Advice for private tenants

We provide a service for tenants who privately rent their home in the Harrogate district. We have legal powers to ensure your landlord carries out certain repairs within your rented property.

Landlord and tenant rights

The government has published guidance for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector. Find out about your rights and responsibilities as a landlord and tenant and what to do if you have any issues. The guide also contains useful contacts.

How do I make a complaint about my private rented property?

Prior to making a complaint to the private sector housing team, we would ask that you make a complaint in writing to your landlord/letting agent. This is an example of the information you should send to your landlord/letting agent. Your landlord/letting agent should be given 14 days to make a reasonable response to you, or to arrange to carry out any required works. If you do not receive a response within 14 days, or the response does not set out what they intend to do to remedy the problem, including a reasonable timeframe for carrying out the works, then you should contact us to make a complaint.

When making a complaint please provide the following details:

  • your name, address and contact details
  • the defects at the property
  • how and when you complained to your landlord/letting agent, including a copy of the complaint, for example, email, screenshot of a text message
  • the name, address and contact details of your landlord/letting agent

If your landlord has not done the works you have asked them to do, we have environmental health officers who can inspect your property. If hazards are found from disrepair we can ask the landlord to carry out works and serve legal notices to ensure these get done. Please use the private rented accommodation issues online form and one of the officers will contact you for more details.

Private rented accommodation issues form

What if my repair is urgent?

Urgent repairs can include things like no heating/hot water, unsafe gas/electrics, burst water pipes etc. If you've told your landlord and they're not doing anything about it please contact us on 01423 500600 or [email protected] and we will investigate.

Documents to be provided at the start of a tenancy

At the start of any new tenancy you should be provided with the following documents from your landlord/letting agents:

If your landlord/letting agent has failed to provide any of these documents they will be unable to serve a valid Section 21 notice to quit on a tenant who serves a periodic tenancy.

In addition to the above documents, you should be provided with any record or any electrical inspections (if available) and evidence that any smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy.

I have been served with a notice to quit, what should I do?

If you have been served with a notice to quit, you should get the notice checked to make sure it is valid.

To check the validity of the notice and receive advice on your options please contact our housing options team on 01423 500600 or [email protected].

Our housing options team are based at civic centre, St Luke's Avenue, Harrogate, HG1 2AE. The team provides a drop-in service and can provide advice on rehousing:

  • Monday to Thursday from 8.30am until 12 noon and 2pm until 4pm
  • Friday from 8.30am until 12 noon and 2pm until 3.30pm

If these times are not convenient for you, please contact the housing options team on 01423 500600 and an appointment can be arranged for a time that suits you.

Damp and mould

Have a read of our damp and condensation booklet. Following this, if you believe that the issue should be addressed by your landlord/letting agent, please see how to make a complaint.

Gas safety

Gas safety legislation is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Gas safety inspections should be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer on an annual basis.

If you have not been provided with a copy of the current gas safety certificate or suspect that one hasn't been carried out then you can report this to the HSE.

Gas safety inspections should be carried out once a year as a minimum, by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

If you smell gas or are concerned about the safety of a gas appliance you should do the following immediately:

  • call National Grid's gas emergency freephone number: 0800 111999
  • open all the doors and windows
  • shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is)

It is illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they suspect it is unsafe. Turn the appliance off and do not touch it until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Should my landlord provide me with a smoke alarm?

Since October 2015 all privately rented properties are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every habitable floor of their property.

It is a landlord's responsibility to evidence that smoke alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy. You should then regularly check they are working. It would be advised that this is done on a monthly basis, as a minimum.

Note: This requirement is not the same for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), regardless of whether it is licensable or not. If you have a HMO or believe your property may be a HMO, then please consult the HMO information on our website, or for further information contact us at [email protected].

Should my landlord provide me with a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm?

Since October 2015 privately rented properties have been required to have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where there is a solid fuel burning appliance, for example an open fire or log burning stove.

We would strongly recommend that all properties with a gas appliance have a carbon monoxide alarm, but this is not currently a legal requirement.

Carbon monoxide alarms should comply with British Standard EN 50291.

It is a landlord's responsibility to evidence that carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy. Tenants should then regularly check they are working.

Note: If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) which has a HMO licence, it is a condition of the licence for the property to have a carbon monoxide alarm where there is a gas appliance.

Electrical safety

It is not currently a legal requirement for landlords to have an electrical safety inspection carried out at their properties (except for HMOs*). However, it is recommended and best practice for an electrical safety inspection to be carried out to ensure that the electrics in a property are safe.

