Help & advice for private sector tenants
If you are thinking about renting a home in the private sector, it is important that you know your rights as well as the responsibilities you will have. The Government has produced a series of guides to help you understand these rights and responsibilities.
Your landlord must give you a copy of the How to Rent booklet when you sign your tenancy agreement so use the checklist and keep it safe. If your landlord does not do this they will not be able to use the section 21 no fault eviction procedure.
- How to rent: the checklist for renting in England (external link)
- How to rent a safe home (external link)
Your landlord must also check that you are legally entitled to rent a property. This is known as the right to rent check. If you are not a UK national, you can prove your right to rent on line. You can do this on the Gov.uk (external link) website.
If you have a pet, you can ask your landlord to consider offering you a pet friendly tenancy. The Government has produced a model tenancy agreement that your landlord can use. You can view the model agreement on the Gov.uk (external link) website.
Government guidance around renting during covid-19 is changing on a regular basis. You can view the current guidance on the Gov.uk (external link) website.
For the latest guidance around notice periods and evictions please visit Shelter (external link).
Tenant Fees Act 2019
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 brought in a ban on landlords and lettings agents from charging fees for certain things. A tenant or prospective tenant can only be asked to pay:
- the rent
- a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than the equivalent of 5 weeks rent (or 6 weeks rent if the annual rent is more than £50,000)
- a refundable holding deposit to reserve a property, capped at no more than one weeks rent
- payments to change the tenancy where requested by the tenant, capped at no more than £50
- payments associated with the early termination of the tenancy where requested by the tenant
- payments for utilities such as gas, electric, council tax etc
- a fee for late payment of rent
- a fee to replace a lost key or other device required to enable access to the property
It is unlawful for a landlord or agent to charge a fee for anything that is not on this list. If you have been charged a fee for something that is not on this list you should ask for the amount to be refunded. If a letting agent refuses, you can complain to the redress scheme that they belong to. The details of the scheme should be clearly displayed on their website. A redress scheme is an independent dispute resolution service and it is free. You can find more information about the Tenant Fees Act on the Gov.uk (external link) website.
The ban applies to all tenancies from 1 June 2020 irrespective of when they were entered into.
Tenancy deposit protection
Most landlords ask you to pay a tenancy deposit when you sign up to a new tenancy. The deposit must be paid into a Government backed tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDP) within 30 days of you paying it. This has been the law since 6 April 2007. There are currently 3 companies that your deposit can be registered with:
- Deposit Protection Service (external link)
- MyDeposits (external link)
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (external link)
Tenants can check these website to find out if their deposit has been protected.
Once your landlord has received your deposit they have 30 days to tell you:
- the address of the rented property
- how much you have paid
- how the deposit is protected
- the name and contact details of the TDP they have used and its dispute resolution service
- the landlord or lettings agents name and contact details
- the name and contact details of any third party that's paid the deposit
- why they would keep some or all of the deposit
- how to apply to get the deposit back
- what to do if you can't get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy
- what to do if there's a dispute over the deposit
If your landlord has not protected your deposit, you can take them to court. If you win, the landlord will be ordered to pay the deposit back to you and can also order that they pay you up to three times the value of the deposit within 14 days as a fine. Your landlord may also not be able to evict you using the section 21 eviction procedure if your deposit has not been protected. You should seek legal advice if you are considering taking your landlord to court.
You can get more help and advice from:
- Gov.uk (external link)
- Citizens Advice Bureau (external link)
- Solicitor or advice agency (external link)
- Shelter (external link)
Shelter also produce guides on:
- Advice about private renting for tenants (external link)
- Eviction (external link)
- Rent increases (external link)
- Repairs and home safety (external link)
Help with paying your rent
- If you need help paying your rent, you may be able to claim Local Housing Allowance (external link).
The Homelessness Advice and Prevention Team offers an advice service to tenants and landlords of privately rented accommodation to help resolve disputes or queries and prevent illegal evictions. The team can be contacted on 01695 585 222 or 01695 585 223. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com