Tenants Guide

Having found the property you want to move into, there are some very important things you need to consider:

  • Can you afford the rent?

  • How much is the deposit?

  • Does the landlord accept housing benefit?

  • How much is the council tax?

  • What bills are you responsible for?

  • Is the property is furnished or unfurnished?

  • Do you need a guarantor?

  • If you are entering into a shared tenancy, could you afford the rent if someone moved out?

  • Do you have pets?

It is important that you read and fully understand your tenancy agreement before you sign it. Please ask us if there is anything you do not understand or contact:

Citizens Advice

Shorthold Tenancy Agreements

Most privately rented properties are let under shorthold tenancies agreements (AST’s). These agreements give tenants the legal right to live in the property for a period of time.

The law gives tenants the rights to:

  • live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair

  • have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends -

  • challenge excessively high charges

  • know who your landlord is

  • live in the property undisturbed

  • see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property

  • be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent

  • have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

Tenant Responsibilities

You must give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access.

You must also:

  • take good care of the property – eg by turning off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather

  • pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord

  • pay other charges as agreed with the landlord - these may include Council Tax or utility bills

  • repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends

  • only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement, or your landlord, allows it

If you don’t fulfil your responsibilities, your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you.

Rent Deposit Schemes

Rent deposits must be protected by one of the 3 government schemes.

Your landlord must provide you with all the information the law requires within 30 days of receiving your deposit, including:

  • the landlord's name and contact details

  • the amount of deposit paid and the address of the tenancy

  • details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme they are using

  • a copy of the deposit protection certificate signed by the landlord

  • information about the purpose of the tenancy deposit protection scheme

  • how to get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy

  • what to do if there is a dispute about the deposit

Landlord’s Responsibilities for Repairs

Landlords are responsible for repairs to:

  • the structure and exterior of the building, such as the walls, roof, external doors and windows

  • sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains

  • heating and hot water

  • all gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation

  • electrical wiring.

The landlord may be responsible for repairing or replacing faulty items or appliances in your home if they were provided to you at the start of your tenancy, for examples fridges and washing machines. Check what your tenancy agreement for details.

Your landlord will probably not be responsible for any appliances you bought yourself.

Tenant’s Responsibilities for Maintenance

As a tenant, you have to use your home in a responsible way.

This includes keeping it reasonably clean, not damaging the property and ensuring that your guests don't either.

Carrying out minor maintenance, for example checking smoke alarm batteries.

Using the heating properly and ensuring flues or vents are unblocked.

Check your tenancy agreement to see if you are responsible for keeping the garden tidy or sharing in the cleaning of communal stairways and halls.

Regardless of your agreement, your landlord is always responsible for major repairs and gas safety.

Damage to the property or the furniture, even if it's accidental, will probably be the tenants responsibility.

This is not the same as causing fair wear and tear to your home, which you should not have to pay for.

It is wise to consider taking out contents insurance.

Tenants are expected to maintain the property by:

  • Keeping it clean

  • Replacing fire alarm batteries

  • Tightening loose screws on doors or cupboards

  • Unblocking domestic sink and toilet blockages.

  • Keeping vents clear

  • Using shower and drying facilities correctly and not allowing condensation to build up mould.

  • Using heating and appliances correctly

It is also the tenants responsibility to inform the landlord or letting agent in a timely fashion should repairs or maintenance be required, in order to prevent inflating repair costs and increasing damage.

Landlord Maintenance Responsibilities are categorised into Emergency, Urgent and Non-Urgent. Please read Priority of Repairs for a full breakdown and timescale of completion requirements.

Please see below for advice on what to do if things do go wrong.

What to do if you notice a water leak

If the leak is from the plumbing/heating system, please contact us immediately on 01707 265049

Turn off your stop tap which is normally found under the kitchen sink then drain the system by turning on the kitchen taps. Try and catch as much water as you can in buckets to prevent further damage.

