Housing needs, options and advice
Private sector rented housing
If you're renting, ask your landlord:
- what is the weekly/monthly rent?
- what is included in the rent?
- does any money need to be paid in advance and if so, what for?
- how much notice do you need to give or be given by the landlord?
- are there any repairs that need doing?
- are you allowed pets?
- are there any added security features?
- are there any problems with the neighbours?
- what is the area like for crime and vandalism?
- is the landlord accredited?
We run a Landlord Accreditation Scheme which encourages and acknowledges good standards in the private rented sector and supports landlords by offering advice, benefits and resources.
You may need to pay a deposit or rent in advance. Before you sign a tenancy agreement read it through and check with your landlord if there is anything you don't understand. If you are still not happy then get some advice before signing. Make sure you get a list of contents and their condition from the landlord. Remember to keep all your paperwork about your tenancy in a safe place.
The landlord can ask you to pay a deposit in case you cause damage to the property or don't pay the rent. The landlord must ensure your deposit is protected under a tenancy deposit protection scheme. You will usually pay an amount equal to 4 weeks rent. At the end of your tenancy, the landlord must give you back your deposit unless you have caused damage or are behind with the rent.
When you pay a deposit make sure you keep a receipt.
The landlord can also ask you to pay a month's rent in advance before you move in even if you are relying on Housing Benefit. If you are entitled to Housing Benefit you should be able to claim some or all of this money back from them.
Accommodation Agencies can make a charge for:
- finding you a new home but only if you sign a tenancy agreement
- preparing a list of contents
- drawing up a tenancy agreement
Accommodation agencies are not allowed to charge you for :
- registering with them or 'going on the books'
- anything at all until you accept a property that they have found for you
If in doubt about money you are being asked to pay, seek independent advice.
If you are on a low income or in receipt of benefits you may be able to claim Local Housing Allowance to pay for your rent. However, Local Housing Allowance may not cover all of your rent and you may have to make up the difference yourself. If you don't do this, you will get into arrears and lose your home.
Landlords need to know which repairs they are responsible for, and inform their tenant how to report repairs. Put simply, landlords are responsible for the structure and exterior of the property. This includes the roof, doors, windows and gutters; Baths, sinks, basins and other sanitary installations; Heating and hot water installations.
Under the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) regulations Act 1998 landlords have to ensure all gas appliances are maintained in good working order and an annual safety check is carried out by a CORGI registered engineer. Landlords have a right to enter their property to inspect its condition and state of repair at reasonable times of the day, and with 24 hours notice to the tenant.
Tenants must do minor repairs for example clearing a blocked sink or replacing fuses. Tenants also have a duty to take proper care of the property and use it in a responsible manner, pay the rent and keep to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of their home. This means they can live in the property as their home and a landlord must seek permission before entering.
Landlords have to follow set procedures to be able to evict a tenant. In some circumstances landlords would have to give grounds as to why they want to evict a tenant, and these are detailed in the law. However, in many situations they don't have to give grounds to seek possession of their property back. Notice to leave a property also depends on the type of tenancy you hold.
A tenant cannot be evicted without a possession order from the courts, which the landlord has to apply for.