Finding a home
What to do before you rent
There are several things you can do before you rent a property to make the process easier and prevent problems occurring at a later date.
- When you start to look for rented property, work out your budget taking into account your bills and other outgoings, so you know what you can realistically afford, you may be able to get Housing Benefit to help pay you rent so find out beforehand. You should never agree to rent a property if you are unsure you can afford it, as not paying your rent will normally result in Court proceedings being taken against you and your eviction from the property.
- Before you agree to rent, or sign anything, take a good look around the property you’re thinking of renting. Is it safe and suitable for you to live in? Here are some things you should think about:
- Heating: what kind is there, and does it work?
- Damp: look for tell tale stains or mould on walls and ceilings.
- Electricity: are there enough sockets and do they work?
- Water: is there provision for hot water?
- Gas: does the property have a Gas Safety Certificate?
- Kitchen and bathroom: are they well equipped and big enough? Do they have adequate ventilation? Do all the fixtures and fittings work?
- Furniture: check what comes with the property and what condition it is in. The landlord should give you a list. Make sure you agree with what’s on it.
- Security: check that all the doors and windows close properly and that there are enough locks and bolts to keep the place secure.
- Safety: how would you get out in a fire? Is there a smoke alarm? If you’re thinking of moving into a house that’s been converted into flats, bedsits or a hostel there should be fire safety equipment such as smoke and heat detectors, fire doors and fire blankets.
- Make a list of anything that does not work or is missing and talk to the landlord about it.
- Get a written tenancy agreement, which says what your rent is and spells out what you and your landlord are responsible for.
- If you pay a deposit to the Landlord, your Landlord must ensure that deposit is protected by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme and notify you of the scheme details within 14 days from the beginning of the tenancy. Always get a receipt for your deposit from the landlord.
Getting repairs done
If you need a repair, telephone or write to your Landlord so that your Landlord can arrange to carry out the work. If your landlord won’t do the work, contact us. We have powers under the Housing Act 2004 to take the necessary action to ensure that your Landlord carries out essential repairs.
When you sign your tenancy agreement you should find out which repairs your landlord is responsible for, which repairs you should do, and how to report a repair.
For further information or to report a problem with your private rented property, please contact us.
How to end your tenancy
If you want to end your tenancy you usually have to give 28 days notice in writing to your landlord (make sure you keep a copy of the letter). If you have a fixed term agreement such as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy you may have to pay rent until the end of your agreement, unless it contains a clause allowing you to leave early.
For example, if you leave after three months of a six month tenancy you may have to pay rent for the remaining three months, if your landlord has been unable to re-let the property during the period of your tenancy. Once the fixed term period is up you need only give 28 days' notice that you wish to leave. Remember to keep a copy of the letter.
For further information, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or see the Where can I get advice about my Tenancy page.
Your landlord wants to end your tenancy
If your landlord tells you that he or she wants you to leave, check your tenancy agreement to see what notice you are entitled to. Unless you are in arrears with your rent, you will normally be entitled to 2 full months' notice, which should give you sufficient time to find alternative accommodation.
Unless you share accommodation with your landlord you will usually be entitled to get written notice and a court order before having to leave. It is a criminal offence for your landlord to evict you without following the correct legal procedure.
If your landlord has asked you to leave, you can get further information or advice from several organisations, see the Where can I get advice about my tenancy page.