I have finally laid my hands upon a copy of the new book by Tessa Shepperson, the maestro of Landlord law blog and old friend of this blog. The book has been out since early summer, so apologies to Tessa for my belatedness.
Given this intro, I can hardly pretend to a fully objective review. But ‘Renting: The Essential Guide to Tenants’ Rights‘ is certainly well worth noting here, (despite the – let’s be honest – not wonderful cover design, for which clearly Tessa is in no way responsible).
It is important that this is not a specialist’s text. Tessa has set out to produce a clear, comprehensible and useful guide to becoming, being and stopping being a tenant, what rights one has as a tenant and what can be done to exercise and protect those rights. The tenant is the reader.
As anyone working in housing law will know, tenants and, all too often, landlords are ignorant of the actual rights, obligations and liabilities that are involved, as most of these are statutory and rarely set out in tenancy agreements or the like. Giving a clear account of what is involved is very difficult and tends to be laden with caveats, digressions and qualifications. So I am very impressed that Tessa’s book manages to organise the main and significant points of current (as of 01/07/07) tenancy law in a way which is marvellously straightforward and practical.
At an early stage, the reader is guided through identifying what kind of tenancy they have. After that, the approach is to describe specific rights. E.g. Right to be treated fairly, Right regarding condition of the property and repairs, Right to have your deposit returned, Right to live in the property undisturbed. This works very well, enabling distinct areas of the law to be brought together under the kinds of concern that the tenant may have.
The difference between the law affecting different kinds of tenancy is made clear, with separate sections where required, all following from the reader’s initial identification of their tenancy type. The three main current forms of tenancy: shorthold assured; assured, and secure, receive detailed consideration where they differ from each other. Other older or rarer forms of tenancy are also addressed, as are student lets and the particular issues of HMOs.
The book is also clear about where the law is especially complex or where the situation requires specialist advice (e.g. tolerated trespassers). The reader is advised to seek help and, in a separate section, informed how to find help, how to work with their advisor and importantly, how to avoid unnecessary expense and dodgy ‘advisors’.
In the full realisation that this book might do my firm out of some private client fees, I recommend it highly to all tenants or tenants to be. It will be of great help in avoiding problems and knowing what the options are when problems arise. I would also recommend it to general, non-housing specialist, welfare advisors – in an advice agency, for instance – and to landlords, as their right, duties and liabilities are also clearly laid out.
It is also astonishingly cheap – well beyond a bargain. Buy one for every tenant you know!
 The link is to Amazon.co.uk, but for clarity, I am not getting any referral payments.