When you rent a property, it is very important that you understand the obligations placed on you as a tenant. Most of the responsibilities will be set out in the tenancy agreement and some are implied by law. Before you sign the tenancy agreement, it is essential that you make sure that you fully understand it.
You must use the property in a “tenant like way” and if you breach any of your responsibilities, you could put at risk your right to stay at the property and your deposit. Remember, every tenancy agreement is different and contains restrictions and obligations that are specific to the property you are renting. When you are issued with a new tenancy agreement you should always take the time to familiarise yourself with it.
The following list covers some of the most important responsibilities and obligations that are placed on tenants either through the tenancy agreement or implied by law;
- Pay the rent – you should make sure that you always pay the rent on time otherwise your landlord can take action to evict you from your home.
- Pay all bills – as the occupier of the property and under the terms of your tenancy agreement, you will generally be responsible for council tax, all utilities and TV licence. You must pay these bills on time and, when you leave the property at the end of the tenancy, you should ensure that all bills are fully paid up until the date of your departure.
- Housing benefit and universal credit – If you claim housing benefit or universal credit to help pay the rent, you must keep the claim upto date and advise the council of any change of circumstances that could affect your claim.
- Not to cause a nuisance – you must not act in a way that is considered antisocial or creates a nuisance for any neighbour or for the landlord. As the tenant, you will be responsible for the behaviour of anyone that visits your property.
- Provide access - you must allow access to your landlord to carry out repairs and maintenance and to conduct necessary safety checks such as gas safety. Your landlord must give you reasonable notice before they enter the property.
- Keep the home well ventilated – if you do not properly ventilate your home then it could suffer from mould or damp. As the occupier of the property you need to keep it properly ventilated by running extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms and opening windows. This is particularly important where you are drying clothes inside the property.
- Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working – your landlord has a duty to ensure there are a sufficient number of alarms and that they are in working order at the start of the tenancy. As the occupier of the property, you have a duty to ensure that they remain working, that you test them regularly and that where necessary, you change any batteries.
- Change light bulbs – your landlord is responsible for most repairs and maintenance, however you will be expected to undertake minor repairs such as changing light bulbs or fuses.
- Advise the landlord of any maintenance or repairs – the landlord is responsible for maintaining and repairing the property, however you are required to inform the landlord of anything that needs repair as soon as you become aware of it.
- Use the property in a tenant like manner – you should keep the property clean and use any fixtures that come with the property (eg sinks and toilets) in an appropriate manner. You should not do anything that would cause the toilet or plumbing to become blocked. You should also dispose of all rubbish appropriately. You should understand (and your landlord should explain to you) how to use any appliances, including the boiler. You should also understand how to turn off the water stop cock and gas mains in the event of an emergency.
- Not make any changes to the property – you should not make any changes to the decorative condition or the structure of the property without your landlords permission. If your landlord does provide permission and you make changes, it is likely that you will have to put the property back to its original condition at the end of the tenancy.
- Not take in a lodger or sub tenant – you should allow anyone to live at the property who is not named on the tenancy agreement. If you do want somebody else to move into the property, you should contact the landlord for permission.
- Not to smoke – you should not smoke at the property or allow guests to smoke unless the tenancy agreement specifically allows for it. You should be aware that smoking in the public areas of blocks of flats is a criminal offence.
- Not to keep a pet – you should not keep a pet at the property unless your tenancy agreement specifically allows for it.
- Garden – where there is a garden, you will generally be responsible for maintaining it, unless the tenancy agreement specifies otherwise.
- Insurance – the landlord is responsible for insuring the property however, this will not generally cover any of your personal belongings. If you want your personal items insured, then you will need to take out appropriate contents insurance coverage.
- Leasehold property – if you rent a leasehold property, your tenancy agreement might contain further restrictions and obligations to ensure that you act in accordance with your landlords long lease.
- Periods of absence – you should advise your landlord it you plan to be away from the property for prolonged periods – for example more than two weeks. If you do intend to leave the property vacant for a prolonged period, you should ensure that it is adequately secured and you should consider turning off the water at the stop cock.
- End your tenancy properly – you must end your tenancy in accordance with your contract and you must pay the rent up until the date that the tenancy legally ends. It might be possible to end your tenancy at a date earlier than provided for in the contract, but you will need your landlords agreement to this.
- Leave the property in the condition that you found it – you must leave the property in the same condition that you found it (with a reasonable allowance for wear and tear). If you have damaged or broken anything at the property, then you must repair or replace it. If you have made any decorative or other changes to the property then these must be put back to original condition before you leave.
We hope you found the above useful but please remember that you MUST read your tenancy agreement. At Aspire Residential we want you to be safe and comfortable in your home and, if you have any questions about the property, the tenancy agreement or your obligations as a tenant, then please give us a call. We are here to help.