When you find somewhere to rent, you will be asked to sign a Tenancy Agreement – it is a legally binding contract, so you need to understand what you are agreeing to. As with any other legal document, you really need to read the small print and make sure that you can keep to the conditions (rules) of the tenancy.
If you are offered something by the council or a housing association, you can be sure that they are a good landlord and the Tenancy Agreement will be fair, for example, it will include things like
In return, they will agree
Even so, you should still check any special conditions that may be important to you, such as
One of the most important things to check is how much is the rent, how and when will it have to be paid, and are there any other charges – certain service charges may not be covered by housing benefit. If you are renting from the council or a housing association they will be happy to answer your questions and provide advice.
Council tenancies are “Introductory Tenancies” for the first year, which means that if you mess up you can be made to leave. If this happens, it usually means you will find it harder to get another tenancy later. This may not seem very important now, but it is worth thinking about, because in a few years time you may have a family of your own and need a house!
On the other hand, if you keep to the Tenancy Agreement, then after a year you will be a secure tenant and have extra rights to stay longer and make the place your own. Most housing associations also have similar trial tenancies for the first year, until you have proved you are a good tenant.
Private rented tenancies
Most of these are “Assured Shorthold Tenancies”, for six months or twelve months – one thing you will want to know is whether the landlord will be willing to carry on with the tenancy at the end of that time, and if so whether they will charge you a fee for extending the tenancy.