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Tenants’ Rights After 10 Years (UK): Full List of Extra Rights

The longer a tenant remains in a rented property, the more rights they accrue. After residing in the same privately rented home for 10 years or more, they are considered a long-term tenant and gain additional protections under UK law. 

From having stronger grounds to challenge rent increases to gaining greater security against eviction, this guide outlines all the extra tenants’ rights renters are entitled to after a decade in a rental property.

What rights do tenants have after 10 years?

After being a tenant in the same private rented property for 10 consecutive years or more, renters qualify as a long-term tenant under UK law. This affords them greater security and protection compared to tenants who have resided for shorter periods. The key additional rights gained include:

Increased security of tenure

For a long-term tenant, the landlord must follow more stringent rules and have stronger grounds to evict tenants through a court order compared to tenants renting for less than 10 years. 

Acceptable reasons include:

  • Non-payment of rent (with at least eight weeks of arrears)
  • Other breaches of tenancy terms
  • Anti-social behavior
  • The landlord wishes to redevelop or demolish the property

However, the landlord cannot simply evict a tenant without a court order once the 10-year mark has passed.

Stricter rules on rent increases

While landlords can generally increase rent once the fixed term ends, for long-term tenants they must follow strict notification procedures. This includes providing renters with:

  • A rent increase notice at least six months in advance
  • Details on how the revised rent has been calculated
  • The right of the tenant to challenge the increase via a rent assessment committee

The rent officer will determine if the new rent is fair and reflects market rates for similar properties. Rent cannot be hiked simply due to the length of the tenancy.

Right to succession

Long-term tenants have succession rights that allow their spouse or partner to remain should the original tenant pass away.

Right to obtain a fair rent

In addition to having greater protections against excessive rent increases, long-term tenants who have resided for over 10 years also have the right to obtain a fair rent determination from the rent officer or rent assessment committee.

This provides a way for renters to challenge the rent amount if they believe it is above the market rate for similar properties in the area. The rent officer will assess factors like:

  • Location and amenities of the rental property
  • Size, condition and age of the property
  • Average rents for comparable properties nearby
  • Any furniture or services provided by the landlord

Based on this analysis, the rent officer can then set a fair rent that the landlord must abide by for a specified period, usually 12 to 24 months.

A long-term tenant can apply for a fair rent assessment at any time. This acts as an important check to prevent landlords from raising rents to unreasonable levels simply due to your lengthy tenancy.

It’s worth noting that if improvements like a new bathroom or kitchen have been installed, this could justify the landlord increasing the rent beyond what the fair rent had previously been set at.

Avoiding discrimination due to length of tenancy

Landlords are not permitted to discriminate against long-term tenants when it comes to granting tenancy renewals or rent reviews based solely on the length of occupancy.

Right to make alterations

Long-term tenants after 10 years gain additional rights when it comes to making alterations or improvements to the rental property. Whereas landlords can generally be restrictive about what changes tenants can make, they must be more permissive for long-tenured occupants.

Under UK law, after being in the property for over a decade, they have the right to remove or alter any fixtures and make improvements like:

  • Installing new bathroom and kitchen units
  • Putting up new wallpaper or painting walls
  • Replacing outdated fixtures like lights or sinks
  • Minor structural alterations like removing non-load bearing walls

The key condition is that the changes cannot detract from the overall value of the property. As long as the alterations are improvements, the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse consent.

It’s still advisable, however, for tenants to get the landlord’s written permission before making any major changes, as they may have particular requirements around specifications and contractors used. Cosmetic changes like painting or hanging pictures likely won’t require formal approval.

If the landlord does refuse consent for requested alterations, tenants can appeal their decision to a residential property tribunal, which can grant you the right to proceed if the refusal is deemed unreasonable.

Right to sublet or take in lodgers

Another important right long-term tenants gain after a decade is the ability to sublet part of their rental home or take in lodgers. Whereas standard rental agreements often prohibit subletting entirely, long-term tenants have more flexibility.

Specifically, after being in the property for 10 consecutive years, tenants can:

  • Sublet a room or portion of the property as long as they provide the landlord with notice and details on the subletting arrangement.
  • Take in a lodger to live with them as long as it does not constitute overcrowding under the Housing Act.

