Five property rental myths uncovered

Robert Powell reveals the 5 biggest myths that could see you end up at war with your landlord.

Rob Powell hits the streets to get your views on these property myths

The financial downturn has meant that more of us are renting properties than ever before.  The typical age of an unassisted first time buyer is now 37 – and a majority of mortgage lenders won’t even look at buyers who are younger than 30.

So with landlords and letting agencies rubbing their hands at the prospect of a booming rental market, how much do we really know about renting property?

I’ve taken to the streets to find out.

Myth 1: A landlord can give you a month’s notice to leave a property.

Most of the people we interviewed thought the landlord could kick you out within a month – one person even thought a tenant could be booted out in a fortnight.

But whilst you may pay rent by the month, a landlord has to give you at least two months notice if he wants to kick you out.

They do this by issuing a Section 21 which gives the tenants two months notice before they are evicted.

But for a landlord to do this you must have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the deposit must be properly protected and any fixed term agreements must have ended.

Myth 2: A landlord can enter the property whenever he likes.

A lot of the people we interviewed were clued up about this widely-believed myth – but one person thought the landlord could enter the property if they were owed money.

In fact it’s actually illegal for a landlord to enter their property without prior permission from the tenant.

But the landlord does have the right to reasonable access to carry out repairs that they are responsible for– but even then, they still needs to check with the tenant at least 24 hours in advance.

Myth 3: A landlord can chuck you out if you don’t pay the rent.

One of the people we interviewed thought that this was the case, but most knew that they had more rights. As even if you are the tenant from hell, a landlord cannot legally chuck you out unless he has gone through the courts.

If a landlord decides to evict you before the end of a fixed term contract he has to seek a court order to repossess the property, which normally takes four to five months.

If you haven’t signed a fixed term contract it will still take a landlord 2 months to get hold of a Section 21 possession order.

Myth 4: The landlord decides whether or not you get your deposit back.

A majority of the people we interviewed knew that some sort of third party were involved in holding the deposit, but still thought the landlord had a greater say in whether you get any money back.

Of course the landlord has a say in whether you get your deposit back or not, but so do you.

Since 2007 it’s been a legal requirement for all deposits paid under Assured Shorthold Tenancies to be held and protected by a third party.

The landlord has to protect your deposit within 14 days and it’s the third party organisation that decides how much you get back.

Myth 5: A landlord can set bailiffs on you if you owe him or her money.

A lot of people thought that if you go without paying rent for a long time the landlord can contact a third party with a view to taking your property.

This is where commercial and residential tenancy law differs – as if a tenant in a commercial let falls behind with their rent, the landlord can instruct bailiffs to take goods from the premises to hold or sell.

But fear not, with residential lets the landlord has no such privilege. So however far behind you get paying rent, you’re TV and hair straighteners will be safe.

Really the most important things to remember when taking out any tenancy is to ensure the landlord protects your deposit properly, you read and sign a tenancy agreement and complete inventory and you take some pictures of the properties condition when moving in.

Happy property hunting!

More: The dodgy landlord scammers The most affordable UK cities to rent!


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