Landlord and tenant acts are legislation that regulate the various aspects of renting property, such as disclosure of landlord’s identity, provision of rent books, fitness for human habitation, repairing obligations, service charges, security of tenure, renewal of tenancies, covenants, and more.
In this article, we'll give you a brief overview of the main acts that apply in the UK and Wales, such as:
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1987
The Landlord and Tenant Covenants Act 1995
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
You'll learn how these acts affect landlords and tenants in practice and some tips and advice on how to comply with them and protect your rights and interests. Whether you are looking for a new property to rent or lease, or you already have an existing tenancy agreement, keep reading!
For Residential Properties
If you rent or let a property for residential purposes, such as a flat, house, or room, you are covered by several acts, depending on your situation. These acts include:
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which sets the minimum standards for repairs, fitness for human habitation, service charges, and information disclosure. It also gives you rights to request and challenge service charges, join a tenants’ association, and get your landlord’s name and address. Some of the standards that your landlord has to meet are:
Keeping the property in good condition and fit for human habitation; this includes maintaining the structure and exterior, the installations for water, gas, electricity, heating, and sanitation, and ensuring it is free from serious hazards.
They can only charge reasonable service charges for services, repairs, maintenance, or improvements that benefit you as a tenant, such as cleaning common areas or installing security systems
They have to provide you with their name and address within 21 days of receiving a written request from you
Consulting with you before carrying out any major works or entering into any long-term agreements that affect the service charges
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which applies if there is another landlord between you and the freeholder. For example, this could be where a freeholder leases a block of flats to a company, which then sublets individual flats to tenants. In this case, the company is the intermediate landlord. This act gives you rights to:
Receive notice of any assignment or transfer of the landlord’s interest in the property within two months of it happening
Receive notice of any possible right to acquire the landlord’s interest in the property within two months of it becoming available
Be offered first refusal to buy the freehold or an extended lease if the landlord intends to sell it within six months of receiving an offer from someone else
Apply to appoint a manager or acquire the freehold if the landlord is in breach of their obligations, such as not maintaining the property or charging excessive service charges
The Landlord and Tenant Covenants Act 1995 makes sure that any covenants (promises) in your lease are binding on both parties, even if they change hands. It also limits your liability for breaches of covenants by previous tenants or landlords. It applies if your lease was granted after 1996. Some of the effects of this act are:
You are responsible for complying with the covenants in your lease, such as paying rent or keeping the property in good condition, regardless of who your landlord or tenant is
You are not liable for any breaches of covenants by previous tenants or landlords, unless you have agreed to take on their liability
You can ask your landlord or tenant to release you from your covenants if you want to assign or transfer your lease to someone else, and they cannot unreasonably refuse
You can ask the court to vary or cancel any covenants that are obsolete, invalid, or unreasonable
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 ensures that your property is fit for human habitation at all times, and gives you the right to sue your landlord if it is not. Applies to new or renewed tenancies from 2019 onwards. It Some of the factors that determine whether a property is fit for human habitation are:
The presence or absence of serious hazards, such as damp, mould, pests, asbestos, carbon monoxide, or fire risks
The adequacy of natural and artificial lighting, ventilation, water supply, drainage, and sanitation
The suitability of the layout, design, and construction of the property for its intended use
The availability and functionality of facilities for cooking, food storage, waste disposal, personal hygiene, and laundry
The Tenant Fees Act 2019, which bans most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants. It also sets out what fees are allowed, how deposits are protected, and what penalties apply for breaking the rules. Some of the main features of this act are:
You cannot be charged any fees for viewing a property, signing a contract, renewing a tenancy, or checking out
You can only be charged fees for specific services that you request or cause, such as changing or ending your tenancy early, losing your keys, or paying your rent late
The fees that you can be charged must be reasonable and reflect the actual cost of providing the service
Your tenancy deposit cannot be more than five weeks’ rent (or six weeks’ rent if your annual rent is more than £50,000)
Your holding deposit (the money you pay to reserve a property) cannot be more than one week’s rent and must be refunded to you within seven days unless you agree otherwise
Your deposits must be protected by a government-approved scheme and returned to you within 10 days of agreeing how much you will get back
For Business Properties
If you rent or let a property for business purposes, such as a shop, office, or warehouse, you are covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This act gives you security of tenure, which means you can renew your lease when it ends, unless your landlord has a good reason to evict you. Some of the reasons that your landlord can use to evict you are:
You have breached the terms of your lease, such as not paying rent or causing damage
Your landlord wants to use the property for their own business or occupation, such as moving in themselves or selling their goods
Your landlord wants to demolish or redevelop the property, such as building a new structure or changing its use
You also have to follow a certain procedure to renew or end your lease, which involves giving notices, negotiating terms, and going to court if needed. You have to give at least six months’ notice before the end of your lease if you want to renew it, and your landlord has to give at least 12 months’ notice if they want to end it. You can then agree on the new terms of your lease, such as rent, duration, and repairs. If you cannot agree, you can apply to the court to decide for you.
It can get a bit complicated but, don’t panic!
There are many laws that regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants in the UK. Whether you are renting or letting a property, you should make sure you understand and comply with these laws to avoid any problems or disputes. If you need any help or advice on any aspect of landlord and tenant law, you can contact Lawhive. We'll match you with an expert landlord & tenant solicitor who specialises in the area you need help with.