Before you sign a Tenancy Agreement you need to be think about the costs of moving in such as:

  • Rent and deposit
  • Letting agents or other fees
  • Furniture or other purchases you need to make

References

Most landlords in Newcastle including social landlords will carry out a reference check before offering you a tenancy. Landlords usually request references from:

  • Previous landlords if you have them;
  • Employers if you have a job;
  • College or university if you’re a student;
  • Personal contacts.

Some landlords may also ask for a bank reference and they may pass the charge for this on to you.

Some organisations may also check carry out a criminal record check. If you have any convictions for drugs, anti-social behaviour, damage to a property or offences against a person the landlord can take these into account before deciding whether to offer you a tenancy.

Guarantors

If you can’t provide references or a deposit some landlords will accept a guarantor. A guarantor is another person who the landlord can claim against if you don’t conduct pay your rent or if you damage the property. A guarantor is usually the parent or a close relative of the tenant.

Right to rent checks

The laws says that all landlords must check that a tenant has the right to rent a property in England. Your landlord will need to see a passport or visa or other original acceptable documents before they offering a tenancy.

Paying your rent

Your rent is paid in regular instalments on a weekly or monthly basis and usually in advance. There are different methods you can use to pay your rent:

  • Setting up a Standing Order from your bank account gives you control of your payments but make sure you don’t forget to cancel the Standing Order at the end of your tenancy
  • A Direct Debit will give the landlord more control while protecting you against error or fraud;
  • Some landlords may provide a paying in book to pay your rent into their bank account;
  • Paying by cheques is a safer alternative than cash;
  • If you do choose to pay by cash make sure you receive a signed receipt every time you make a payment.

Rent Books

The law says that your landlord must give you a rent book if your Tenancy Agreement says the rent should be paid weekly or if the rent is actually paid weekly. A rent book that is kept up to date is a good way of recording payments especially if the rent is paid in cash and can be used to resolve any disputes.

Can my rent increase?

If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or and Assured Tenancy your landlord can only increase your rent once a year unless they have your permission to increase it more regularly.

Can I get help with the rent?

If you are struggling to pay your rent there may be benefits available to help if you are unemployed or on a low income.

Getting help to pay your rent

If you get Universal Credit (UC) you can apply for extra help with your housing costs by contacting the DWP.

If you don’t receive UC but you may be able to claim Local Housing Allowance. (LHA) is a government benefit for households on low income that can be used to pay some or all of your rent.

If you think you may be entitled to LHA you should seek independent advice. You will need to know how many rooms you and your household are entitled to and the LHA rate for households of that size in the city. To work out how many rooms you are entitled to you will be asked:

  • How many people live with you
  • How many of these people are couples
  • How many are single adults of 16
  • How many are children over 10 years old and their sex

Once you know the number of rooms you are entitled to and the LHA rate for your area you will be able to work out the maximum* you could be entitled to.

*Remember this does not include deductions for income, non-dependent charges and so on.

Usually UC or LHA this will be paid to you and you will need to make arrangements to pay your landlord.

In some circumstances payments can be made directly to a landlord or letting agent. Contact your local Housing Benefit Section or the Department of Work and Pensions for help.

Deposits

Most private landlords will require a deposit before you move into the property. A deposit is money that is held as a security to make sure the tenant pays their rent and doesn’t damage the property.

Deposits are usually about the same amount as on month’s rent and you will need to pay it at the start of your tenancy. Deposits can cover:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Damaged items
  • Cleaning the property
  • Stolen or missing items

Your Tenancy Agreement should state:

  • The amount of deposit paid
  • Where your deposit has been protected
  • When and why money can be deducted from the deposit
  • When you will get your deposit back

I can’t afford a deposit

If you can’t afford to pay a deposit you may be able to get help from our Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Email can apply for help with this.

Contact Private Rented Service Newcastle by emailing privaterentedservice@newcastle.gov.uk or on 0191 2771438 or for more information.

What is deposit protection?

The law says your landlord must protect your deposit in a government authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

There are three agencies that your landlord can use and two ways to protect the deposit. They must protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it and tell you:

  • Information about the purpose of the deposit
  • Where the money is being held
  • How the deposit is being protected
  • Contact details of the agency protecting the deposit
  • How to apply for your money back at the end of the tenancy
  • What to do if there is a dispute about the deposit at the end of the tenancy

When will I get my deposit back?

At the end of the tenancy your landlord should return the deposit within 10 days. They can ask for deductions for any unpaid rent or damages.

If the landlord wants to make deductions and you disagree the deposit protection scheme will provide a free Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service to help you reach an agreement.

You will be able to explain to the ADR why you think the deposit should be returned to you. You should give also the ADR copies of any supporting evidence such as rent statements or an inventory. Once the ADR have considered the evidence they will make a decision and advise you and your landlord.

What if my landlord hasn’t protected my deposit?

If your landlord doesn’t tell you how your deposit has been protected you should ask them for this information. If they fail to provide it or refuse to protect the deposit you can apply to the County Court.

If you are thinking about applying to the County Court you should consider taking legal advice. You must advise your landlord in writing that you are applying to the Court.

If the Court finds that your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit they can order them to repay you or protect it within 14 days. The Court could also order your landlord to pay you up to three times the amount of the deposit.

Once your landlord has protected your deposit and the tenancy has ended you can use the ADR service if you don’t agree with their decision to keep part or their deposit.

My tenancy has ended and deposit wasn’t protected

If your landlord has not protected your deposit and your tenancy has ended you can apply to the County Court for your deposit to be returned. You will need to provide supporting evidence such as:

  • Your Tenancy Agreement
  • Rent schedule and confirmation of rent paid
  • Evidence of the deposit you paid
  • Evidence that the deposit was not protected
  • An inventory and any photos
  • Letters between you and your landlord.

Before going applying to the County Court you should write to your landlord to advise them that you intend to take court action if the deposit is not returned.

Before applying you should be sure that you want to take court action. Remember your landlord could use this as a chance to make a counter claim against you if they believe that rent arrears or damage was more than the amount of the deposit.