Being a tenant brings its own responsibilities, towards your landlord and your property.
Paying the rent
When you sign a tenancy agreement you make a contract with your landlord that in return for the right to occupy your home you pay rent. How much rent and when it is payable should be stated in the tenancy agreement. Rent is normally paid weekly or monthly and payable in advance. If you do not pay the rent your landlord can get a court order to evict you and pay the rent you owe.
If you are having difficulty paying rent you should get advice quickly. This is available from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or contact Shelter free phone 0808 800 4444 or the Shelter Website.
If you are claiming housing benefit to help pay your rent it is important that your claim is kept up to date and you advise the housing benefit section of any changes which may affect your claim straight away. If you don't, your claim may be stopped and then you could fall behind with your rent and face eviction.
If you are having difficulties with your claim or need advice you can contact the housing benefits team. Alternatively you can contact your local Citizens Advise Bureau.
Most private tenants have to pay for electricity, gas, water, telephone, council tax and a TV licence. You tenancy agreement will state which bills you are responsible for. It is important when you move into a property to inform the relevant authorities that you are now responsible for paying the bills and again when you leave a property. If you don't you may end up paying extra charges.
Your landlord will normally be responsible for carrying out repairs to your home. See 'Disrepair in Privately Rented Accommodation'. If there are any items of disrepair then you should tell your landlord straightaway. However, if you or your visitors break or damage something in the property, it will be your responsibility to get it repaired or replaced. If you don't your landlord could be entitled to some or all of your deposit to pay for the works himself. Minor repairs such as changing a light bulb, internal decoration and keeping the property clean are the responsibility of the tenant.
Leaving the property
When you can leave a property depends on whether you have a fixed term or periodic tenancy.
If you have a tenancy agreement for a fixed period e.g. a six-month assured shorthold tenancy you cannot normally leave until the fixed term has ended, unless your tenancy has a break clause, or your landlord agrees. However you can leave on the last date of the fixed term without telling your landlord, but it is best to do so, especially if you have paid a deposit.
If you want to leave the property you should give your landlord a written notice to tell him you are leaving. This must normally be done at least four weeks before you intend to go. How much notice you are required to give should be explained in your tenancy agreement. If you pay your rent monthly then it is important that you give one months notice and this should end on a day when the rent is due. E.g. if you pay your rent on the 1st of the month then the notice will start on this date and end on the last day of the month usually the 30th or 31st. If you do not end your tenancy properly you may still have to pay the rent.
If you require more information on being a tenant then Shelter the housing charity have a very informative website.
Tel: 01304 872 397