Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and even though you don’t own your rented property, is nice to move all your things in and make it your own.
However, it’s important to remember what’s included within your tenancy agreement – this includes understanding what’s within the agreement and what/when you have to pay things by. Making sure you do this at the start will help make sure your tenancy runs as smoothly as possible.
Below is a summary of what you’re responsible for as a tenant:
Don't leave your home empty for long periods
Tell your landlord if you will be leaving your home for any length of time, for example because if you need to go to hospital, or are going away on holiday. The landlord will need to know this for security reasons – plus if you don’t tell them, they might think you've abandoned the property.
Keep up-to-date with your rent
Check your tenancy agreement or ask your landlord to clarify how much your rent is, and what day you’ve agreed to pay it on.
If you ever have problems paying your rent, get advice – your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to offer guidance and information on how to manage your money.
If you claim housing benefit to help pay your rent, you must also keep your claim and personal details up-to-date. If your circumstances change in any way you must let your local housing benefit department know straight away.
Pay your bills and service charges
Most tenants are asked to pay their own bills, such as electricity, gas, water and council tax. Your tenancy agreement will say whether you’re responsible for paying them or they’re included within your rental payments.
You may also have to pay service charges for things like communal cleaning or gardening. Your tenancy agreement will have more information on this.
...make sure you’re aware of what you need to pay and arrange regular payments to you fall into arrears with your supplier(s).
Take care of your home and report repairs
Even though you don’t own the home you’re renting, you still have some responsibilities regarding the upkeep of the property. You should always look after the property as best you can - and avoid causing damage to it or to your neighbours' properties.
Landlords are generally responsible for the repair and maintenance of the exterior and structure of the property, as well as the plumbing, wiring and central heating. They’re also required to ensure gas and electrical appliances comply with safety standards.
As a tenant, you’re responsible for:
- Looking after internal decorations, furniture and equipment. This doesn't include 'fair wear and tear' – if the carpet becomes a little thin, it's fair wear and tear, but if you burn a hole in it, you will probably have to pay for the damage
- Making sure you use safe appliances
- Reporting any repairs needed or other problems you think your landlord should be aware of
- Repairing or replacing items you break or damage that belongs to the landlord, - keep receipts for this, in case there is any dispute at the end of your tenancy
- Disposing of your rubbish properly
- Not breaking any terms in your tenancy agreement regarding smoking, pets and parking for example
- Heating the property adequately, particularly during winter to avoid frozen and burst pipes
- Making sure the property is kept well ventilated, to help avoid condensation and dampness
Your rights as a tenant
As well as responsibilities, you also have a number of rights as a tenant. Below is a list of what you should expect from your landlord, and what information you’re entitled to as part of your tenancy agreement:
- A property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
- A protected deposit that’s returned when the tenancy ends
- Details about who he/she is
- To live in the property undisturbed
- To see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
- Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent. If you feel you’re being charged excessively high fees, feel free to challenge them
- Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years
You can find out more information about renting a home – including yours and your landlord’s rights – by visiting Gov.uk