This section explains the rights you have if you are an assured tenant with a private landlord. It covers the rights you have to live in your home, get repairs done or pass the tenancy to someone else. It also explains how your tenancy can be ended and how your landlord can evict you.
If you are an assured tenant with a Housing Association click here.
Checking your status
You are likely to be an assured tenant if:
- you pay rent to a private landlord and
- you have control over your home so that your landlord and other people cannot come in whenever they want to and
- your landlord does not live in the same building as you (unless it’s a block of flats) and
- you moved in between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997 and your landlord did not give you a notice saying that you have an assured shorthold tenancy.
You can also be an assured tenant if you moved in after 27 February 1997 but this is quite rare. This can only happen if your landlord gave you a written notice saying that you have an assured tenancy before your tenancy started, or if you previously had an assured tenancy iwith the same landlord.
Some types of tenancy cannot be assured tenancies. If you fall into any of the following categories, you should get advice immediately:
- business tenancies
- tenancies where no (or a very low) rent is paid
- tenancies that started on or after 1 April 1990 and where the current rent is more than £25,000 per year
- tenancies of agricultural land or holdings
- college accommodation
- holiday lets.
Should my landlord be registered?
Yes. By the 23rd November 2016 every private landlord of an assured tenancy in Wales should be registered with the Rent Smart Wales scheme. In addition, landlords who self-manage those properties, or agents who have been appointed by the landlord, must have a licence.
You can check if your landlord and/or agent is registered or licensed by searching the public register. If they are not registered and/or licensed they might be committing a criminal offence and could face penalties. See our pages on landlord registration and licensing for more information.
The rights an assured tenancy gives you
An assured tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in your accommodation for a period of time. Your tenancy might be for a set period such as six months (this is known as a fixed term tenancy). Or it might roll on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis (this is known as a periodic tenancy).
The law gives you rights to:
- control your home so that you can stop other people from freely entering
- challenge rent increases
- get certain types of repairs done
- pass your tenancy to someone else in certain circumstances
- live in your accommodation until your landlord gets a court order to evict you.
Each of these rights is explained below:
Your right to live in your accommodation
You have the right to live in your accommodation without being disturbed. You have control over your home so that your landlord and other people cannot freely enter whenever they want to. Your landlord cannot limit or otherwise interfere with your right to live in your home. If your landlord tries to do this it may be harassment, which is against the law.
If you don’t live in your accommodation as your ‘only or principal home’ you might lose your status as an assured tenant. However, it is possible to spend time living elsewhere but still keep your assured tenancy. To do this you must be able to show that you are planning to return (for example by leaving personal possessions there).
Your right to challenge rent increases
You pay the rent that you agreed with your landlord. If you do not pay your rent your landlord can take court action to evict you. If you pay rent weekly your landlord has to provide a rent book.
If you are a fixed term tenant your landlord cannot increase the rent unless you agree to it.
If you are a periodic tenant your landlord can increase the rent if:
- you agree to the increase
- there is a procedure for increasing rent written in your tenancy agreement
- your landlord gives you written notice of the proposed rent increase
- your landlord gives you written notice to change the terms of your tenancy
If your landlord tries to increase the rent when it is not possible to do so and you don’t agree to it, you cannot be evicted as long as you continue to pay the rent you did agree to. But if you start paying the increased rent the law assumes that you have agreed to the increase and you will have to continue paying it.
If your landlord gives you a notice to increase the rent and you don’t agree to the rent increase you may be able to challenge it. It is sometimes possible to get the rent assessment committee to decide the amount of rent you should be charged.
Your right to get repairs done
The law says your landlord has to keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair.
- the roof
- walls (but this doesn’t include internal decoration)
- windows and doors.
Your landlord must also keep the equipment for the supply of gas, electricity, heating, water and sanitation in good repair. Your landlord may have extra responsibilities to repair depending on what your tenancy agreement says.
You are responsible for looking after the property. This might include unblocking a sink or changing a fuse when necessary. You may also have other responsibilities depending on what your tenancy agreement says. Your landlord must have a valid gas safety certificate for any gas appliances in the property. Any furniture provided should be fire resistant.
If your accommodation needs repairs tell your landlord or agent. If the repairs are your landlord’s responsibility and they aren’t done, there may be ways you can force your landlord to carry out the work.