This can provide an extra income stream by renting out spare rooms. Or it allows children or relatives to move in with affordable accommodations.

However, tenants remain the main tenant responsible for the rent and any damage. Subletting the entire property is still not permitted without explicit consent from the landlord.

There are also some exceptions where this right may not apply, such as if:

  • The property is owned by a private or housing association landlord specifically for students
  • There is a working agricultural tied cottage
  • The rental agreement explicitly states it is for a holiday let only

But in most standard long-term rental situations, you gain these extended subletting rights after a decade as the tenant.

Right to refuse entry for viewings

Tenants living in the property for 10 years or more have the right to refuse their landlord entry to the property for the purposes of holding viewings with prospective new tenants.

Most standard rental agreements allow the landlord to enter and show the property, as long as they provide proper notice (usually 24 hours). However, once a tenant passes the decade mark, they can deny access for viewings.

This prevents the hassle and disruption of frequent strangers trooping through the home at all hours. It provides renters greater privacy and security in their residence after being a tenant for such a lengthy period.

The only exceptions are if the landlord wishes to:

  • View the property themselves
  • Carry out repairs or maintenance
  • Allow a surveyor or valuer to inspect it

In those cases, the tenant cannot reasonably refuse entry, as long as the landlord follows the correct notification procedures laid out in your tenancy agreement.

But for the purposes of marketing the property and holding viewings for re-letting, the landlord requires the tenants to express permission after they have been residing for over 10 years.

Selling a property with long-term tenants

If you are a landlord looking to sell your rental property, you need to be aware of the additional rights afforded to long-term tenants who have lived there for more than a decade. This can impact the sale process.

Specifically, if your tenants have resided in the property for over 10 consecutive years, they have:

Right to remain after property sale

The new owner inherits your tenants and must respect their tenancy agreement. They cannot simply evict long-term tenants without proper grounds and a court order. This provides important security of tenure for the occupants.

Right to be informed of the property sale

As the landlord, you are legally obligated to inform your tenants in writing of your intention to sell and provide details of the property sale process. Long-term tenants have a right to this information.

Right to view the sale contract

Long-term tenants can request to see the sale contract and any terms relevant to their tenancy agreement. This allows them to understand their standing with the incoming buyer and new landlord.

Right to refuse viewings

Again, tenants past the 10-year mark have the right to refuse allowing viewings with prospective buyers, providing them greater privacy during the sale process.

From a buyer’s perspective, having long-term tenants can make a property less attractive if their future plans clash with the tenants’ rights. Buyers looking for a vacant property may aim to negotiate a lower price to account for potentially having to provide longer notice periods before renovating or reoccupying.

It’s important, therefore, that as the selling landlord, you are upfront about any long-tenured tenants and their statutory rights. Doing so allows all parties to properly understand their positions going into the sale.

Failure to disclose the existence of long-term tenants can potentially lead to allegations of misrepresentation and allow the buyer to pull out of the sale or renegotiate on those grounds after the fact.

How to sell a property with long-term tenants

Selling a property with tenants who have resided for over 10 years can be more complicated due to their additional rights. There are some strategies to consider, however:

Negotiate a tenant buy-out

You may be able to come to an agreement with your long-term tenants to incentivise them to leave the property voluntarily. This could involve offering a cash lump sum or covering their moving expenses in exchange for them ending the tenancy and vacating by an agreed date.

Sell to cash-buying companies

Professional property buying companies like Property Rescue will purchase properties with sitting tenants already in place. This option is perfect for landlords who want a quick and guaranteed sale.

We, at Property Rescue, have experience dealing with the rights of long-term tenants, and we’ll purchase the property from you as-is, with the tenants remaining under their new ownership. You get a fast sale without having to deal with the complexities of the tenants’ rights yourself.

Property Rescue takes care of the legal work and can complete in as little as 48 hours. All you need to do is get a free, no-obligation quote to see how much your home is worth. 

Summary: Tenants rights

As tenants accrue more rights the longer they remain in a property, it’s important for both renters and landlords to understand the protections afforded after a decade-long tenancy. From rent controls to the right to make alterations, being aware of these rights can prevent conflicts and ensure a harmonious long-term rental experience for all parties involved.

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