your family
  • attempts to remove your belongings from your home 

If you are a landlord entering into proceedings to evict your tenants then you should obtain independent legal advice.