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.
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.
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.
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