If you are concerned about the conditions of the electrics in your property, please see how to make a complaint.

For further information on electrical safety for tenants please visit: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guidance/advice-for-you/tenants/.

*Owners of HMOs are required to have an electrical safety check carried out at their properties at a minimum of every five years.

Retaliatory eviction

Since October 2015, landlords have been unable to evict tenants in certain circumstances which may be deemed retaliatory following a tenant complaint. Retaliatory eviction is when the landlord evicts someone as a result of a tenant making a warranted complaint to them and to the local authority, and the local authority taking certain forms of enforcement action.

In attempt to prevent retaliatory eviction all tenants making a complaint to the local authority should have previously contacted their landlord in writing to inform them of the issues at the property. Please see how to make a complaint.

Illegal eviction and harassment

If your landlord wants to evict you he/she must follow the proper legal procedure and give you the correct notice period. This will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have.

Your landlord will probably be committing an offence if they;

  • change the locks whilst you're out
  • threatens you if you do not leave
  • physically throws you out
  • stops you getting into certain parts of your home

It is also illegal for your landlord, letting agent or someone on their behalf to harass you.

Harassment can be defined as;

  • acts likely to interfere with the peace and comfort of those living in the property, or
  • persistent withdrawal of services which are reasonably required for the occupation of the premises

If you believe you are a victim of illegal eviction or harassment please contact the housing options team on 01423 500600 or [email protected].

Our housing options team is based at civic centre, St Luke's Avenue, Harrogate, HG1 2AE. The team provides a drop-in service and can provide advice on rehousing:

  • Monday to Thursday from 8.30am until 12 noon and 2pm until 4pm
  • Friday from 8.30am until 12 noon and 2pm until 3.30pm

If these times are not convenient for you, please contact the housing options team on 01423 500600 and an appointment can be arranged for a time that suits you.

If housing options believe an offence has been committed by your landlord or any other person, they will refer the matter to the private sector housing team for further investigation and enforcement action.

My deposit hasn't been put into a tenancy deposit scheme, what should I do?

It is a legal requirement for your landlord/letting agent to put your deposit into one of the government-backed tenancy deposit schemes if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007.

If you think your landlord hasn't protected your deposit, you should firstly check with the tenancy deposit schemes to check that it hasn't been protected. Details of the schemes can be found at www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection. If you landlord hasn't put your deposit into a protected scheme we advise you to seek legal advice.

Energy performance certificate (EPC)

Since 2008, landlords have been required to provide new tenants with an energy performance certificate (EPC). If a landlord has not provided you with an EPC at the start of your tenancy, they cannot serve you with a valid notice to quit.

Since April 2018 there has been a requirement for all new tenancies and renewals of tenancies to have a minimum EPC rating of an E or above, unless they are exempt.

Since April 2019, landlords now have to pay towards the required energy efficiency improvements before starting a new tenancy or renewing a tenancy of a property with an EPC rating of F or G, unless they are exempt. The financial contribution is up to a cost of £3,500.

From April 2020, all privately rented properties (with on-going tenancies) will be required to have a minimum EPC rating of an E or above, unless they are exempt.

If a property does not meet a rating of E, the landlord is prohibited from granting new tenancies, or renewing/extending existing tenancies.

If you have not received a valid EPC at the start of your tenancy, your EPC is more than 10 years old or it is a rating of an F or G then you can make a complaint to the private sector housing team.

You can check the EPC for your property on the following website: www.epcregister.com.

I am looking to live in a property as a property guardian, where can I find out more information?

A property guardian is someone who has entered into an agreement to live in a building or part of a building that would normally be otherwise empty for the primary purpose of securing and safeguarding the property. The government has issued a factsheet for further information.

How can I complain about my property manager or letting agent?

From October 2014, all property managers and letting agents have been required to be part of a government approved property redress scheme and abide by the rules of the scheme. You can check to see if your property manager or letting agent is a member of a redress scheme by visiting the two listed on the following website: www.gov.uk/redress-scheme-estate-agencies.

If you have checked and found your property manager or letting agent isn't a member of either scheme, contact us to report it to us. We can issue a penalty notice for up to £5,000 to anyone who needs to be a member but is not registered.

If you are in dispute with a property manager or letting agent who is registered with a scheme, simply find out which property redress scheme they belong to and report your problems to the scheme. They will help sort you out.

What are my legal responsibilities for storing and disposing of waste from my rented property?

The council's environmental protection team have produced information for tenants to make sure you are complying with the law.