Private renting has become the main housing option for most people and is often the quickest way to find a home.
Private landlords offer a wide range of accommodation of different sizes in different locations. If you are on a low income you may be entitled to help towards your rent with Benefits. You can use the entitled to calculator to give you an indication of your likely entitlement to benefits. You can also use the bedroom calculator to work out how many bedrooms your household is eligible for and you will need to be aware of the local housing allowance (LHA) for the size of property you are entitled to. You can check the local housing allowance here.
Properties can be found in letting agents and on websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, Spareroom, Gumtree, Propertywide and Open Rent. (These websites are for information only and not a recommendation from the Council). You can also find them in newspapers, shop windows and sometimes on the informaton boards in major supermarkets.
Agents or landlords may charge a refundable holding deposit (maximum one week's rent), and you normally have to pay a refundable deposit (maxium 5 weeks rent) before moving in. Most landlords rent properties for 6 or 12 months at a time.
If you need to move and you are unable to raise your own deposit you may be eligible for assistance through the Council's Homechoice Plus Scheme. Please read our Private Renting and Rent Deposit Scheme leaflets for more information. You will need to complete a budget sheet and contact us to arrange a housing options appointment.
How to Rent
The government's booklet 'How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England' outlines your rights and responsibilities if you are a private tenant or are considering renting from a private landlord.
The guide covers each stage of the rental process, including:
- what to look out for before renting
- living in a rented home
- if you're asked to leave
- what happens at the end of a tenancy
- what do do if things go wrong
Legal requirements for tenancies
For tenancies issued after 1 October 2015, your landlord must provide:
- an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- a gas safety certificate
- a copy of the government booklet 'How to Rent'
Landlords will not be able to ask you to leave their property under the Section 21 Procedure ('Notice to quit') if they fail to comply with these requirements.
Landlords must register deposits with a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
If you share part of your landlords home, your rights will be different; see further information on renting rooms in someone's home on GOV.UK.
On 20 March 2019 a new law came into force to make sure that rented houses and flats are 'fit for human habitation', which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. Understand your rights under the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act with the GOV.UK guide for tenants.
Reporting concerns about private rented accommodation
We recommend that you report any concerns about the health and safety of your private rented accommodation to your landlord or agent in the first instance. If your home is in need of repairs and your landlord does not arrange for the repairs to be made please report the disrepair here. If your landlord requires access to the property to inspect its condition they should give you at least 24 hours notice in writing and arrange a suitable time to visit.
Harassment and illegal eviction
Whether your landlord can evict you will depend upon the type of tenancy you have and whether the correct procedure has been followed. They may be guilty of illegally evicting or harassing you if they do not follow the relevant procedures. For further information about harassment by a landlord and illegal evictions, including the correct eviction process which should be followed visit Gov.UK and Shelter websites.