Renting from a Private Landlord, getting you started
Renting from a Private Landlord, getting you started
After spending the first year in halls many students choose to move onto a house share with their friends. Renting a house or flat with friends is often seen as a essential part of the student experience, and for most a great experience, but there are some essential thing you need to know.
This section looks at some of the key things you should be aware of when renting from a landlord; from deciding where to live to getting ready to leave.
Remember if your unsure about anything or need some advice its always best to ask, you can speak to your Universities or contact us at the Council on (0191) 278 7878.
- Looking for a home
- Setting up a tenancy
- Starting a tenancy
- During a tenancy
- Ending a tenancy
- Dealing with complaints
Remember there is no need to rush to find a property - there are plenty of homes for students in Newcastle.
Agents will often put student houses up for rent months before you'd want to move in. That is because they want to try and let all their properties, but that is their problem, not yours.
Don't feel pressured - Take your time to make sure the home you choose is right for you.
Make sure that the property you choose is:
• in the area of the city you want to live in
• with housemates you are happy to live with every day
Once you sign a tenancy agreement it may be difficult to get out of, so make sure you are happy with it.
Again, the key here is not to rush.
You will be presented with lots of information and asked to pay money for things like deposits and rent in advance.
Once you have paid money and signed documents it might be hard to get out of so make sure you take time to read and understand everything before you commit.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding document, once you have signed it you have agreed to take the tenancy and pay the rent for the length of the tenancy.
The tenancy agreement will let you know what you are responsible for, i.e.
- how much rent to pay and when
- how to report repairs,
- when and where to put out rubbish,
- how to be a good neighbour.
It should also let you know about your rights, i.e.
- who is responsible for repairs,
- where your deposit has been protected,
- how a landlord should agree access for visits.
You should read any agreement carefully before signing it, if in doubt your university will provide a tenancy agreement review service.
If you are sharing with friends it is likely to will sign a joint tenancy agreement.
If you sign a joint tenancy with other tenants all the tenants become jointly and severally liable for the agreement, this means if one person fails to play their part (i.e., they don’t pay their share of the rent) the landlord can ask you to do it.
Most landlords will ask for a deposit upon signing a tenancy agreement.
A deposit is a returnable sum of money that intended to protect the landlord from additional costs incurred by the tenant such as:
- rent arrears,
- extra cleaning or decoration,
- removal of rubbish left behind.
It is not meant to cover things the landlord is already responsible for such as:
- general cleaning or decoration,
The landlord should not ask for a deposit that is more than the value of 5 weeks rent.
The landlord must protect your deposit in one of three government approved deposit protection schemes within 30 days of receiving it.
The landlord must give you information about where the deposit is protected and how to ask for your deposit back; this is called the proscribed information
You can find full guidance online here.
A landlord might ask you to provide a Guarantor.
A Guarantor is someone agrees that they will pay the rent if you don’t. In most case a guarantor will be a parent, guardian or close relative.
The landlord might ask the Guarantor to provide proof of income and/ or a credit check before asking them to sign a Deed of Guarantee.
Your guarantor should read any Deed of Guarantee carefully and understand what they are agreeing to cover. In many cases, like with joint tenancies, your guarantor may be agreeing to cover the entire tenancy, including and periods where the tenancy becomes periodic.
Inventory and sign in
When you move into your new home your landlord should arrange a sign in or start of tenancy meeting.
If you have not already you will sign your new tenancy agreement and the landlord will provide you with keys.
You should use this time to check several things such as;
- take meter readings,
- how should you report repairs,
- how the heating and hot water system works,
- how to test the smoke alarms,
- where to put rubbish and what days the bins are emptied,
- review the inventory.
A good landlord will provide you with a tenant’s pack with as this information in.
Your landlord should leave the inventory with you for a week to record snagging point.
Go over this document carefully, once you are happy with the inventory sign and return it to the landlord keeping a copy for yourself. If you don’t not amend and return the inventory it will be assume correct and you could pay for damage you did not cause.
Keep this copy of the final version of the inventory until the end of the tenancy as you will use this to resolve any disputes.
Being a good neighbour
Newcastle is a great place to live, and Geordies are famous for being friendly. Remember your neighbours will probably work, they may have young children and lead busy lives like yourself.
Be kind to your neighbours and try and keep the noise down. Noise travels and loud TVs and music can be a real nuisance.
If you are planning a party let them know if advance and keep the noise down after 10pm.
