Keeping your home
If you rent your home
Both you and your landlord have rights and responsibilities. These are listed in the tenancy agreement and it is important that you understand them.
Some of the main ones, which apply regardless of where you live or who your landlord is, are listed below:
- pay the rent on time
- keep the house and any garden clean and tidy
- put the rubbish out as required
- keep your visitors under control
- behave reasonably at all times
- get on with your neighbours
- keep the noise down
- prevent illegal activities (including using drugs) in your home
- avoid dangerous activities
- ask permission to keep a pet if you rent your home. If you do have a pet, keep it under control especially if you share a garden or other common areas
- let the landlord know about damage or repairs required
- answer letters from your landlord
- ask for help if you ever need it from your local Council, Shelter housing support or the South Lakes Citizens Advice.
- to allow you to remain in your house as long as you keep to the rules of the tenancy agreement
- keep the premises in a wind and watertight condition
- keep the drains, gutters and external pipes in good condition
- keep in good condition installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation and water heating
- paint from time to time external doors, windows, gutters and pipes
- carry out necessary repairs, eg blocked toilet, sink or bath, toilet which won't flush, burst pipe, tank or cistern, unsafe electrical socket or fitting, loss of gas or electric supply
Keeping up to date with the rent
You may be able to get Housing Benefit help with paying your rent. Before you take on a tenancy and claim Housing Benefit, you can ask the Council for a pre-tenancy determination if you rent privately.
This will give you the rent figure which will be used to work out your Housing Benefit. However, the pre-tenancy determination does not guarantee that you will get Housing Benefit or tell you the amount you will get.
You should remember that your Housing Benefit can be reduced for a number of reasons. Examples include the rent being charged above normal market rents and the property being too big for your needs. If you are single and under 25 years of age, Housing Benefit will only cover rent up to the cost of shared accommodation in the private rented sector.
If you rent from the Council or a Housing Association ask your local Housing Officer for a Housing Benefit application form.
A couple more things to remember. Housing Benefit cannot be backdated that means your Council will only pay benefit from the day it receives your form, so don't delay sending your form in if you need help with your rent.
You will need to keep the Council informed of any changes to your personal circumstances such as:
- getting a new job
- your wage changes
- a friend or partner moves in with you
- you take on a lodger
If you stop paying your rent or if your Housing Benefit is stopped and arrears build up, your landlord can get a Court Order to evict you from your home. In most cases the Courts cannot refuse to grant the landlord an Eviction Order, so you should make sure your rent is kept up to date at all times.
As soon as you run into a problem paying your rent get help straight away from your Council or Citizens Advice Bureau.
Altering or decorating your rented home
In a private rented property, you must obtain permission from the landlord or letting agent before you decorate or make an alteration to the property in any way.
In a Council or Housing Association home, you can generally decorate the inside as you wish but you still must ask permission to make any alterations to the building, such as changing kitchen units or knocking in new doorways between rooms.
There are laws to protect you from harassment. This includes racial abuse, threats of violence from neighbours or a partner, or even grief from your landlord. Don't hesitate to call the police if you need to.
The Council can also help provide advice and may even prosecute a private landlord for harassment.
If you feel that you are being unfairly treated, or not getting repairs attended to as required you can contact your Council, the Citizen's Advice Bureau or Shelter for advice.