It is important you understand the responsibilities listed in your tenancy agreement. If you breach your agreement, your landlord may take steps to evict you.
Paying your rent on time
Your tenancy agreement should state the rental amount and how and when your rent should be paid. This will usually be in advance and monthly.
If you fall behind with paying the rent you should speak to your landlord as soon as possible.
Important: Your landlord could take steps to evict you and go to court to claim for any missed rent.
Paying the bills
You may be responsible for paying some or all of the bills for the property, these include:
- TV licence
- council tax.
Check your tenancy agreement to see what bills you are responsible for. If you're arranging bills through an external provider, you may be required to inform your landlord if you're switching providers.
Tip: You might want to set up a joint account for bills and get all housemates to set up a standing order so there isn’t pressure on one person to collect money. This helps to split costs equally and manage your monthly payments as a household.
In some cases, rent includes bills, but you may still be asked to only use a limited amount of energy, water or broadband data. If you go over this you may be charged, although the landlord isn't allowed to charge in excess of the cost of the bill. Check your tenancy agreement for terms such as 'fair usage' or similar.
If you've arranged bills through an external provider, check your utilities contract for these terms.
Important: If you do not pay the bills, services may be cut off and you will be charged to reconnect them. This will also affect your credit rating. If you are having difficulty paying your bills, get in touch with the utility company as soon as possible. They may be able to set you up on a payment plan.
As a tenant you are responsible for looking after your property. This involves notifying your landlord of any repairs or damage to your home.
Maintenance and repairs
Your landlord is responsible for repairs including:
- utilities such as electrical wiring/appliances and the supply of gas, water and suitable drainage
- boilers, heating and hot water and providing adequate ventilation
- common areas including entrance halls, stairways and bathrooms
- the structure and exterior of the building, including walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows.
Tip: Use the Shelter letter templates to help sort out housing problems with your letting agent or landlord.
Your landlord must ensure your home is fit for habitation throughout your tenancy.
You are responsible for:
- keeping your house reasonably clean and tidy both inside and out, including keeping gardens or outside areas in a reasonable state
- small repairs such as changing smoke alarm batteries or light bulbs
- checking the electrical safety of any electrical appliances you bring to the property
- heating and ventilating your home properly
- disposing of rubbish correctly
- avoiding causing any damage.
If your actions or the actions of guests result in damage to your home or your landlord’s property you may be required to pay for repairs or have money deducted from your deposit.
Important: Your tenancy agreement may state that your property will be your main home, so you should not leave your home empty for long periods of time – your landlord might think you have left the property for good.
Check how to report repairs by looking at your tenancy agreement or contacting your agent or landlord.
Tip: Your landlord should be able to provide you with a list of contacts for out-of-hours emergencies. Check your tenancy agreement, or ask your agent or landlord in writing.
You should be able to report repairs over the phone or in writing. Some agents ask tenants to report repairs via a form on their website. If you do this, make sure you keep a record of when you submitted the form, and the repair you requested.
If you report a repair over the phone or in person, you should always follow up with an email so you have evidence of what was reported. It is important to check your landlord is responsible for the repair before reporting it.
Tip: Report a repair as soon as you can, if any damage due to the repair gets worse, you may be responsible for this if you failed to report the initial repair request.
Give your landlord or letting agent time to do any repairs to your property. Timescales can depend on how serious the problem is, but as a guide expect:
- emergency repairs within 24 hours: this includes repairs that are a danger to you or your safety, damage to the building or anything that could damage residents’ belongings (for example, gas appliances, boilers, broken toilets, external door locks)
- urgent repairs within five working days: this includes repairs that affect your comfort or convenience (for example, leaking roofs, rodent infestations or damage to windows)
- non-urgent day-to-day repairs within 28 days: this includes repairs to things such as guttering or replacing window frames.
What to do if repairs aren’t completed
If your landlord or letting agent does not repair damages there are steps you can take to ensure they do, such as:
- keeping records – take pictures of any damage to your home and belongings and keep copies of all emails, texts and letters sent between yourself and your landlord
- chase up your letting agent/landlord – continually remind your landlord or letting agent that repairs haven’t been carried out. If your letting agent isn’t replying to your emails contact your landlord directly
- contact the council – if your landlord or lettings agent are continually ignoring your requests for repairs you can contact the Private Sector Team to ask for help
- legal action – you could consider taking legal action against your landlord. We recommend seeking independent legal advice such as Citizens Advice
- submit a complaint with your agent’s redress scheme – they may be able to instruct the agent to pay compensation if processes have not been followed properly.
Find out more about what to do if your landlord will not to do repairs.
Important: Never withhold your rent to get your landlord to do repair work to your home. This could lead to them seeking to evict you from the property and cause complications with references when you try to rent in future.
Your landlord must have building insurance for your property. If your house is furnished your landlord may also have insurance for their furniture and kitchen appliances.
Your belongings won’t be covered by your landlord’s insurance so you may wish to get contents insurance, although this is not a requirement. Find out more about tenants contents insurance.
You should behave considerately towards everyone, including your housemates, neighbours and visitors to the property. Antisocial behaviour can include:
- having the TV on too loudly or playing loud music, especially when windows and doors are open
- not disposing of rubbish correctly
- making noise outside of your property, for example in the garden
- making noise when entering or leaving the property, for example arriving home late at night
- using your home for illegal activities, such as drug dealing or drug taking
- behaving aggressively towards housemates, neighbours and visitors.
You are also responsible for the behaviour of your visitors. Problems with housemates can arise in shared households, following advice and guidance can help with resolving issues.
Communicating with your landlord
You should ask your landlord for permission if you want to make any changes to the house, such as decorating.
If your landlord wants to visit the property, for example to carry out repairs, they need to give you at least 24 hours notice (except in emergencies) and visit during reasonable hours of the day.
If you find the landlord (or anyone sent on their behalf) tries to visit without giving notice and it is not an emergency, you are within your rights to refuse entry. If this happens regularly, you should contact your landlord in writing to reiterate the terms of your tenancy agreement.