What to check for in your tenancy agreement

Rent, bills and council tax

Your contract should say:

  • how much rent to pay

  • how often to pay

  • when to pay your rent

Most tenants pay their rent in advance.

Ask your landlord if you want to change these things.

Example: How to agree a different rent due date

Your tenancy agreement says you have to pay your rent on the 1st of every month.

You ask to start paying on the 15th of the month because that is when you get paid.

Make sure you get any agreement to change the date you pay rent in writing.

Changes to rent

Always check what your agreement says about raising the rent.

Check if your tenancy is for a fixed term. This means your tenancy stays the same for a set amount of time. For example, 6 months or a year.

Your landlord cannot put your rent up during the fixed term unless you agree or your contract has a rent review clause.

Rent review clauses

Check your agreement for words about putting the rent up. These words may mean your agreement has what is called a rent review clause.

Landlords can sometimes raise the rent in a fixed term tenancy if there is a rent review clause.

You need to know if the rent can be raised. It is hard to leave a fixed term tenancy if the rent goes up and you cannot afford it.

Always ask your landlord to explain anything about rent that you do not understand.

Example

Jo started a 6 month fixed term tenancy in June. The rent was £800 a month.

In July, Jo's landlord said the rent would go up to £900 in September.

Jo's agreement does not have a rent review clause. The landlord cannot put the rent up during the fixed term tenancy.

Bills

Most tenants pay their own bills for things like water, gas and electricity. You need to set up your own accounts with water and energy companies.

You are usually responsible for these bills even if your agreement does not say this.

Ask your landlord if you are not sure.

If you live in a shared house and your rent does not include bills, you and your housemates need to decide how to pay.

When bills are part of your rent

If you pay bills as a part of your rent, check your contract for things like:

  • limits on how much energy you can use

  • what happens if you go over these limits

  • if the landlord can increase your rent if energy costs go up

Limits on energy use are sometimes called 'fair usage clauses'. Look for words like that in your contract.

When you are a lodger or live with your landlord, your bills are usually part of your rent.

Council tax

You probably need to pay council tax. This is money you pay to your local council each month for things like rubbish collection.

Contact your council to ask how to set up your account.

You could get help to pay your council tax if you have a low income, or are the only adult in your home.

Your landlord must pay the council tax if you:

  • live in their home with them as a lodger

  • rent a room in a shared house where you all have separate agreements

Ask your landlord to explain who should pay council tax if your contract is not clear.

You could also ask the council tax team at your local council.

Citizens Advice has more on paying council tax.

Last updated: 18 September 2023

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