Housing to Rent: Private Rented Sector

What questions should you ask?

There is a good supply of houses and flats to rent in Redcar & Cleveland. These are some of the basic questions to ask before choosing a particular property to rent:
  • How much is the rent?
  • How much is the Council Tax?
  • What does the rent include?
  • Is the rent weekly, monthly or every 4 weeks?
  • Does the rent include the gas, electricity and water?
  • Is furniture included?
  • What condition is the building in?

Where you can find out about a privately rented home?
  • The local newspaper
  • Local free advertiser paper
  • Ask family and friends
  • Look in the Yellow Pages under Letting Agents
  • Estate agents
  • Adverts in local shop windows or the internet

What things you should consider?
If you do decide to rent a property from a private landlord here are a few pointers to think about:
  • Most properties will be rented on a six monthly basis on an 'assured shorthold tenancy'. This means that after this time, the landlord can either renew the agreement or ask you to leave
  • Most landlords will request one months rent in advance as well as one months rent as a deposit against breakages etc. This is often known as a BOND and is usually one months rent: Bond Guarantee Scheme
  • Always view a property before you sign any agreements, to ensure that it is up to and acceptable standard, take a friend or relative to look at the property with you
  • Make sure you are aware of who is responsible for which repairs in the property
  • Always check what other bills you need to pay as well as the rent
  • If there is an inventory (a list of furniture etc. that is part of the property), check that all items listed are in the property and not damaged or broken. If the list does not tally with what is there, make the landlord aware straight away and agree a revised list
  • Always ask for a written tenancy agreement! Read the tenancy agreement and make sure you understand it fully
  • Dont rush into signing anything you dont understand, if you are not sure ask the landlord.
  • Always check that gas and electrical appliances have been checked for safety. Gas appliances should have a gas safety check certificate.

What will be expected of you as an Assured Shorthold tenant?
  • Pay the rent promptly
  • Do not cause any anti-social behaviour
  • Do not cause any damage to furniture, fixtures or fittings belonging to the landlord
  • Allow the landlord access to your accommodation at reasonable times to carry out repairs...etc.
  • If you want to leave the property, you must give the landlord, the required notice period
  • Abide by all the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement

What you can expect from your landlord?
  • Keep the property maintained to an acceptable standard of repair
  • Give you reasonable notice to access property for repairs and maintenance
  • Give you the correct notice period if s/he requires you to leave the property
  • Collect the rent regularly and provide receipts

Do you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy that is coming to an end or do you feel under pressure to leave your home?
  • An Assured Shorthold Tenancy is usually provided for a period of 6 months and your landlord may ask you to leave after this time. There are certain procedures that your landlord must follow before taking possession of your home.
  • The Protection From Eviction Act 1977 gives protection to a broad range of residents (known as residential occupiers) against unlawful eviction or harassment by any person (not limited to the owner of the property) in order to get the occupier to give up occupation of a rented property.
  • Offences often go unreported and/or little action is taken against the offender. This can arise because many people are not aware of the rights and duties of both landlords and tenants.

What can be done to guard against Harassment and Illegal Eviction ?
  • Negotiation: Wherever possible, cases of harassment and illegal eviction should be tackled and resolved by means of negotiation and conciliation. The aim is to achieve win-win situation for both landlord and tenant.
  • Prevention: In many cases, any action to regain possession of a rented property arises through misunderstandings between landlord and tenant. However, in more serious cases there are likely to be concerns about the welfare of the tenant and whether or not there is the potential for someone becoming homeless. Housing Advice & Information Service will be able to provide advice and information about your options.
  • Mediation: Unite, a voluntary mediation service operates within this Borough, and is able to consider referrals concerning landlord/tenant disputes.
  • Intervention: The Council, through the Housing Standards Team, is able to intervene to determine what the circumstances are and to take a more formal approach having first tried to deal with the issues through negotiation and discussion. If negotiations are not successful in defusing a landlord and tenant dispute and preventing harassment and illegal eviction, the threat of prosecution may be appropriate.
  • Civil Remedies:There is a range of different courses of action in civil proceedings in cases involving harassment and eviction since the facts in each case may be so varied.

In practice the main remedies will be for the tenant to:
  • Obtain an injunction to prevent the harassment/breach of 'quiet enjoyment'.
  • It should be possible to obtain an emergency ex parte injunction in a matter of hours.
  • An injunction to reinstate the tenant in his or her accommodation
  • An order for the return of any goods removed and damaged.
  • A committal order for commitment to prison for contempt of court if a landlord disobeys an injunction.
  • Less common courses of action would be for the trespass to land, or to the person, or nuisance.

Tenants should should seek advice from a known legal aid practice, experienced in this area of work. They would apply for legal aid on your behalf.

Criminal Proceedings
  • The Local Authority can prosecute a landlord for offences under the Protection from Eviction Act.
  • Failing this, a tenant could, in principle, take a private prosecution but this very rarely happens as legal aid is not available for such actions.
  • The police can prosecute for offences as well as for the more general offences of possessing offensive weapons, threatening behaviour, assault, breach of the peace, criminal damage, obstructing a police officer, theft or conspiracy.

Liaison between the Housing Teams
  • Both the of the Council's housing teams work closely with one another and are located within the same building. It is essential that the teams maintain close liaison on all cases to ensure unlawful acts are fully investigated and do not pass unnoticed and to prevent homelessness from occurring.
  • The prevention of homelessness remains the primary aim and agreement through negotiation will be sought wherever possible. However some tenants may not feel secure in the property. These views will be respected during an investigation and advice on finding alternative private rented accommodation will be offered in appropriate circumstances.

What to do if a privately rented property is not the standard you would expect
  • If you have any doubt about repairs, bonds, fire safety, health and safety, rent notice periods or any other matters listed above, do not hesitate to contact us:

Housing Standards Team:
Tel: (01287) 612455
E-mail: housing_eho@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk
Fax: (01287) 612463

Housing Advice & Information Service
Tel: (01287) 612444
E-mail: housing_clientservices@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk
Fax: (01642) 771124

Shelter:
Tel: (0808) 8004444

Communities and Local Government Publications
Please refer to the following publications for further information and guidance:

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Last updated:
28/08/2012

Assigned review date:
27/05/2014

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