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Before you move into a property

A Landlord/agent will have certain responsibilities that they must adhere to before you move into a tenancy, these include:

  • 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

Make sure that you have all of these in place before you move into the property.

From October 2015 all new tenants or those renewing a fixed term must be given a "How to rent" guide. Landlords must always ensure that the booklet provided is the most up to date copy.

For more information you can call on 01204 335900 or email housing.options@bolton.gov.uk

Before you move into a property advice guide

 

Paying for 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 need help to understand if the property is affordable please contact Housing Options.

If you are on benefits or on a low income, confirm the Landlord is willing to accept housing benefit you may be able to claim Housing Benefit to pay for all or part of the rent.

You will need to check that your landlord is happy to receive Housing Benefit.

The amount of Housing Benefit that the Council can pay will depend upon the Local Housing Allowance Rates. To find out how much local housing allowance is payable visit:
https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Secure/Search.aspx

To find out how much benefit you may get you can use the Governments Benefit Calculator: www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

You can visit the Council’s Housing Benefit page for more information on how to apply: http://www.bolton.gov.uk/website/pages/Housingbenefit.aspx

 Paying for accommodation advice notes

 

Paying for a Bond/Deposit

Tenancy Deposits

Most private landlords ask new tenants to pay a deposit. A tenancy deposit gives your landlord protection against you leaving without paying the rent or for any damage you cause.

Your landlord should confirm in writing what the deposit covers. This may be set out in your tenancy agreement or your landlord may give you a separate document that should be signed by you and your landlord.

Your deposit is your money. If you've paid all the rent due and caused no damage, the full amount of your tenancy deposit should be returned at the end of your tenancy. Your landlord can make reasonable deductions from your deposit to cover certain losses.

Tenancy Deposit Protection

Your landlord is required by law to protect your deposit in a Government backed scheme. They make sure you’ll get your deposit back if you:

  • Meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • Don’t damage the property
  • Pay your rent and bills

Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of getting it.

At the end of your tenancy your landlord must return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back.

If you’re in a dispute with your landlord, then your deposit will be protected in the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme until the issue is sorted out.

The Bond Guarantee Scheme

A Bond Guarantee is a non-cash deposit that can be provided to a landlord before a tenancy starts. It replaces the cash deposit a landlord would normally expect a tenant to pay. The Bond Board act as Guarantor on behalf of the tenant and would pay the landlord up to the value of the Bond for certain losses during the tenancy.

What does the Bond Guarantee cover?

The landlord can make a claim for rent arrears or significant damage to the property or contents as detailed in the tenancy agreement. The Bond does not cover for negligible damage, wear and tear or cleaning costs.

Who is eligible to apply for the Bond?

You can apply for a Bond if you are:

  • Single with a family
  • On a low income/benefits
  • Homeless or threated with homelessness

If you need a bond you can contact the Housing Option Services who will ask you further questions and check if you are eligible for assistance.

 Paying for a Bond/Deposit advice notes

 

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. You can contact the Housing Options service for further advice and assistance.
  • Pay your bills on time, most tenants will have to pay the gas, electricity, water and telephone, in addition 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 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.
  • Give the Landlord the required Notice to end the tenancy, this is usually stipulated in your tenancy agreement.

 Maintaining your tenancy advice notes

 

Your rights and responsibilities as a tenant

The rights of tenants and landlords vary depending upon what type of tenancy agreement exists. It is always a good idea to ask your landlord for a written agreement before you take up a tenancy so you know exactly what is expected from both of you.

Your rights and obligations as a tenant will depend on factors such as whether the landlord lives in the same property as you, how long you have lived there and what type of tenancy you have.

If you are a private tenant you have legal rights; your landlord cannot just throw you out. The law states certain procedures must be followed before a landlord can evict you, and unless your landlord complies with these, you do not have to leave your accommodation.

Even if your landlord has not provided you with a tenancy agreement or a rent book, if you pay rent a contract exists between you and your landlord.

Most landlords of private tenants charge ‘market rents’, which is the amount of money tenants are willing to pay. It may be worth talking to your landlord if they want to increase the rent to try and agree a lower rent in return for not having to re-let the property.

If your landlord keeps turning up at your home, or letting themselves in without your knowledge, they may be guilty of harassment. Even though they own the property they do not have the right to do this. If you believe your landlord is harassing you, Housing Solutions can provide advice and assistance.

As a private tenant you have the responsibility for smaller repairs, whilst your landlord is responsible for the major repairs. If your landlord needs to gain access to carry out repairs, it is your responsibility to let them in, as long as you have been given reasonable notice.

If you are experiencing problems in your private rented property e.g. disrepair, notice that has been served, harassment from the landlord, and have not been successful in sorting the problem out, the Housing Option Team can help to negotiate with the landlord on your behalf.

 Your rights and responsibilities advice notes

 

What is your landlord responsible for?

Your landlord has certain responsibilities

  • From October 2015 all new tenants or those renewing a fixed term must be given a "How to rent" guide. Landlords must always ensure that the booklet provided is the most up to date copy.
  • Most landlords must protect your deposit

Your landlord must protect your tenancy deposit with a UK government-approved deposit protection scheme if you are an assured shorthold tenant. Your landlord must carry out most repairs

Landlords are responsible for most repairs to the exterior or structure of a property. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity in safe working order. Tenants often have responsibility for some minor repairs and maintenance.

