Am I a private tenant?
Most people who rent privately in accommodation which is not owned by the Council or a Housing Association are known as private tenants.
- You will usually be a tenant if:
- you live in a flat or house, and
- you pay rent to your landlord, and
- you don't share your home with your landlord, and
- your landlord isn't a family member.
You are probably a tenant if you have a room in a house that you share with people, other than your landlord.
Finding a place to live (renting privately)
If you are looking for private rented accommodation, you have a number of options to look at, this can include
- a local authority housing website eg www.homesforbolton.org.uk and www.pinpoint.org.uk which advertises accredited properties inspected for safety and quality by the Local Authority
- by word of mouth, - check with friends and family if they are renting, their Landlord may be willing to consider you as a recommendation
- in local newspapers and magazines, - the local newspaper has a daily section with the Private Property Page which we keep a copy in our offices for you to check
- in shop windows and notice boards in supermarkets, - sometimes private Landlords will use this as an option to advertise their properties
- through estate agents, - private Landlords may ask an estate agent or a managing agent to manage their properties
If you see a property that looks suitable you must:
- telephone the number provided
- ask for as much information as possible about the property,
- check the amount of rent and deposit needed and if any reference are required
- arrange to view the property before you agree to anything,
- go with a friend to view the property,
- let someone else know where you are going.
Paying for a Bond/Deposit
If you find a property and the Landlord or agent is asking for monies up-front it may be for a Deposit also known as a Bond. This will be paid to the Landlord before you move into the tenancy and paid back to you at the end of the tenancy. This will be on the basis that the property is left in the same condition as when you moved in, there no rent arrears or damages to the property, you have fulfilled the length of the tenancy and that you have gave the required Notice to leave as stipulated in the tenancy.
If you give a cash deposit to your Landlord or agent he/she must provide you with a receipt and make a note of the deposit on the tenancy agreement. If your deposit was paid after the 6th April 2007 all cash deposits must be protected in a government-authorised scheme.
There are three schemes the Landlord can choose from to protect your deposit, however regardless of which scheme your Landlord or agent has used to protect your deposit he/she must provide you with details of how the deposit is being protected.
If you cannot afford a Bond/Deposit
If you are on benefits or on a low income you may be eligible for assistance towards a non-cash deposit guarantee scheme from a charity known as The Bolton Bond Board. To check if you are eligible you must have a housing options interview with an advisor where we will check your age, income, family make-up, local connection, your current housing situation etc. The criteria for obtaining assistance towards a Bond is strict so you may be refused for one, or asked for further information before a decision is made, however you must check that the Landlord is prepared to accept a Bond if you were successful. If you are eligible you will be provided with an application form to complete and called for a further interview upon returning the form to the Bolton Bond Board. This process does take approximately two weeks to reach a final decision on your eligibility for a bond, therefore if you have found a property you may not be able to move in straight away.
If you are not eligible for Bond assistance with the Bolton Bond Board you must
- check if any friends or family can loan you the money for a Bond
- ask your bank or the Credit Union if they can loan you the money
- ask if the Landlord or agent is willing to waive the Bond
Paying for your accommodation
If you are happy with the property, you must check if the property is affordable for you before you sign a tenancy agreement. If you are working you must check whether your wage or salary is enough to cover the rent, council tax, utility bills, food shopping etc. If you are unsure how to check this you can gain assistance from our service, we will complete an income and expenditure form with you to tell you your affordability.
If you are on benefits or on a low income, confirm the Landlord is willing to accept housing benefit claimants, and you may be able to gain assistance towards your rent known as Housing Benefit, you can check what your entitlement is by accessing our on-line benefit claim and calculator.
Before you move into a property
A Landlord/agent will have certain responsibilities that they must adhere to before you move into a tenancy.
- Providing you with an up-to-date gas safety certificate signed by a Gas Safe register-listed engineer
- Providing you with an Energy Performance Certificate
- Protecting your cash Deposit in one of the three tenancy deposit government-authorised scheme
- Providing you with an inventory of all the furniture and fittings in the property, including the condition of these items. This inventory should be completed by both you and the Landlord, signed and dated.
