Many people who are looking for a home to rent either do not want social housing, or do not qualify for it. The main alternative is to look for a home to rent in the private sector. This page sets out some general advice about the type of tenancy you are likely to be offered and the obligations and rights of the landlord and the tenant. A list of Letting Agents who offer homes to rent privately in the Wealden area is also available.
Please be careful when looking for a private rented property particularly when it isn’t though a letting agent to ensure you do not get scammed. For advice on how to avoid getting scammed or to report a scam.
When renting privately you will usually be offered an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is the standard type of tenancy in the private sector and runs for a fixed term, usually six months. At the end of the fixed term, the landlord may offer a new fixed term tenancy at a new rent. In practice many tenancies continue to be renewed over a period of years. The landlord has an automatic right to get the property back, after the fixed term, although s/he must first serve a proper notice and cannot evict the tenant without a court order.
The rent will normally be agreed between the landlord and tenant before the tenancy begins. Once agreed, that rent will apply for the tenancy period.
Help With The Rent
If you cannot afford the rent which you have agreed with your landlord because you are on a limited income, you may be able to get Housing Benefit to cover all or part of the rent. You can obtain more details and an application form from the Housing Benefits team at Make a Benefit Claim.
The landlord will normally be responsible for repairs to the structure and exterior of the property and for maintaining the plumbing and heating fittings. The landlord should also maintain and repair the installations to supply gas, water and electricity. The tenant is responsible for arranging their own home contents insurance.
The landlord may require a deposit plus a month’s rent in advance. The tenant should check whether the deposit is returnable and in what circumstances. If the deposit is not returnable, it is a premium rather than a deposit and may not be lawful. If a deposit is paid, it will be in the interests of the landlord and tenant to draw up and agree an inventory of fittings and furnishings to avoid possible disputes later on about damaged items.
All deposits must be protected under one of the Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes. The landlord must inform the tenant which scheme the deposit is protected in within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Failure by the landlord to protect the deposit means the tenant could claim up to three times the value of the deposit in compensation and could mean that any notice served by the landlord to seek possession of the property would be invalid. You can find out if your deposit has been protected using Shelter’s Deposit Protection Tool (external link).
If you are homeless or about to be made homeless, you may qualify for some assistance with a deposit under the Council’s Letsure Scheme.
The law covering the rights and duties of landlords and tenants is complex and this is only general guidance. If you would like to discuss your situation in more detail, please contact the Housing Options team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01323 443322.
Further advice is available from the Housing Service both for landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities, as well as a directory of useful local contacts for housing advice.