Tenant responsibilities

Find out your main responsibilities when you rent your home from a private landlord.

Pay your rent on time

Rent is usually paid in advance every month or week. You should pay it on time.

If you fall behind with the rent, your landlord can take steps to evict you and claim any money you owe them.

Claim benefits if you need to

Some landlords don't want to rent to tenants getting benefits but you should still claim everything you're entitled to.

In most cases your benefit will be paid direct to you and it's your responsibility to pass the rent on to your landlord. 

Universal credit

Most working age people have to claim universal credit. It takes at least 5 weeks until you get your first payment.

You can ask for a universal credit advance if this leaves you without money to pay rent. This is an interest free loan from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). 

You must report any changes that could affect your claim. You can report changes through your online account.

Housing benefit

You can only make a new claim for housing benefit if any of the following apply:

  • you're pension age
  • you get other benefits which includes a severe disability premium 
  • you're staying in some types of supported or temporary housing 

You can ask for a payment on account if there's a delay in processing your claim.

When you get housing benefit, you must:

  • report any changes to that could affect your claim
  • complete and return any renewal forms sent to you within the time limit

Look after your home

Your landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the exterior and the structure of the property, as well as the plumbing, wiring and heating.

As a tenant you must:

  • report any repairs needed to your landlord
  • make sure your home is well ventilated to help avoid condensation
  • do minor maintenance such as checking smoke alarms and changing light bulbs
  • dispose of your rubbish properly

You must not damage internal decorations, furniture and equipment. You'll have to pay for anything you've broken or damaged.

Allow access for repairs and inspections

You should give your landlord access to your home to see if repairs are needed.  

Your landlord must:

  • give you at least 24 hours' written notice
  • inspect at a reasonable time of day

You should also allow access to tradespeople or engineers if the landlord has arranged repairs or gas safety checks

If your landlord wants access to your home for other reasons, you don't have to let them in unless you want to.

You have the right to live in your home without interference from your landlord. 

Unreasonably frequent inspections or unannounced visits could amount to harassment.

Ask for permission when needed

Check what your tenancy agreement says about landlord's permission.

You will probably need to ask you landlord if you want to:

The landlord often has the right to refuse.

Your agreement may also say you need permission for keeping a pet or parking a caravan on the property.

Put requests to your landlord in writing and keep a copy. Keep copies of any reply.

Take responsibility for behaviour

You can be held responsible for the behaviour of anyone who lives with you or visits you in your home.

Your landlord might take steps to evict you if they receive complaints of noise nuisance or antisocial behaviour from neighbours or other tenants in the property.

Follow rules on smoking

Unless the tenancy agreement says that your property is non-smoking, you are allowed to smoke and allow visitors to smoke in your home.

Smoking is not usually allowed in any parts of the building that are shared with other tenants.

Live in your home

You could lose your tenancy if:

  • it's no longer your main home
  • you rent out your home to someone else while you're away

Tell your landlord if you'll be away from home for more than a month. For example, if you're going into hospital or are caring for someone who lives elsewhere.

Keep paying the rent while you are away

End your tenancy properly

You must end your tenancy properly if you want to move out or you may still be liable for rent. This applies even if you are no longer living there.

It's sometimes possible to end your tenancy immediately or at short notice but only if the landlord agrees. Get their acceptance in writing. This is called a surrender.  

You can always give notice to end a periodic tenancy. You might not be able to do this during a fixed term tenancy unless there's a break clause in the agreement.

A periodic tenancy is one that rolls on usually monthly without a fixed end date.  

A fixed term tenancy has an end date. 

Many fixed term tenancies end automatically if you leave by the last day of the contract but some continue as periodic tenancies unless you give notice.

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Last updated 27 Nov 2019 | © Shelter

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