For most people, renting in the private sector is the best way to find a home. The private rented sector enables households the flexibility to decide where they want to live. You are able to rent anywhere in the Country, however it is important that any home you decide to rent is affordable.
Accessing Private Rented Accommodation
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) sets out the maximum amount of financial assistance you may be able to receive - to find out how much you may be able to receive use the 'entitled to' calculator which will give you an approximate guide. It is always advisable to speak with a benefits professional before you put any money down for a property.
It is also advisable to complete a budget sheet to ensure you include all reasonable living expenses when you assess how much you can afford to rent each month.
Tenant Fees Act 2019
When you are searching for a property to rent, it is important that you are aware that landlords or estate agents are by law only able to ask you for:
- The rent
- A refundable tenancy deposit (capped at no more than five weeks rent where your total annual rent is less than £50,000)
- A refundable holding deposit (to reserve the property) capped at no more than one weeks rent
- Payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50, or reasonable costs incurred if higher
- Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax; and
- A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement.
Visit Tenant Fees Act for more information.
The landlord is entitled to ask for a deposit in accordance with the Tenant Fee Act rules. This deposit needs to be protected in a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days.
In some cases we are able to assist with the funding of a private rental if you are unable to do this yourself, however you must ensure that the rent of the property is affordable. Should you require assistance with the initial costs for a rented property, you will need to be eligible to qualify for the scheme. To qualify, you must have a defined local connection to the Council and have a genuine housing need. In order to find out more, please contact the housing solutions team on 01932 838383.
Section 21 notice
If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), your landlord does not have to give a reason for ending your tenancy. However, if you have not been given the correct information at the start of the tenancy, or if your landlord is not following the correct procedure to end the tenancy, there may be a delay before you need to move. This could buy you important time to find somewhere else to live.
When can a notice be served?
A landlord must wait until 4 months after the tenancy start date before serving a notice asking you to leave. Any Section 21 notice served before then will be invalid.
All Section 21 notices must be in writing and give at least two months' notice to leave. Your contract may specify that a longer notice period should be given in which case, the notice period must comply with the contract.
The notice must be in a specific format and the notice can be completed on a Form 6A. If this form has not been used then the notice must contain exactly the same wording.
Have you been given the right information?
In most cases, your landlord is required to provide you with certain information, including;
- a gas safety certificate (if you have a gas supply to your home)
- an energy performance certificate
- a booklet called 'How to rent' (the version which was current at the time your tenancy started or was renewed)
If you've been served a Section 21 notice and want to seek help from us, you should get all of the information you were given together, including these items if you were given them.
What do I do next?
If you've been served with a notice and you're unable to resolve the problems that has led your landlord to serve you with notice, or you don't believe you will be able to find alternative accommodation by the expiry of your notice, it is important that you seek the help of your local council.
The most common and traditional way of accessing the private lettings market is through the letting agents. Most of their available properties will be advertised online on website such as Rightmove and Zoopla. However, do not just look on here. Our advice is to reach out to all local letting agents and register your interest. They will then be aware of your situation and hopefully call you when suitable properties become available.