Last edited 06 Nov 2018


A tenant is the occupier of a leasehold estate or, in simple terms, someone who occupies land or property that they rent from a landlord.

A business tenant is somebody who rents or leases the place where they conduct their business. The Landlord and Tenant Act is the governing legislation for landlords and business tenants.

Rent is the payment made by the tenant (or lessee) to the landlord (or lessor) for the temporary use of land, a building, a flat, and so on. The payment is usually made periodically during the time the land, etc. is being used or occupied.

Periodic tenancies that continue on a weekly or monthly basis cannot be subject to more than one rent increase per year by the landlord without the tenant’s agreement.

A fixed-term tenancy, which runs for a defined time period, allows the landlord to increase the rent only if the tenant agrees. Without agreement, the rent can only be increased when the fixed term ends and before it is renewed. However, virtually all commercial leases issued in the UK will contain a provision allowing the landlord to periodically adjust the rent payable by the tenant.

The following obligations apply to any tenancy:

  • The landlord must get the tenant’s permission before the rent can be increased by more than previously agreed.
  • The rent increase must be fair, realistic, and not out of keeping with average local rents.
  • The procedure for increasing rent set out in the tenancy agreement must be adhered to.
  • Without such a procedure in the tenancy agreement, the rent can only be increased at the end of the fixed term.
  • If the tenancy is weekly or monthly the landlord must give a minimum of one month’s notice for rent increases. If the tenancy yearly then they must give 6 months’ notice.
  • Landlords can pursue eviction procedures if a tenant falls behind with rent payments.

Deposits are usually paid by new tenants to landlords to secure the property and provide security in the event of default, or damage to the property. If a home is rented on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) that started after 6 April 2007, the landlord must put the deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP).

Tenants of council housing can form themselves into a group or body known as a tenant management organisation (TMO) which allows them to collectively manage their homes.

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