Tenancy agreements, bonds and rent books
When moving into private rented accommodation, you should be given a tenancy agreement. Read it through first and if you’re not sure of anything, get it checked out first, if you can. It will usually be an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy’ which means you can’t be made to leave in the first six months unless you break the agreement (e.g. don’t pay the rent or damage the property). Even if you’re not given anything in writing, you still have rights. See here about tenants rights and who can give advice if you are having problems with your landlord.
Your landlord must give you a copy of the government guide ‘How to Rent’. Available at www.gov.uk – search for ‘how to rent’.
If you pay a bond/deposit your landlord must be a member of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, which holds the money for you both until the end of the tenancy. The landlord must give you written details of the scheme within 30 days. If you don’t get this, get advice from CAB or Castlegate. More information at shelter.org.uk. If you can’t afford a bond, the landlord may accept a bond guarantee instead from the Council’s Housing Options Team. If you are paying any money by cash or cheque, make sure you get a receipt each time, or get a rent book and have it signed by the landlord whenever you pay rent.
If you move into a house with others, ask the landlord to give you all individual tenancy agreements rather than a joint tenancy, if possible. Put all your names on any gas bills etc., so you are jointly liable.