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Housing rights and responsibilities

Tenancy agreements and contracts

  • Tenancy agreements are contracts, meaning that both you and the landlord agree to certain conditions.These usually cover: your rights to stay as a resident; the amount of rent you pay; responsibility for maintenance and repairs to the property and rights of access to the property by the landlord.
  • The landlord should provide you with a contract that includes the monthly rent, the length of the contract and the conditions that both you (the tenant) and the landlord must stick to.
  • Make sure you understand all the terms before you sign - don't be rushed into signing there and then.
  • You should also know the contact details for your landlord.
  • Check what is included in the rent, who is responsible for repairs and bills and what is expected in terms of notice to leave etc.
  • If you rent a room in someone's house and the landlord or their family lives there too, you are classed as renting from a resident landlord.You have fewer rights than if you were renting an independent home, so it's worth getting contract details down in writing in case something goes wrong.

Paying rent and bills

  • To avoid being evicted, pay the rent on time. Ask for a rent book, which can be signed by the landlord as proof of payment; otherwise, make sure you get receipts and keep them in a safe place. If you have a bank account pay your rent from it by check or direct debit as you then have proof of payment.
  • When you move out, the landlord will deduct the cost of any broken or missing items from the deposit - but if everything is as it should be, you should get your full deposit back.
  • If you're a tenant in a bedsit or flatshare, your landlord may pay the bills and pass the cost on to you - so you need to be sure you're being charged the right amount.
  • As soon as you move in, get the landlord to come and read the gas, electricity and (if there is one) water meter with you, write the figures down and keep them in a safe place.

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