Tenant Obligations & Rights


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Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you’ll know that renting a property comes with both rights and obligations on both sides.

But when disputes arise while a property is rented, it can be hard to know exactly what you can and must do – and what the other party can and must do as well.

Osbourne Pinner Solicitors are here to make the ambiguous clear. We have a 100% success rate in representing both landlords and tenants, and can support you through difficult times regarding a rented property. With us on your side, you’ll get the information and advice you need so that you can see a resolution fast.

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Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities

In the UK, a tenant in a privately rented property has both rights and obligations. Some of these rights are absolute, while others depend upon what was set out and agreed to in the rental agreement.

A tenant’s rights and responsibilities are different in different types of tenancies. Most current private renters have an assured shorthold tenancy, or AST. On this page, we’ll focus on ASTs as they are most common.

However, if you live in your landlord’s home and have shared use of rooms such as the kitchen, you may have an excluded tenancy or license. This type of tenancy offers less protection from eviction as you are sharing your landlord’s home.

Some older types of tenancies are assured tenancies and regulated tenancies. Both of these types of tenancies offer increased protection from eviction. These typically are tenancies that started before March 1997.

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Tenants’ Rights


A tenant has the right to certain information provided by their landlord.

Firstly, if the tenant has a tenancy agreement, they have the right to an agreement that is fair and legal.

When a tenant begins a tenancy of the assured or assured shorthold types, they have the right to receive the How to Rent Guide (if renting in England) or a tenant information pack (if renting in Scotland).

A tenant also has the right to know who their landlord is. If this information wasn’t provided to the tenant, the tenant has the right to contact the person or company to whom they pay rent. After this person or company has received a request for landlord information in writing, the landlord must provide the information within 21 days or be fined.

Furthermore, a tenant has the right to receive an Energy Performance Certificate for their rented property. This certificate provides information about the property’s energy efficiency, including costs and aspects where energy could be better conserved.

Landlords should order an energy performance certificate before the property is put on the rental market.


A tenant has several rights relating to their rental deposit. All tenants have the right to have their deposit returned at the end of their tenancy unless the landlord retains part of the deposit for damages. In addition, a tenant has the right to be protected from unfair rent and the right to challenge unfair charges.

For tenants renting through AST tenancy agreements signed after 2007, there are additional deposit protections. The landlord renting through an AST must put the deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it. This scheme protects the tenant’s right to receive their deposit after the tenancy ends as long as the tenant has paid rent and bills appropriately, has not damaged the property and otherwise acted in accordance with the terms of the tenancy agreement.

After the landlord determines how much of the deposit will be returned, the tenant has the right to receive that amount within 10 days’ time. If the tenant and landlord do not agree, the deposit cannot be removed from the tenancy deposit scheme until the disagreement is resolved.

Tenants’ rights around rent vary according to tenancy type and the contents of their rental agreement, but a landlord who wishes to increase rent must always do so in accordance with the law and the rental agreement. A regulated tenancy also provides the tenant with additional rights in relation to rent.

Safety and protection

There are rules in place to ensure a tenant’s ability to live ‘with quiet enjoyment’ in their property.

Importantly, a tenant has the right to live in a home that’s safe and fit for living in. A landlord’s obligations with regards to safety include steps relating to gas, electricity and fire safety.

Also, a tenant has the right to live in their rental property without being bothered inappropriately by the landlord. Unless there is an emergency, the tenant has the right to at least 24 hours’ notice of the landlord’s access to the property, which might be for repair or inspection reasons. The tenant also has the right to agree on a time for access that is reasonable, such as not in the middle of the night. The tenant has the right to stay in the property during repairs.

Lastly, a tenant has protections against unfair eviction. Eviction rules vary according to tenancy type, but the tenant always has the right to an eviction that’s conducted legally and in accordance with what’s set out in the tenancy agreement.

Tenants’ Obligations

Just as a tenancy comes with rights, it also comes with responsibilities.


A tenant has the responsibility to pay rent. They are also obligated to pay bills as set out in the rental agreement.

A landlord’s actions do not remove a tenant’s obligation to pay rent. For example, if a landlord has not completed repairs, a tenant cannot withhold rent until the repairs are done.

A tenant is responsible for any damages done by them or people connected with them. This can mean doing the repair themself or paying for the repair. Tenants should ensure any repairs are done in accordance with the tenancy agreement.

