Rent and tenancy fees
Landlords can make the followings types of charges:
- Premium - A non-returnable sum of money that the landlord can charge simply for giving you the tenancy.
- Deposit - The landlord can charge a returnable deposit of up to two months’ rent. You must to leave the property in the same condition in which it was let to you, allowing for fair wear and tear. When you move in, make a detailed list of all the property’s contents and record its condition. Taking photographs will help. Check the tenancy agreement for circumstances in which your landlord could refuse to return your deposit when you move out. If you have an assured short-hold tenancy your landlord must protect your deposit with one of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes.
- Rent - Money you agree to pay the landlord for the right to live in your home. The amount you pay will depend on your agreement with the landlord and what you can afford. You can get an idea of what rents are being charged locally by looking at the register of determined rents held by the Valuation Office Agency.
- Bills - Find out whether payments for gas, electric, water and phone services are included in the rent or whether you will need to pay the suppliers yourself.
Benefits and help paying rent
If you get Income Support or Job Seekers’ Allowance, or if you are on a low income, you can claim Local Housing Allowance to help you pay your rent. These pay for accommodation only and do not cover charges for heating, lighting, food or care that may be included in your rent. Before agreeing to take on a tenancy you should check the amount of Local Housing Allowance you will get for the size of property you are planning to rent.
Failing to pay rent
It’s your responsibility to pay rent on time. If you pay weekly the landlord must give you a rent book. If you pay fortnightly or monthly make sure you get receipts for payments you make. If you don’t pay the rent, the landlord can start possession proceedings to evict you from the property. You should not withhold rent in an attempt to force the landlord to carry out repairs.
If the landlord does not collect the rent, you should make every effort to pay it. Write to the landlord, saying that you want to pay and keep a copy of the letter. If you try to pay the rent and the landlord refuses to accept it, make sure that you have an independent witness. Keep the rent money in a separate account, so that you can pay it when asked. Then, if the case goes to court, you will be able to show that it was the landlord, not you, who acted wrongly.