Your landlord must meet safety standards, they must:

  • Get a gas safety certificate for every gas appliance they provide
  • Ensure that any necessary work identified by gas engineers is done
  • Ensure furniture meet fire safety standards
  • Ensure electrical equipment provided is safe

Most private landlords are also responsible for installing smoke alarms on each floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors in rooms with a coal fire or wood burning stove.

  • Your landlord must follow the rules on rent

Landlords have to tell their tenants when the rent is to be paid and how it should paid, for example by cash or cheque or into a bank account. They can't refuse to accept the rent from their tenants. Your rent can be increased but only at certain times during the tenancy and only in certain circumstances.

  • Your landlord should not disturb you

Landlords may need access to the property to inspect it and do repairs but they must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference.

Your landlord can't come into your home whenever they want. They should always give you reasonable notice and arrange a suitable time if they need to visit, unless there's an emergency.

  • Your landlord must not harass you

Your landlord, or anyone employed by them, should not harass you in your home or make it difficult for you to stay there. They could do this by entering your home without your permission, visiting at unsuitable times or stopping you from using the water or electricity.

  • Your landlord must serve you with valid notice if they want you to leave

Most landlords must give at least some written notice and get a court order to evict their tenants. If a landlord tries to force a tenant to leave without following the correct procedure they may be carrying out an illegal eviction. This is a criminal offence, which can lead to fines or imprisonment.

What is your landlord responsible for advice notes

 

If your landlord is asking you to leave

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy it can be ended in one of three ways.

  • By mutual agreement;
  • The tenant hands in notice. This usually needs to be one month, in line with the rental payments and not expiring before the end of a fixed term.
  • The landlord serves valid notice on the tenant. The form of the notice will depend on the reason the landlord is asking you to leave.

There are a number of grounds upon which a landlord can serve notice. The most common are:

  • Rent Arrears of least 2 months or 8 weeks rent. 
  • Poor tenancy behaviour
  • Persistently late rent payments.
  • A landlord can serve a section 21 notice without having to give a reason to the tenant.  The notice cannot end prior to the end of a fixed term and cannot take effect until at least six months after you move in.  A valid notice requires that the landlord gives you at least two months’ notice to leave.

You do not have to leave the property once a notice has expired. You have the right to remain in the property until the landlord applies to the court for a Possession Order and a Bailiffs Warrant. You need to be aware that there are costs involved with this and if the issues with the tenancy cannot be resolved, you should look to find alternative accommodation.

If your landlord lives with you and you share living accommodation, you are a licensee and you have very few rights against eviction. You would still be entitled to reasonable notice, usually 28 days but your landlord does not need to get a court order.

If you have been served a notice you should contact the Housing Options team and we can check to see if your notice is valid.

If the Notice is invalid we will contact the Landlord and explain the correct legal procedure of serving a valid Notice.  We can speak to your landlord to see if there is any possibility that you can stay in the property and if there is anything that we can do to help resolve any problems.

If your landlord still wants you to leave we can work with you to help you try and find alternative accommodation.

If your landlord tries to evict you without applying to Court, or does things which make it difficult for you to remain there, such as harasses you, or withdraws essential services such as gas, water or electricity, they may be breaking the law. The council has a power to prosecute landlords who harass tenants. It is important that you contact the Housing Options team if your landlord harasses you or threatens to illegally evict you. See Harassment & Illegal Eviction.

If your landlord is asking you to leave advice notes

 

Harassment and Illegal Eviction

It is a crime for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without using proper procedures. If this happens, you may have a right to claim damages through the court.

What is harassment?

If your landlord keeps turning up at your home, or letting themselves in without your knowledge, they may be guilty of harassment. Even though they own the property they do not have the right to do this. If you believe your landlord is harassing you, Housing Advice can provide you with advice and assistance.

Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave.
Harassment can include:

  • Stopping services, like electricity
  • Withholding keys 
  • Refusing to carry out repairs
  • Anti-social behaviour by a landlord’s agent - e.g. a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems
  • Threats and physical violence

What is illegal eviction?

Your landlord may be guilty of illegal eviction if you:

  • Aren’t given the notice to leave the property that your landlord must give you
  • Find the locks have been changed
  • Are evicted without a court order

Even if your landlord’s property is repossessed by their mortgage lender, the lender must give you a notice period so you can find other accommodation.

If you are experiencing problems in your private rented property the Housing Options Team can help to negotiate with the landlord on your behalf. They can intervene if you are being illegally evicted. You can call them on 01204 335900 or email on housing.options@bolton.gov.uk

If you are experiencing physical abuse or threats you should contact the police.

Harassment and Illegal Eviction advice notes

 

If you are experiencing neighbour nuisance

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 the Housing Options team and we will try to involve an independent service known as Mediation services who will listen to both parties and attempt to resolve informally.

If you are suffering from anti-social behaviour you can contact 01204 336500 to seek further advice as soon as possible. 

You can also report any anti-social behaviour in confidence to 01204 336500.

In the event of an emergency call 999.

If you are experiencing neighbour nuisance advice notes

Housing Options

Bolton Town Hall

Victoria Square

Bolton

BL1 1RU

Telephone 01204 335900
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