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Private Renting

How to Find Privately Rented Accommodation

Contact local lettings and estate agents. Numbers can be found in the local telephone directories or in local newspapers. If you are intending to claim Housing Benefit to help pay your rent then you should make this clear from the start as not all landlords will take people on housing benefit.
Local newspapers carry adverts for lettings agencies giving lists of properties available. Also individual landlords advertise their properties or rooms to rent. Most lettings agents will also have a website. If you do not know a website address by using an internet search engine (such as Google or Yahoo) and putting into the search box accommodation to rent and the name of the town or county you wish to live in, this will then give you a list of websites.

If you are looking for a room to rent then there are specialist websites that can help you find this type of accommodation the links below will take you to two of them: 

Click here to go to the Flatmaterooms site
Click here to go to the Sparerooms site

The best papers in this area to look for accommodation are: 

  • The Herts and Essex Observer (Weekly) 
  • The Saffron Walden Weekly News 
  • The Reporter (Weekly) 
  • Dunmow Broadcast (Weekly) 
  • Cambridge Evening News 

You can also find adverts in shop windows or on shop notice boards.


 Deposits and Rent In Advance

Most private landlords before letting a house or a room require a deposit, usually equivalent to one months rent. This money is held as security against any non-payment of rent or any damage to the property. Your landlord should place this deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme and give you a certificate to show that this has been done. (Your landlord cannot serve you a notice to leave the property unless the deposit has been placed in a tenancy deposit scheme) The deposit is refundable and should be returned to you when you leave the property providing all the rent has been paid and that you have not caused any damage to the property or its contents. The costs of any damage or any rent arrears will be deducted from your deposit.

In addition to a deposit some landlords require rent in advance, usually one month. If you cannot afford to pay rent in advance you may be able to get a crisis loan from the

Benefits Agency Social Fund.

A budgeting loan can be paid to people who have been on Income Support for at least 26 weeks and who are considered to be in a high category of need for this. A crisis loan may be paid in an emergency to anyone over 16 and can be used for rent in advance payments. Both loans are interest free but must be repaid.

Also an agent or landlord may ask for an extra fee for drawing up the tenancy agreement and inventory. No financial help is available for this. However agencies can only charge these fees where they have found accommodation for you. It is illegal for an agency to charge for registering with them.

Other useful information may be found via the link below:

►  The Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme


Tenancy Agreements

Your landlord may give you a written tenancy agreement. This will set out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. This will explain what your landlord is responsible for and what your rights and obligations are. For example, how much rent you should pay and when to pay it or how much notice you should give your landlord if you want to leave.

It is important that you keep to all the terms of the agreement; otherwise your landlord could take steps to evict you on the grounds that you have broken one or more of these.

It is the responsibility of your landlord to provide you with a tenancy agreement. Always read through this before signing it and seek advice it there is something you do not understand.
 

Paying Your Rent

Your tenancy agreement should tell how much rent to pay and how often and when you should pay it.
Your landlord should provide you with a rent book if you pay weekly even if you do not pay weekly ask your landlord for a rent book or for a receipt.

►  Help with paying your rent


Inventory

Once you have found a property and have agreed to rent it your landlord or their agent will provide you with an inventory of any furniture or fixtures and fittings. It is important to check through this carefully and that anything like worn carpets or flaking, chipped paintwork is noted so that you are not charged for it at the end of your tenancy.
 

Moving In

Make sure that you read any meters for services such as gas electricity or water when you move in and keep a note of these. You should also contact the Council to register for Council Tax.


Your Rights

As a tenant you are entitled to the following: 

  • Proper notice form your land lord if they want you to leave the property.
  • To remain in the property until you landlord has obtained a possession order from the County Court.
  • 'Quiet enjoyment' of your home, which means you do not have to put up with any unwarranted visits, contact, disturbance or any other form of harassment from your landlord.
  • Reasonable notice (at least 24 hours) from your landlord if he wishes to visit and enter your home. You can deny your landlord access if he has not given you warning of his visit.

If you are not sure whether your landlord is supposed to be doing what he is doing, check with www.citizensadvice.org.uk or your solicitor.

Contact Housing