- Providing you with a tenancy agreement, detailing the length of the tenancy, rent amount, amount of deposit, process for reporting repairs etc
- Providing you with the Landlord or acting agent’s contact details
Maintaining your tenancy
Once you have moved into your tenancy you will have certain responsibilities to help you sustain the tenancy. It is important that you know what these are when living in the property. You must
Always pay your rent on time. If you fail to do the Landlord can serve you with a Legal Notice and you may be threatened with homelessness. If you miss a payment or you are worried about getting behind on your rent you must notify your Landlord as soon as possible, and contact us for further advice
Pay your bills on time, most tenants will have to pay the gas, electricity, water and telephone, these would be additional to the council tax and television license.
Allow the Landlord to access the property when necessary. This may be to complete repairs or carry out inspections. You must be reasonable in allowing the Landlord to enter the house but only if the time is mutually convenient for you. If you are concerned that your Landlord is entering the property without permission you must seek advice from us as soon as possible.
Use the property for the purpose in which it was let to you i.e. not a business, do not sub-let your property, take in a lodger or pass on the tenancy to someone else and always inform the Landlord if you are going away for a length of time i.e. in hospital, etc. You must also not make improvements or changes including decorating, to the home without written permission.
Look after the property the best you can and avoid causing damage to your home or your neighbours’ property. Report any damage and or repairs promptly preferably in writing to the Landlord.
Not to cause or allow household members or visitors to cause a nuisance or annoyance to the Landlord, other tenants, or neighbours within the locality. If you do so your Landlord can have a legal reason to evict you and you face being homeless. Anti-Social behaviour includes minor problems with dogs, children, untidy gardens and lifestyle cases through to serious noise problems, violent and criminal behaviour, drug dealing and intimidation or racial harassment. A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.
Give the Landlord the required Notice to end the tenancy, this is usually stipulated in your tenancy agreement.
If you are suffering from neighbour nuisance or anti-social behaviour
As a tenant you have the right to live in a property without anyone causing a nuisance or annoyance to you or members of your family in your home. If you are suffering from any neighbour nuisance you must contact your Landlord or letting agent, and they may be able to advocate on your behalf and speak to the person/s causing the problem to attempt to resolve the situation. If the situation does not improve you can contact our service and we will try to involve an independent service known as Mediation services who will listen to both parties and attempt to resolve informally. For further information on Mediation you can visit www.boltonmediation.org.uk.
If you are suffering from anti-social behaviour you must ring our service to seek further advice as soon as possible. If you feel you are at risk or have sufferered violence from other people you may be able to obtain further assistance from our service. You can also report any anti-social behaviour in confidence to Be Safe Bolton on 01204 336500. If you call out-of-hours you have the option to leave a voicemail and you will get a call back. In the event of an emergency call 999.
If your Landlord is asking you to leave
If your Landlord wants you to leave, they must serve you with a Legal Notice in writing. The Landlord does not always have to give a reason as to why they want the property back, but they do have to provide on the Notice, your details, their details, a start date or date of the Notice served, an end date etc. If you are served with a Notice and you have concerns you must contact our service for further advice.
If your Notice is deemed as valid, we will provide you with your housing options to start looking for alternative accommodation.
If we deem that your Notice is invalid we will contact the Landlord and explain the correct legal procedure of serving a Notice.
Once your legal Notice has ended, if you have still not found alternative accommodation the Landlord must apply to the County Court for a Possession Order. The Landlord must pay when he makes the application to the court, and if the court grant this order to the Landlord you will be given a date from them of when you must leave. You may be ordered to pay the Landlord court costs as well as any expenses you have incurred yourself. If you do not pay this you may end up with a court debt.
If your Landlords attempts to or evicts you without following the correct legal procedure it can be classed as an illegal eviction. If this happens you must contact our service as soon as possible so we can negotiate with your Landlord for you to return to the property.
If you are unsure or concerned about any aspects of your tenancy, seek advice from our service as soon as possible.