If water is dripping from upstairs do not turn on lights or electrical appliances on the floor below as they could be affected by water seepage. This could be unseen water so the golden rule is if in doubt, don’t turn it on!

Washing machine or dishwasher leaks

Please switch the machine off and turn the taps at the back of the machine to the off position. Mop up the water and locate where the leak is coming from. If the leak is coming directly from the machine, check and clear filters. If the filters were not blocked, call us.

Roof leaks

Please catch as much water as possible in buckets and call us immediately

Underground water

If you notice water coming up from your basement or drains at the property, please report it at https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/report-a-leak.aspx Please let us know too and confirm that the water company is attending.

Electrics

Please unplug electrical appliances and check your fuse box trip switches, Reset if required. If power is not then restored or there were no tripped switches, check to see if your neighbours have electric. If they do not have power, please call UK Power Networks on 0800 028 0247.

Gas

If you smell gas CALL THE EMERGENCY GAS LINE IMMEDIATELY ON 0800 111 999

  • Opening doors and windows

  • Turning the gas off at the meter unless the meter is located in the cellar/basement

  • Avoiding the use of any naked flames or electrical switches

The Emergency Gas Line will advise you on any further action you must take.

Boiler

Firstly, check the water pressure gauge and that the pilot light is on. Combi-boilers provide instant hot water and heating so check that the pressure gauge is between 1 and 1.5. If the water pressure is below 1 then you need to fill the central heating system with more water. Opening the tap connected to the flexible loop pipe below the boiler usually does this but check your boiler manual first. Once you have let some water through, check the gauge and repeat until the correct level is reached. This doesn’t take long so keep checking. If the pilot light is off, follow the instructions on the boiler flap to restart the pilot light. This may take a few attempts on older boilers.

If this does not work, call us.

Lost keys

If you accidentally lose or misplace your keys or lock yourself out of your property, we keep a spare set at our office which you can collect during office hours. If this happens out of hours or on a Sunday and you urgently need to gain access to your property, you will need to call a locksmith at your own expense.

Please note that spare keys must be replaced at the tenants expense.

Responsibility for Decorations

Tenants are usually responsible for minor repair jobs to the paint and wallpaper in their home. This could include cleaning or painting over a mark on a wall caused by the tenant.

If damage to the decorations in your home was caused by disrepair or damp or are due to normal wear and tear, fixing these will be the landlord's responsibility. You should not have to redecorate before you leave unless your agreement says so or you have damaged the decoration.

Should you wish to decorate your home to your own taste, please check with your landlord first.

You are responsible for not damaging the property, but living in your home will cause normal wear and tear. Landlords shouldn't keep your deposit, or expect you to pay for things that have worn out from normal use.

Residential Tenants Moving in Guide

What to check for when moving into your new home

Although you are all very excited to be moving into your new home, there are a few important things to check before you get too comfortable.

 

General

  1. Have you got a copy of your signed contract?

  2. Have you got an emergency contact number?

 

Cleanliness

  1. Was the house clean on arrival? Your house should have been deep cleaned prior to your arrival but if it wasn’t, take photos and report it to your landlord or agent immediately.

  2. Don’t forget to check things like drains and gutters.

 

Inventory

  1. Check the inventory thoroughly. Report any discrepancies immediately to your landlord or letting  agent.

 

Escape Routes & Safety

  1. Familiarise yourself with the layout of the house and escape routes in an emergency.

  2. Also familiarise yourself with any safety equipment like a fire extinguisher or fire blanket.

  3. Check smoke alarms are functioning.

 

Repairs

  1. Check for any repairs that are required.

  2. If there are, take photos and inform the landlord or agent.

 

Decorating

  1. Is the property in good decorative order.

  2. If not take photos and inform landlord or agent.

 

Utilities

  1. Read gas and electric meters and register yourselves with the gas and electricity companies.

  2. Failure to do so could leave you liable for previous tenants bills.

  3. Locate the water, gas and electric stop taps.

  4. Check the gas safety certificate is with the boiler and in date.

For full details of our Tenant Terms of Business, please click HERE.

 
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