The Rent Act of 1977 made sure that sitting tenants, who signed their contract before 15 January 1989, have the uninterrupted right of tenure. Although sitting tenants enjoy a lot of protection, there are also responsibilities that they have to adhere to if they don’t want to invalidate their tenancy.
A tenants rights
A sitting tenant has the right to occupy a property for life without being disturbed and should a sitting tenant die, they are allowed to pass on the tenancy to a spouse or another family member. Even if the property changes its owners, it’s almost impossible to evict these tenants as their rights and responsibilities don’t change.
As part of the tenants’ rights, the landlord has to keep the sitting tenant’s property in good external working order. Sometimes landlords try to ignore this fact due to the lower amount of rent being paid, however it is vital you ensure landlords stick to their side of the tenancy agreement. If needed instruct either the local housing association or your solicitor. They also needs to provide amenities supplies and health and safety procedures must be followed at all times.
As long as a sitting tenant pays their rent, they can stay in the property for as long as they choose. The rent paid is often below the market value and it is a sitting tenants right to keep on this lower rental scale. This is often due to the economic situation of the tenant. This rent is reviewed by the housing office every two years, and it is the tenant’s right to be present and vocal throughout the rent review process to ensure the Housing Office is fully aware of their situation.
A tenants responsibilities
In order to not invalidate their sitting tenant status, tenants must pay their rent on time. If a tenant owes the landlord rent for three months or more then the landlord will be able to apply for an eviction order under the terms of the Rent Act 1977. The tenant is responsible for the property’s internal maintenance. Reasonable repairs must be undertaken and none of the household equipment must be used in any way other than what it is intended for.
The tenant must comply with the regulations that the original tenancy agreement outlines, which can include not having any pets and making sure that the garden stays maintained. If the tenant ignores these rules, they run the risk of losing their sitting tenant rights.
None of these rights and responsibilities change, even if a landlord decides to sell the property. If the property does change hands, a sitting tenant is under no obligations and they do not have to sign a new contract if they don’t want to. The original agreement still remains valid even though the name is out of date. However if you do decide not to sign the new tenancy agreement it is crucial that you make sure you get your new landlord’s payment details, as a change of landlord is not a valid excuse for non-payment of rent.
It isn’t hard to imagine why sitting tenants want to keep their status and why landlords want them to change their contracts. The best thing a sitting tenant can do is to stick to the agreed upon rules and regulations and play it completely by the book. That way the landlord won’t be able to apply for an eviction order.
James Sinclair is a freelance write. He graduated from University College London with a first class honours degree in social policy. James is studying for a masters about the impact of the creation of a Universal Credit Union on low income families.