If you rent your house from a private landlord in Gateshead, the council's role is to make sure that the house is of a decent standard - that it is fit, safe and comfortable.
Find out about the general help, advice and support about your tenancy
Find out about the help, advice and services we can give to private landlords
You can enquire about private tenancies at most estate agents and the local press often advertise private property for rent.
Privately Rented Property
A private tenant usually receives an assured shorthold tenancy for six months. This is usually furnished, but can often be unfurnished. You should always check your tenancy agreement carefully as you may be responsible for payment of water rates or other charges. The Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to go through the agreement with you if you need advice before accepting the tenancy.
Rent levels may be higher than council tenancy rents and you will be required to pay a bond to the landlord before they grant you the tenancy.
You will be able to make an application for housing benefit to assist you with the rent payments depending upon your income. The Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help you with this application if required.
If you are renting privately, you have tenancy rights and your landlord has responsibility towards you as their tenant. Knowing the basics may help you keep your property.
Before you move in you should try whenever possible to obtain a written tenancy agreement and a rent card. The landlord is not legally obliged to give you either, but there should be a good reason why the landlord is not providing them.
If you do not share your property with the landlord, they are legally obliged to give you written and signed information about:-
- the date the tenancy starts
- the amount of rent you are expected to pay
- the date the rent is due and frequency of payments
- whether your stay if for a fixed amount of time
- the date the rent is set for review.
If your landlord does not provide this ‘statement of terms’ they have 28 days to provide you with the requested details. If you are having difficulties with this seek advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau, Solicitor or Housing Aid Centre.
Where the landlord provides a tenancy agreement you need to look carefully at the parts about responsibility for repairs and the list of furniture. This way you can prevent future disputes, particularly arguments over returned deposits at the end of your stay.
- Check with your landlord that any gas appliances are checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Your landlord should have written proof that these checks have been made.
- Is the flat warm enough? Does it have central heating or double glazing?
- Is the house in good repair ? Check for areas of dampness, rotten flooring, poor electrical wiring.
- Is there a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in the property? Can you fit your own?
- What is the area like? Has the house been burgled? How many times? Are there window locks?
Before requesting that you leave the property your landlord must serve you with the correct Notice and would, in most cases be required to get a possession order from the County Court. In most cases you don’t have to leave just because you are told to by your landlord or an agent acting on your landlord’s behalf. If in doubt seek advice from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Shelterline to understand your rights and find out exactly what your landlord can and cannot do.
Things to check Before you Sign for the Tenancy:
- Is the bond / deposit refundable?
This is the money you pay to cover damage to the flat or non payment of rent. This could be the same as one month’s rent. Make sure you get a receipt for this payment and it should be returned to you when you leave. It is possible that you may have to pay the first month’s rent in advance
- Are you entitled to housing benefit and do you know how much your rent will be?
Complete a pre tenancy determination form and submit it to the Council’s Housing Benefits Section. They will be able to advise , on your income, how much benefit you are likely to receive if you take the tenancy and how much rent this will leave you responsible for paying.
- Check your tenancy agreement.
Discuss this with your landlord and make sure you both agree on all of the conditions.
- If the landlord says he will fix something before you move in, can he confirm that in writing?
Under a tenancy agreement the landlord must make sure the property is in good repair, with adequate water, gas, electricity, sanitation and heat.
Get the landlord contact details for emergencies. Take as many details as possible, including further contact in case you are unable to contact him or if he is on holiday.
- Are you responsible for gas and electric bills?
Take meter readings on the day you move in.
- Are you insured?
- If applicable, have you informed the Benefits Agency of your new address and your move in date?
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