Your rights to pass your tenancy on to someone else
If you pass your tenancy to someone else you will no longer have a legal right to live in your home. You can only pass on your assured tenancy to someone else in specific circumstances.
- if you die (see below)
- if your tenancy agreement says you can pass on your tenancy
- if your landlord agrees to it.
If you attempt to pass your tenancy to someone else under any other circumstances your landlord may be able to end your tenancy.
If an assured tenant dies it may be possible for the tenancy to be passed on to a spouse, civil partner or partner. This is known as succession and is only possible if the tenancy has not previously been passed on this way. It can only take place if the spouse, civil partner or partner was living in the property at the time of the tenant’s death.
Getting other people to live with you
It is normally fine to get other people to live with you as subtenants or lodgers as long as you continue to live in your accommodation as your ‘only or principal home’. If you move out you will no longer have an assured tenancy. If your tenancy ends it is likely that anyone living in the property as a subtenant or lodger will no longer have any rights to live there.
How your tenancy can be ended
Your tenancy will continue until it is ended by you or your landlord.
This can happen by:
- you and your landlord agreeing to end the tenancy (known as surrender)
- you serving a valid notice
- your landlord taking action to evict you (see below).
It is possible for a tenancy to be surrendered at any time. Get your landlord’s agreement in writing if possible to avoid problems later.
If you have a periodic tenancy, you have to give one month’s notice in writing (or longer if you pay your rent less often). The notice should end on the day that your rent is due or the day before. Once the notice ends your tenancy ends and you no longer have any right to live in your home.
If you have a fixed term tenancy you will only be able to give notice during the fixed term if your tenancy agreement says it is allowed. The length of notice you have to give depends on what your tenancy agreement says.
It is also possible to leave on the day your tenancy ends without giving any notice. However, it is advisable to notify the landlord that you intend to do so, as this may help to avoid arguments about the return of your deposit.
Your protection from eviction
The most important question in any tenancy is how difficult it would be for your landlord to evict you. For example, if your landlord is able to evict you very easily it might be harder for you to force your landlord to do repairs or challenge rent increases. Assured tenants have fairly strong rights.
You cannot be evicted before your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to your landlord regaining possession of the property. The court’s permission is on a written notice known as a possession order. Before the court will make a possession order your landlord must have a reason (or ‘ground’) to evict you. Your landlord must have followed the correct legal procedure.
You will be given the chance to provide information to the court to help the judge decide whether or not you should be evicted. You can send information to the court and/or go to a hearing. More information about court procedures can be found here.
Before going to court your landlord has to give you a written notice.
The notice must:
- be in a special form
- say why your landlord wants to evict you
- give the earliest date that court action can start.
How much notice your landlord has to give depends on the reason(s) why you are being evicted. It can vary from 14 days to two months.
Your landlord can start court action to evict you at any time until exactly 12 months after the date of the notice. After that your landlord has to serve a new notice in order to be able to get a court order.
Reasons for eviction
The reasons for eviction that landlords can use are set out by law. They are known as ‘grounds for possession’. They are split into two groups, mandatory grounds and discretionary grounds.
If your landlord proves a mandatory ground for possession the court has no choice but to make a possession order. The court has to be satisfied however that the ground exists and you may be able to prove otherwise. Examples of mandatory grounds include:
- you are more than eight weeks’ (or 2 months if you pay rent monthly) behind with the rent
- your landlord’s mortgage lender is repossessing the property
- you were informed in advance that your landlord used to live in the property
- the property is being redeveloped.
It may be possible to delay the possession order for up to six weeks if it is causing you exceptional hardship.
For more information, see our pages on the eviction of assured tenants.
If your landlord is using a discretionary ground for possession the court can only make a possession order if it is reasonable to do so.
Examples of discretionary grounds include:
- you have some rent arrears
- persistent delays in paying your rent
- you have broken your tenancy agreement
- you have caused nuisance or used the property for illegal activities
- you have allowed the condition of the property to deteriorate.
The court will take your circumstances (such as your health and income) into account when it decides whether it is reasonable for a possession order to be made.
After a court order takes effect your landlord can ask the bailiffs to evict you. For more information see our pages on the eviction of assured tenants.
If your landlord tries to evict you without getting a court order it may be a criminal offence. Your local council should help if you have been illegally evicted or harassed by your landlord. You may also be able to obtain a court order requiring the landlord to allow you back into the property.