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Becoming a tenant

Advice on the responsibilities involved in becoming a tenant in a private rented property.

Becoming a tenant in the private rented sector carries several responsibilities.

Questions to ask yourself

When choosing a rented property, ask yourself the following questions:

  • is the heating adequate?
  • is there hot and cold running water?
  • does the toilet flush?
  • are there any signs of pests and or mould growth?
  • are there smoke detectors in place and in working order?
  • is the property secure?
  • do I know my legal rights as a tenant

Before you sign

Before signing your tenancy agreement, take time to think about the following:

  • tenants must pay their rent according to the amount and frequency set out in the tenancy agreement signed by both parties
  • tenants are responsible for council tax payment except where a house is comprised of multiple homes or they belong to an exempted group
  • tenants in self-contained properties will usually be responsible for water rates and payment for utilities like gas, electricity, telephone and television unless otherwise stated in the rental agreement. Make sure you know what you are expected to pay before signing the tenancy agreement
  • it is the landlord's responsibility to chase outstanding utility bills payments during a crossover of tenants. These debts should not be the responsibility of the new tenant
  • make sure you are aware of what is and isn't your responsibility. It should be stated clearly whose responsibility it is for the upkeep and day to day tidiness of communal areas within the property and also in terms of garden or outdoor space
  • make sure you can afford the rent combined with council tax, bills and other expenses
  • ensure you have seen and have had copies of the Energy Performance Certificate, Tenancy Deposit Scheme details, and gas safe certificate
  • carry out an inventory of the property if the landlord has not supplied one. Take photos of the property before you move your belongings in. Take photos of any defects, and a view of each room. This may provide evidence for you in potential disputes
  • ensure you know what the rent includes
  • check what bills you are responsible for, ensure they are detailed clearly in the tenancy agreement