DO check the property thoroughly before signing the tenancy agreement - remember you are signing a legal document for a minimum of a six month period. If you leave your tenancy before this period ends, the landlord can pursue you for any outstanding rent. In other words, if you leave after two months, your landlord can legally go to Court to get you to pay the outstanding four months rent.
DO speak to the landlord at once if you feel any repairs are required before you sign the tenancy agreement and move in. If the landlord will not carry out the repairs before you sign the agreement, look for another property. There are plenty of properties available to rent and you should not settle for second best. Shop around and choose the best property that suits all your needs.
DO inform your landlord of any repairs that need doing during your tenancy. Make a note of the date your told him and what repairs you have asked him to carry out.
DO contact the Housing Enforcement Team on 0191 433 3000 if your landlord will still not carry out repairs. An Environmental Health Officer from the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Team will visit your property and depending on the repairs that need doing, will contact to your landlord about the repairs. If the landlord does not rectify any problems, it may be necessary to serve a legal notice on him to carry out the work.
DO complete your claim form and hand it in straightaway if you wish to claim Housing Benefit. Do this on the day you move in or not later than following day otherwise benefit will not be paid for the first week, which will result immediately in your being in rent arrears. Make sure you hand in all the forms you need to with your claim form. If you do not, this could result in your benefit claim being delayed.
DO inform your current landlord and the Housing Benefit Department (where applicable) as soon as possible if you are leaving a tenancy, you have a legal requirement to do so. If you just leave without giving him notice, he can pursue you for the rent money.
DO respect your property and your neighbours - causing anti-social behaviour could result in you being evicted from your home.
You are entitled to a good clean standard of property with adequate heating - if the property you are viewing does not have this DON’T take it, look at another one.
DON’T stop paying your rent for any reason - you could be evicted and running up rent arrears will be held against you in the future - even if you feel you had a valid reason for doing so. Seek legal advice before stopping any payments.
DON’T throw out rubbish that needs removing into your yard or back lane - contact Environmental Services on (0191) 433 7200 - they normally take it away free. If there is rubbish in the yard when you view the property, make sure the landlord removes it before you sign the tenancy agreement. Once you have signed the agreement you may become responsible for the rubbish removal and any costs involved.
Most importantly, landlords now share a lot of information with each other. Therefore, if you run up rent arrears or are involved in any anti-social behaviour, you may find it very difficult to rent further properties. This could stay with you for a very long time and could result in you being limited in choice as to what properties you can choose to live in. In some instances it may stop you being allowed to rent a property at all.
IF IN ANY DOUBT – PLEASE ASK!
For further information please contact:
Private Rented Sector Team - Tel: 0191 433 6702/6703/6707/6708 (ask for the Tenancy Relations Officers)
Email: (central email address - tba)