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What rights do private tenants have?

If you are a tenant within the UK in a private rented property you have a number of rights to protect you and your home.

Housing is devolved and each country within the UK have their own set of rules when it comes to renting, but there are certain key rights that you should be aware of:

A safe property

Regardless of where you are renting as a tenant you have the right to live in a property that is in a good condition and safe.

Our guide on landlord’s health and safety responsibilities outlines exactly how your landlord is required to keep your home safe.


You have the right to live in the property undisturbed and what is dubbed as ‘quiet enjoyment’.

This means that you have the right to use the property without unreasonable or unnecessary interference from the landlord or their agent.

Energy performance

All tenants have the right to know the energy performance of the property via an Energy Performance Certificate.

Protected tenancy deposits

These must be protected in a government approved scheme, but there are different schemes and rules depending on where you rent.

England and Wales England Flag

If you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007, your landlord must put your deposit in a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. In England and Wales your deposit can be registered with:

  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme
  • Deposit Protection Service
  • MyDeposits

Scotland Scotland Flag

In Scotland, if you pay a tenancy deposit, it must be registered with:

  • Letting Protection Service Scotland
  • Safe Deposits Scotland
  • my|deposits Scotland

Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland if you paid a deposit on or after 1 April 2013, your landlord must protect your money with:

  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland
  • My Deposits Northern Ireland
  • Letting Protection Service NI

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For more detailed information about tenancy deposit schemes, take a look at our in depth guide.

Challenge high rent increases

Anywhere in the UK you have the right to challenge rent increases that you feel are unfair, however, the process is slightly different depending on where you live.

England and Wales England Flag

  • Your landlord must get your permission before they increase the rent.
  • The rent increase must be fair, for example to a similar level with average local rents.
  • They must give you a minimum of one month’s notice if you are on a rolling tenancy or six months’ notice if you have a fixed-term annual tenancy.

If you feel the rent increase is unfair you can challenge it.

  • First speak to your landlord and try to come to an agreement.
  • If you can’t come to an agreement, you can ask a tribunal to decide for you.

Citizens Advice have further information on challenging your rent increase in England and Wales and details how you can apply to a tribunal.

Scotland Scotland Flag

There is a strict legal process that governs when landlords can increase your rent:
  • Rent can only be increased once a year.
  • Your landlord has to supply you with a Rent Increase Notice form which includes a three-month period before the increase takes place.

If you feel the rent increase is unfair you can challenge it.

  • You must apply to Rent Service Scotland within 21 days of receiving the notice.
  • A rent officer will look at your case and make a decision within 40 days.

Citizens Advice Scotland outlines challenging a rent increase in greater detail.

Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

  • Any rent increases must be fair.
  • Your landlord must get your permission before increasing the rent.
  • If you are within a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord must give you at least 28 days written notice.
  • If you are on a periodic tenancy (week by week, month by month) your rent can be increased at the end of your rental period.
  • You have the right to cancel your agreement without penalty if you cannot agree to the rent increase.

Protection from unfair eviction

There are different protections against unfair eviction depending on where you live in the UK.

England and Wales England Flag

  • Your landlord must give you at least two months’ written notice, also known as a ‘notice to quit’.
  • You must be outside of your fixed term in your tenancy agreement or;
  • Your landlord has grounds for eviction or they want to move back into the property.
  • It is a crime for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without a court order.
  • You can talk to your local council if you feel you are being evicted unfairly.

Scotland Scotland Flag

In Scotland, if you have a private residential tenancy:

  • Your landlord can only evict you for a specific reason. These are outlined here.
  • Your landlord must give you written notice before you can be evicted. How long this notice period is depends on the reason behind your eviction. In some cases the notice period could be up to 6 months. There is more information on the MyGov.scot website.
  • If a landlord ends a tenancy but the tenant refuses to move out, the landlord can only recover possession through court proceedings.
  • If you think you are being evicted unfairly, you will have the opportunity to defend your eviction through a tribunal. Citizens Advice Scotland has further support on this.

Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

  • Your landlord must give you 28 days written notice with their ‘notice to quit’.
  • It is a crime for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without using a court order.
  • More information on evictions on the NI Direct website.


Evictions during Coronavirus

Across the UK, each nation has produced updated guidance on evictions during the coronavirus outbreak.

In all cases this includes an extension of the notice period for evictions.


  • The notice period has been increased to six months.

Scotland AND WALES 

  • In most cases landlords must now give tenants six months’ notice.
  • In Scotland, a new law has made all grounds for eviction discretionary – allowing any tribunals to consider the impact of coronavirus before issuing an eviction order or not.

Northern Ireland 

  • Your landlord must now give you 12 weeks advance notice in writing before the date you have to leave.
  • Your landlord or letting agent cannot force you to leave your rented home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Updated 4 September 2020

Written tenancy agreement 

Only in Scotland is it a legal requirement for tenants to receive a written tenancy agreement. This is called the Private Residential Tenancy agreement (PRT).

In England & Wales, there is no legal requirement to use a tenancy agreement, however, Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements (AST) are most commonly used.

In Northern Ireland, there is also no legal requirement to use a tenancy agreement.

Landlord registration

For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all landlords have to register onto a national database in order to comply with the law.

Scotland Scotland Flag

All Landlords are required to register with the local council that covers the area where the property is located as part of the Scottish Landlord Register. They are required provide information about themselves, the agent managing the property (if applicable) and the property.

Search the register

Wales Wales

In Wales, the Landlord Registration requirements are handled by the team are Rent Smart Wales. There is also an additional legal requirement for landlord’s who self-manage their properties to become licensed, this involves completing a training course.

Search the register

Northern Ireland Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Landlord Registration Scheme requires all private landlords in Northern Ireland to register and provide accurate and up-to-date information about themselves and their properties.

Search the register

England England

In England, there is no mandatory requirement for landlord registration or any licensing or training requirements.

Use an ARLA Propertymark agent

If you are looking for your first rental property, or you are in the process of finding a new one, you can alleviate a lot of the worry by choosing an ARLA Propertymark agent.

ARLA Propertymark Protected agents are qualified professionals; they are up to date with and comply with the latest laws and legislation. This means you avoid rogue landlords or agents who may not be aware of their legal requirements, rent out properties that are unsuitable to live in or purposely don’t follow the law.

By renting through a letting agent, you’ll be more protected should anything go wrong with your tenancy. There are ways for you to complain about your letting agent and even receive compensation.




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Useful links

England: gov.uk

Scotland: gov.scot

Wales: rentsmart.gov.wales

Northern Ireland: nidirect.gov.uk