Skip to main content

Advice and protection for private tenants

If you are a private tenant renting from a private landlord, you can call upon us for a wide range of advice and support.  The information below outlines our key advice and protection we can offer you.

From 1 October 2021, all notice periods will return to the pre-pandemic position. This means the minimum period of notice which must be given under section 21 is two months and, where a section 8 notice is relied upon, the minimum notice period will depend on the ground(s) on which possession is sought. See the updated Guidance for landlords and tenants for more information. 

Landlords must use one of the prescribed forms to serve the notice (form 6A for a section 21 notice or form 3 for a section 8 notice).

The stay on possession proceedings expired on 20 September 2020 and landlords can now progress their possession claims through the courts.  

If you are struggling to pay your rent and other bills due to a drop in your income, you may be able to obtain financial support.

See Coronavirus COVID-19 Reducing the Risk of Infection (gov.uk) for guidance on reducing the risk of infection in shared accommodation.

The law protects people living in residential property against harassment and illegal eviction. Harassment and illegal eviction is a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.  

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it an offence to:

  • do acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with him/her; or
  • persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home.

We can prosecute people who commit offences under the Act. Environmental Health Officers investigate complaints and mediate between the parties wherever possible. We will consider bringing a prosecution if there is sufficient evidence of an offence being committed and where it is in the public interest to prosecute.

Contact us

Contact the Private Housing Sector team if you need help:

Tel: 01483 523372

Email: privatesectorhousing@waverley.gov.uk

The Housing Act 2004 gives protection to tenants who have paid a cash deposit to landlords.  This ensures that landlords are not able to withhold a deposit inappropriately at the end of a tenancy and includes measures to improve the resolution of disputes.  

Landlords can only take a deposit from a tenant if that deposit is protected by one of the following three schemes:  

What landlords need to do

Landlords have to choose one of the schemes if they are taking a deposit from a tenant and must provide the tenant with certain information within 30 days of taking the deposit.

See Tenancy deposit protection on gov.uk.

If landlords fail to do this they may have difficulties if they wish to end the tenancy at a later date as they would not be allowed to serve a Section 21 notice to end the tenancy. They would therefore not have an automatic right of possession if the tenant does not leave and they have to seek an eviction order from the court. The only way a landlord could seek possession of a property through the court would be to prove that one of the grounds for possession in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 exists - eg non-payment of rent.   

There are also other penalties that will be incurred by landlords who do not comply with the new legislation.  Any tenant (or person who paid the deposit on their behalf) who thinks that the landlord has not complied with the new rules, can make an application to the County Court.  If the court is satisfied that the landlord has not complied, it can order that the deposit is lodged with an appropriate scheme.  It can also order that the landlord pays the tenant a compensation payment of between 1 to 3 times the value of the deposit.  A landlord who doesn't protect the deposit at all can also be fined by the court.

We have the power to make arrangements to secure the restoration or continuance of gas, water or electricity supplies for the benefit of residents (usually tenants) where the supplies have been, or are likely to be, cut off because of failure by the owner of the property to pay for the services.

We will consider making such arrangements only as a last resort for emergency cases. In every case we will co-operate closely with the suppliers and wherever possible enlist the suppliers' support and assistance. Where the council makes a payment to restore the supply or secure its continuance, we are entitled to recover the payment with interest from the owner of the premises.

Contact us

If you need help, contact us:

Tel: 01483 523372

Email: privatesectorhousing@waverley.gov.uk

Your landlord must, by law, provide you with a valid Gas Safety Certificate before you move in. 

Annual checks

They must also arrange for an annual check of all appliances in the house, to be conducted by a registered gas engineer who is registered with the Gas Safe Register.

You can check their registration on the Gas Safe website. 

More information

For more information on gas safety or to report a property with no gas safety certificate, visit the HSE website

Any repairs should be carried out before you move in. If these are delayed without explanation after you have moved in you should contact the Private Sector Housing Team.

Contact us

Tel: 01483 523372

Email: privatesectorhousing@waverley.gov.uk

From 1 October 2015 landlords are required to:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every floor of their property
  • Test the alarm(s) at the start of every tenancy
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in any rooms containing solid fuel burning appliances.

Failure to complete these requirements may result in a fine of up to £5,000.

If you rent a whole house or flat, your landlord must show you an Energy Performance Certificate before you move in.

With all properties now rated from A to G, finding a more energy efficient property could help save you money on your fuel bills. 

Tenants have the right to request consent to carry out energy efficiency measures and these must not be unreasonably refused by the landlord.

It is unlawful for a landlord to rent out a residential property with an EPC rating of F or G (the lowest 2 grades) unless the property has been registered on the PRS Exemptions Register

More information

See the EPC Register website.

If the property has five or more people who are not related, the landlord must obtain a licence from the local council. If the landlord fails to get a licence he can be taken to court and, on conviction, fined up to £20,000.

Following conviction, tenants can apply for a Rent Repayment Order from the Residential Property Tribunal Service to reimburse them for some of the rent, if they apply within a fixed time.

More information

See House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing

When a landlord fails to carry out repairs or where the home is cold and damp or is overcrowded, or contains any other housing hazards, the council can require him to do the necessary works and if he still doesn't do them, we can do the works at the landlords' expense and/or prosecute him.

Properties should be free from gas, electrical and fire hazards and you should be able to move around your home safely. Staircases should be well lit, have a firm handrail and should not have gaps that small children can slip through. Floors should be level to avoid trips or falls and high level windows should have restrictors if they can be easily accessed by children. There should be enough bolts and locks on doors and windows for security. The kitchen should have sufficient storage, preparation and cooking space and there should be a constant supply of hot and cold water and adequate toilet and washing facilities.

More information

For further information on housing standards and how to make a complaint, see our section on Problems with disrepair.

Recent laws have introduced better protection to tenants and most people find good landlords. A few will have bad experiences and need expert advice.

If you need help, further information is available from housing and homelessness organisations such as:

For a checklist of your rights and responsibilities please read the How to Rent guide on gov.uk.

Contact us

For further information on the above or any other issues you may have with your private tenancy, please use the contact details below - we may be able to offer some advice and assistance.

Tel: 01483 523372

Email: privatesectorhousing@waverley.gov.uk