Ask guests to wait inside if they are waiting for a taxi.
Putting out rubbish
Make sure you know where your bins are and what day they are collected.
We have a mix of communal and individual bins in Newcastle you can find out all your need to know here.
Recycle as much as you can, find out what can go in the recycle bins in our Recycling A-Z here.
Don’t let the bins mount up, make sure you regular put black bags in your waste bins and put the bins out before each collection.
Don’t forget to bring your bin in once it’s been emptied.
You should report repairs to your landlord or agent as soon as you notice them.
They should give you a preferred telephone or email to use.
Make sure you agree reasonable access for your landlord or their agent to come and carry out the repairs, inspections and maintenance visits.
Your landlord has a responsibility to make sure that they do repairs and keep the home you rent in a good condition. You can find out more about your landlords responsibilities and how to report problems with your landlord here.
Bills and Council Tax
You should always make sure you know who is responsible for bills before you sign a tenancy agreement. This is usually included in the property advert, but you should check all documents carefully.
If you share a tenancy with housemates, and you are responsible for paying the utility bills you should agree how the bills should be split and who is responsible for making sure the payment is made.
If you are a full-time student and you share a property with other full-time students, you may be exempt from paying Council Tax.
You need to let Council Tax know you have moved in and provide a copy of your exemption letter to the Council at the start of the tenancy, for more go to our Council Tax page.
Surrender of tenancy/ leaving early
Once you have signed a tenancy agreement it is legally binding.
If you do not want to take up the tenancy after the agreement has been signed, you will need to talk to your landlord and ask if they will consider letting your out of the agreement. It is important to remember that the landlord does not have to agree to this.
If you are considering subletting your tenancy you should check your tenancy agreement as most tenancy agreements will not allow a sublet. Subletting can have many risks and you should think carefully before doing this, you will be responsible for anything the subtenant does including not paying rent and causing any damages.
End of tenancy checks
You should arrange for the landlord to visit the property before the date you intend to leave.
They should check the property and make you aware of any issues that might affect your deposit.
This will give you time to put any issues right (i.e. cleaning, disposal of rubbish) and help prevent unnecessary deductions from your deposit.
Getting your deposit back
At the end of the tenancy the landlord should return your deposit to you within 10 days.
If they intend to keep part of all the deposit, they should provide you with details of how much and why they intend to keep all or part of the deposit. The landlord can keep all or part of a deposit for;
- unpaid rent,
- removal of rubbish,
- additional cleaning and decoration.
If you do not agree with the deduction, you can get help from the Resolution Team within the scheme your landlord protected your deposit in.
In most cases tenancies end naturally with the tenant leaving at the end of the tenancy.
If a landlord wants the property back and the tenant does not want to leave, they must serve a notice and follow the correct procedure.
The type of tenancy you have and the reason for giving the notice will affect how much notice a landlord must give you and it is best to get advice.
If you get a written notice from a landlord, you can speak to Housing Services at your university, talk to the Private Rented Service with the Council or go to Shelter or CAB for advice.
Reporting a problem with a landlord
Most tenancies go well and landlords in Newcastle pride themselves on providing a professional service, however sometimes things got wrong.
If you are experiencing a problem with your landlord you can contact the Council for help.
If your landlord isn’t doing repairs you should contact Public Health and Regulatory Services on firstname.lastname@example.org
If your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit, is turning up without notice or is harassing you you should contact the Private Rented Service on email@example.com
Deposit protection disputes
If the landlord does not protect your deposit they are in breach of legislation, and you should ask them to either protect the deposit correctly or return it to you.
For guidance on how to do this go to Deposit Protection in our tenants toolkit.
Rent repayment orders
A Rent Repayment Order (RRO) is an order made to the courts by the tenant to ask a landlord to pay back rent paid where the landlord has been in breach of certain legislation. These breaches include:
- using or threatening violence for securing entry
- illegal eviction or harassment
- failure to comply with improvement notice
- failure to comply with prohibition order
- breach of banning order
- managing an unlicensed house in multiple occupation
- managing an unlicensed property that is not classed a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) (House in Multiple Occupation) but is still subject to licence
A tenant can ask the courts to make the landlord pay back rent paid for a property for the period the landlord was in breach of the regulations, tenant have 12 months from the date the offence was committed to apply for a RRO.
You can make a RRO online, go to How to apply for a RRO.
Need more information?
Go to our Private Rented Service website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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