Needless to say, every landlord should be aware of their rights, which includes the things they can do and can’t do in respect to a Tenancy.

However, the reality is that a number of landlords are acting in accordance to their own little rule book, which is usually very different to the only rule book that should be followed, “the law.”

The aim of this blog post is to cover some of the things landlords can’t do, or to put more accurately, things landlord aren’t permitted to do by law (but often try to do anyway if not correctly advised or make  request for an agent to do on their behalf).


Many of the breaches, despite how seemingly ‘obvious’ and heavily documented, are still, sadly, ignored.

While the law isn’t always being broken intentionally (which isn’t a defence) there is an undeniable truth about some landlords try crossing the line even though they know better, and that’s because many of them rely on the ignorance of tenants to escape consequences. Unfortunately, it’s a gamble and whilst many landlords used to win the average Tenant today has a wealth of information at their disposal.


Therefore trying to cross the line as a Landlord makes you a potential target for persecution (all it takes is one tenant with a bit of sense).

What Landlords can’t do (but often do anyways)
(Summary full details below)

  • Enter property without permission
  • Excessively contact tenant
  • Change the door locks
  • Discriminate
  • Refuse to make essential repairs
  • Not secure the tenancy deposit
  • Increase rent disproportionately.
  • Write bogus clauses in the tenancy agreement
  • Evict tenants out during the fixed-term and/or without proper notice

Enter property without permission

Our biggest request. Perhaps the most misunderstood / neglected “can’t do” out of the lot.

To be put simply, a tenant has a statutory right to “live in quiet enjoyment“, that means:

  • A landlord/agent cannot turn up at the property announced unless there is an emergency e.g. fire and even then a Tenant can still  legally refuse you entry.
  • A landlord/agent cannot ‘force entry’ into the property (i.e. enter without permission)
  • A landlord/agent should give at least 24 hours written notice if they wish to enter the property, but even then, the tenant has the right to refuse if it’s not convenient.
  • Even if it there is a clause in the tenancy agreement that permits access, the tenant’s statutory right to live in quiet enjoyment will supersede that clause.

One of the most common scenarios is when landlords/letting agents let themselves into a property announced to conduct viewings or check on maintenance.

Excessively contact tenant (when the tenant is in arrears)

I put “when the tenant is in arrears” in brackets because that’s one of the most common reasons for why landlords become frustrated especially if they have not used an agent that includes Rental Guarantee within their management service is when financial disruption occurs. Firstly there is a misunderstanding with “Arrears” in relation to tenants. (Tenants usually pay Rent in advance so whilst we invoice them for their payment they are technically not in arrears for 30 days.)


However contacting a tenant at appropriate stages still as to be adhered to even when they are in arrears.

Without realising, many landlords make a bad situation worse by exchanging mobile numbers with their tenant during a tenancy and then use these contact details to excessively contacting them when a situation occurs introducing a potential claim for harassment from a tenant.

We understand that when a tenant is in arrears, it’s tempting to call/text the tenant continually (until the situation is resolved), especially when the tenant is not being responsive. But there is a genuine argument for harassment when a landlord starts calling/texting every day, and especially when threats are made.

Act professionally when communicating, and don’t act with emotions. The rule of Guidance in relation to contacting tenants including arrears is 7,14 and 21 Days after event/last contact.

Change the door locks

No the landlord cannot change the locks, even if the tenant is in breach of contract i.e. in rent arrears.

The only time a landlord can change the locks is when a tenancy agreement is legally terminated, or if granted by a Judge.


Referencing the, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • age
  • being or becoming a transsexual person
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

They are called ‘protected characteristics’, and tenants cannot be discriminated against for the above reasons. However, on a side note, that does not mean landlords can’t ‘lawfully discriminate’. For example, it’s perfectly reasonable for landlords to discriminate against a prospective tenant if they can’t afford the rent, or has horrendous credit history but this has to be evidenced and cannot be just because an individual is in receipt of benefit/universal credit payments.

Refuse to make essential repairs

The law, that is, section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, covers the legal obligation a landlord has to carry out basic repairs. Generally, it means that the landlord is responsible for keeping the following in repair and proper working order:

  • a) the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
  • b) the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences,)c) the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.

Oh, and even when the tenant is in arrears, a landlord is still obligated to make the essential repairs.

Not secure the tenancy deposit

This is a brief one and applies to all Landlords even when they have requested the deposit to be forwarded to themselves. The tenancy deposit legislation applies to every landlord in England and Wales that has taken a deposit from a tenant under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement! If you are placing the deposit in your own scheme you must provide details of the scheme prior to receiving the Deposit.


Increase rent

To highlight the need-to-knows:

  • A landlord cannot increase rent during the fixed-term of a tenancy
  • Tenant’s are entitled to a minimum of 1 month rent increase notice
  • The rental increase amount cannot be a figure the Landlord requires.  The increase must be deemed “fair” The best way to ensure a fair rate is by keeping it in line with similar properties in the same area which a reputable letting agent will always provide and try to achieve


Requesting excessive clauses in the tenancy agreement


Basically, just because a tenancy agreement contract has been signed by both parties, it doesn’t automatically make every clause legal or enforceable by law.

  • All written tenancy agreement contracts must be “Fair” and “Clear” (i.e. in plain English) and not intended to mislead the tenant in any way. That means, clauses based around excessive penalties may be deemed ‘unfair ‘and therefore reasonably challenged and denied.
  • No clause can supersede/overwrite a tenant’s or landlord’s statutory right. For example, it is a tenant’s statutory right to ‘live in quiet enjoyment’, no clause in a tenancy agreement can revoke that right.

Try to evict tenants during the fixed-term or without notice


There’s a legal process for a landlord to repossess a property, and giving a tenant a few days notice in the middle of a fixed-term is not one of them! Sorry!

There are potentially many caveats to the following rules, it all depends on the specific scenarios, but generally speaking:

  • A landlord cannot evict a tenant during a fixed term unless there is a break-clause (but notice must still be given via a Section 21 letter), or there are grounds for eviction, and in which case, the eviction procedure must be followed.
  • Perhaps the most misunderstood protocol: despite what is written in the contract in regards to the ‘end-date’, the tenancy agreement will NOT automatically terminate. The landlord must still give the tenant a minimum of 2 months notice via a Section 21 notice if he/she wishes to repossess the property on the end-date specified in the contract.
  • The tenancy has rolled over to a periodic tenancy, a minimum notice period equal to the frequency of rent payments is required. For example, if rent is paid every month, a minimum of one month’s notice should be given.

In any case, a tenancy agreement must always be legally terminated!

So, there we have it! That’s my list of what “landlord can’t do” (but often do anyways).

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