It’s easy to forget that lease agreements not only protect landlords and their properties but the tenants living in the rental too. It’s essential to know that those written lease agreements are legally binding. They protect not only the rights of landlords but also those of tenants.
Landlords and tenants do not typically enter into their relationship looking for conflict. Sometimes, however, problems develop that cannot be easily fixed by a phone call or email. In these situations, a tenant may consider suing their landlord to resolve the issues in court.
To help you prevent this from occurring, we have compiled a list of reasons that your tenant can legitimately sue you so that you can avoid them.
Reasons Your Tenant Can Legitimately Sue You
- Illegally Keeping Your Security Deposit
As a landlord, you cannot…
- Take deductions for normal wear and tear on the property
- Hold onto your security deposit after your rental agreement is over
- Fail to return security deposits and claim falsely that the tenant violated the terms of your lease.
If you do these things, your tenant may have grounds to sue you.
Read Now: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do As A Landlord
- The Property is Uninhabitable
If your tenants can’t live in your rental because it’s dangerous or poses a health risk, it may be considered uninhabitable.
For example, suppose your rental has mould due to water damage, a rat infestation, or even storm damage that has wrecked the property. In that case, you will need to resolve the issue immediately.
If your property is declared uninhabitable and you refuse to make repairs, your tenants might sue you.
- Wrongful Eviction Proceedings
Your tenant has the right to challenge the eviction notice. Landlords must also remember that tenants are protected by the Eviction Act 1977 which ensures the correct processes and notice periods are adhered to.
If you’re looking to notify your tenant that you’d like them to leave your property, you must serve Section 21 or Section 8 notice under the Housing Act 1988.
Section 21 notice of possession
This gives ‘notice of possession’ to the tenant. You can take back control of your property at the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement or trigger an agreed break clause.
Importantly, you don’t have to provide any reason to claim possession when you serve a valid Section 21 notice.
Section 8 eviction notice
This is served when you have grounds for eviction. For example, the tenant has not paid the rent, damaged the property or is causing a nuisance.
You can terminate the tenancy during its fixed term if the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. But your tenant may dispute it, and it could go to court, where you’ll need to evidence the reason for the eviction.
- Housing Discrimination
It is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on race, gender, disability, sexuality or religion.
This means that the following acts are prohibited:
- Renting a property to certain tenants on worse terms than other tenants.
- Treating certain tenants differently when setting policies regarding facilities.
- Evicting or harassing certain tenants because of their race, gender, disability, sexuality or religion.
- Refusing to incorporate reasonable demands in a tenancy agreement which are necessary for a disabled person to live at the property. For example, problems could occur if a landlord held a ‘no pets’ policy and did not offer to alter it for a blind tenant with a guide dog.
- Not Disclosing Lead Paint or Mould Issues
Landlords are required by law to disclose any known mould or previous or existing lead hazards at their properties. Because these issues can cause long-term health problems, it is illegal for landlords to hide them from tenants.
If your tenants find out you failed to disclose this type of information, they can rightfully sue you.
- Failing to Reimburse a Tenant for a Repair
Sometimes tenants will perform repairs in a rental property because a landlord refuses to do so in a reasonable amount of time. When this happens, you must reimburse your tenants for the money spent on the repair.
This is especially true if the repair was affecting the health and safety of your tenants and needed immediate attention.
If you don’t pay your tenants for necessary repairs they perform on your behalf, they can sue you to recover the money spent plus damages.
- Entering a Tenant’s Property Illegally
Landlords usually have to provide reasonable notice to enter a tenant’s rental property, and they can only do so for legally allowed reasons.
If a landlord violates these laws, the tenant can go to court to stop the landlord from entering and could be awarded damages.
- Injury at Rental Property
As a tenant, you could have a case for a lawsuit against your landlord if you are injured at the rental property due to a landlord’s neglect. For example, you slip and fall because there is no lawfully required bannister in the stairwell.
You cannot sue the landlord if your injury is due to your own neglect. For example, your apartment is so dirty that you slip and fall in your apartment on a pile of your own dirty clothing.
Don’t worry about facing your tenants in court – avoid the above situations and save yourself time and stress. There are laws set up to protect both landlords and tenants. While you might not be able to control whether your tenants follow the rules, you can make sure that you do.
At Keey we have a range of management options as well as advice that will help your rental properties flourish. Get in touch with one of our experts today!