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As a tenant, you have the right to:

  • live in a property that's safe and in a good state of repair
  • have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends - and in some circumstances have it protected
  • challenge excessively high charges
  • know who your landlord is
  • live in the property undisturbed
  • see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
  • have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years
  • If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

If you don't know who your landlord is, write to the person or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can be fined If they don't give you this information within 21 days.

When you start a new assured or short assured tenancy, your landlord must give you:

  1. a copy of the how to rent guide if you live in England
  2. a tenant information pack if you live in Scotland

You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours' notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it's an emergency and they need immediate access.

You must also:

  • take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you're away in cold weather
  • pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you're in dispute with your landlord
  • pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example Council Tax or utility bills
  • repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
  • only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it

Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you don't meet your responsibilities. Always seek independent professional legal advice on your individual case or contact your local tenants union for support.

Your landlord can't just turn up uninvited. Your landlord can only come into your home for inspections or repairs. They must give you 24 hours' notice before they come over to check the place or do any repairs - unless it's an emergency. But access must be "reasonable", so unless it's an emergency they cannot have immediate access. They can't stop your friends visiting, either.

Your landlord can't harass you or let any other tenants harass you. And they can't discriminate against you because of your race, religion, sexuality, gender, disability, or anything else.

  • They cannot offer you money to vacate the premises
  • They cannot use violence or threaten to use violence
  • They're also not allowed to harass you to make you leave by, for example, changing the locks, shouting abuse, playing loud music, cutting off your gas/electricity/water supply, opening your post or removing your belongings

Landlords are responsible for the safety, repairs and maintenance of the exterior and the structure of the property as well as the plumbing, wiring and central heating.

It's your right as a tenant to live in a safe house with hot and cold water, heating, electricity, ventilation, toilet facilities and a drainage system. It's your landlord's job to provide these things and do repairs so that it's safe to live in. However, landlords are only responsible for problems they know about, so ask them to do the repairs first. If they don't do them, then you can consider taking action.

Your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home. This applies to private, council and housing association landlords.

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.

Your landlord must put right any damage to internal decorations caused by repair problems they are responsible for or while repairs were carried out. However, you should always check what your tenancy agreement says.

Your tenancy agreement could say if your landlord is responsible for repairing or replacing faulty items or appliances they provided such as a fridge or washing machine. Your landlord must do the repairs the law says they are responsible for, even if your agreement says something different.

Your tenancy agreement may say when or how often certain types of repairs will be done. It may say that you have some responsibilities, for example keeping the garden tidy or sharing the cleaning of communal stairways and halls.

Always seek independent professional legal advice on your individual case or contact your local tenants union for support.

Not having an HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) license is an example of something that can help you win against your landlord. You can claim as much as 12 months in rent back from your landlord if they don't have the correct license. Licensing is important because it means Councils can check the safety and habitability of an HMO before it is rented out - licensing is important to stop tragedies like the Shadwell fire in London in 2023.

What is an HMO license?

A House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) is any property with:

  • 5 or more people,
  • from multiple households (i.e. not family),
  • who share basic amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry.

Landlords across the UK, with some rare exceptions, are required to hold a license for this type of property. The specific number of residents to make it an HMO may differ depending on your council - so make sure to check your local council website for a guide on this.

Where can I find out if the property I rent is licensed?

This information is posted by your local council, such as on this website for Manchester City Council - or on this publicly accessible database for Trafford. Search “[Your council] HMO register” and it should appear.

If you're unsure which specific council in Manchester your tenancy falls under - you can enter your postcode into this website to find out.

As some Councils do not update their websites regularly, you should also email your local Council's licensing department to be absolutely sure about whether your landlord has a license.

The property I stay in is not on this list but it IS an HMO, what now?

Congratulations! If your landlord doesn't have a license when they should, you could potentially be able to apply for your rent back from the time you stayed at the property while there was no HMO license, up to a maximum of 12 months.

This is done via a process called a 'Rent Repayment Order', which is an order that can be made by the Property Tribunal against landlords operating without an HMO license. The Tribunal is not as formal as a court, and you can make the application yourself, or with help from a representative - it doesn't have to be a lawyer.

If your landlord doesn't have a license when they should, you are in a strong position. Depending on the severity of the breach, your landlord could be liable to refund your rent, as well as large civil fines, and problems obtaining future licenses. Furthermore - Section 21 notices would be invalid until your landlord has applied for a license.

This means, if lucky, you may not even have to take it to court via a rent repayment order - you might be able to negotiate with your landlord for repayment of your rent without doing it formally.

If you are considering applying for a Rent Repayment Order, join GMTU and contact us to discuss how to approach your situation - we may be able to help.

Selective licensing

Important note: in some areas of Greater Manchester (and elsewhere in England), landlords are required to have an additional 'selective license' in any privately rented house within set areas. Where an HMO falls inside a selective licensing area, landlords are only required to have ONE of these licenses.

Speak to GMTU if you would like to work out whether your landlord needs an HMO license.

What if my rent is paid by housing benefit/Universal Credit?

If you're on housing benefits and you live in an unlicensed HMO, you could still notify your local council of your landlord's failure to get an HMO license, and the council may fine them or take further action. However, if you applied for a Rent Repayment Order, you could not recover any rent you'd not actually paid yourself - so you may just wish to save it so it's a defence for any attempt to evict you using Section 21.

Helpful Sites:

Shelter's advice on Rent Repayment Orders

Shelter's advice on HMOs

Manchester City Council guidance on HMOs

Housing Act of 2004 - covering definitions of HMOs

Housing Act of 2016 - covering Rent Repayment Orders