Some tenancy agreements prohibit a tenant from doing their own repairs. If a tenant’s actions damage neighbouring properties such as an adjacent flat, the tenant is also responsible for these repairs.

Care and upkeep

A tenant is generally obligated to care for the property in a responsible fashion. For example, a tenant should not leave a window open in a rainstorm to allow the carpet and wall to be soaked. A tenant is also responsible for minor repairs such as changing lightbulbs. If there are repairs or problems in the property, a tenant is responsible for reporting these to the landlord immediately.

Paint & Ladder in Home


A tenant is obligated to allow the landlord to enter the property, although the landlord must give 24 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency. However, the landlord can’t harass the tenant, and harassment could include excessively visiting the property.

Tenancy agreements might or might not require the tenant to allow access to the landlord for improvements, i.e., alterations to increase the property’s attractiveness.

What Osbourne Pinner Can Do for You

Advice and Information

If you and your landlord or tenant are in disagreement over your rights and obligations, get in touch with us. We have clear answers about what each party involved in a rental agreement must do, and we can advise you as to what steps you should take next.

Mediation Between Tenants and Landlords

Problems with renting don’t always have to lead to eviction or court cases. A first step is mediation. If you’d like to try this, we can help you communicate your concerns to your landlord or tenant to try to reach a resolution without escalating to legal recourse.

Court Representation and Correspondence

If your dispute with your tenant or landlord does go to court, we can provide expert representation for you to ensure the best possible resolution. Additionally, we can take care of court correspondence so that you don’t have to get embroiled in paperwork. The end result: your case can proceed speedily and with as little stress as possible.

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Relationships between tenants and landlords can be difficult to navigate. If you’d like advice and guidance about what you should do regarding a dispute around tenants’ rights and responsibilities, we can help. Osbourne Pinner’s thirty-minute initial consultation is free of charge and can be done in person or through a video call. To set up your consultation, call our offices on 0203 983 5080 or use our online enquiry form.


We do not offer Legal Aid.

Please let us know what's on your mind. Have a question for us? Ask away.

FAQs about Tenants’ Rights and Obligations

There are no changes to tenants’ rights in England in 2023. However, there is a proposed piece of legislation called the Renters (Reform) Bill that contains considerable changes to the laws around private rentals. This bill is not yet law.

If you have a fixed-term tenancy of over 3 years, you have the right to a written rental agreement. Otherwise, generally the length of a tenancy doesn’t have an effect on a tenant’s rights.

However, if your tenancy began several decades ago, you might have an unusual type of tenancy that gives you slightly different legal rights. If your tenancy began earlier than 15 January 1989, you may have a regulated tenancy. This type of tenancy provides more rights for the tenant. Another type of tenancy, an assured tenancy, also may have different rights. These are rare and typically began before 1997.

Broadly speaking, tenants are responsible for minor repairs and upkeep and for fixing damage they have caused. Tenants are also responsible for using the property in a “tenant-like” or appropriate manner that doesn’t cause damage and for reporting problems quickly before further damage can occur.

Landlords are responsible for major repairs, such as those to the walls, roof, and plumbing. You should check your tenancy agreement for more details about your responsibilities for repairs.

Tenants do not have the right to withhold rent even if they feel their landlord has not done repairs that are needed. A tenant who does so is at risk of being evicted for non-payment of rent.

However, a tenant can follow a legal procedure that allows them to use their rent payment to pay for repairs. This procedure must be done correctly in order to decrease a tenant’s chance of being evicted for failure to pay rent, and a tenant might still find themself at greater risk of eviction.

If a tenant intends to follow this procedure and is withholding rent for repairs, it may be best to seek legal advice – whether that’s for the tenant or landlord. Osbourne Pinner’s 30-minute free initial consultation might be a good starting point.

The Tenant Fees Act of 2019 banned letting fees and ensured that there can be no hidden costs in renting. Tenants have the right not to have to pay fees except those specifically set out in the law.

A tenant who has been renting their property since before 1989 might have more rights against eviction through an assured or regulated tenancy. However, this is a rare case as most tenancies currently are not of this type.

In all cases, a tenant has the right to be evicted through the proper legal processes. The laws around eviction are somewhat complex, but to learn more, take a look at our page on Section 8 and Section 21 notices.

A tenant’s ability to sublet depends on their type of tenancy and their rental agreement. Sometimes, a landlord’s permission is required, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes a tenant may only sublet part of their home and not the whole.