Moving into a new rental property may be a new experience for you and a worrying time. We are here to make this a less stressful experience and to help if things get tough!
The housing Options service not only provide support before your tenancy starts, but we also help during your tenancy with our Tenancy Rescue Service.
If you pay a deposit, your landlord or agent must protect it using a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme.
Your landlord must tell you which of the schemes your deposit is registered with. If this information is not provided within 30 days of you giving them the deposit you may be able to claim compensation. More information is available from Shelter and Citizens Advice Bureau.
These schemes will look after your deposit until the end of your tenancy. At the end of your tenancy your landlord may want to make a claim on your deposit if there are damages to the property or rent arrears.
These claims will be handled by the tenancy deposit scheme. They make sure you’ll get your deposit back if you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement, don’t damage the property and pay your rent and bills.
Your landlord must pay you the deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back.
An inventory is a detailed description of the condition of the property and its fixtures and fittings e.g. bathroom suite, kitchen units, white goods, carpets and walls.
You should compare the inventory against the property before you sign the tenancy agreement. If you disagree with what is on the inventory then you should talk to your landlord before you agree to sign the document.
Make sure that any damages you notice are detailed on the inventory. You should only sign when you are happy that the inventory records the true condition of the property.
You should keep a copy of the inventory so that you can check it against the condition of the property when you move out.
Energy Performance Certificates
All landlords and letting agents have to give you a copy of the energy performance certificate (EPC) before they rent the property to you. An EPC will give you information on the energy efficiency of the property i.e. how much it will cost to heat and provide hot water and allow you to compare different properties.
As of 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any private rented sector property to have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Gas and electricity supplies
As soon as possible after you move in you need to find out who supplies your gas and electricity. For gas you can call the Meter Point Administration Service on 0870 608 1524. For electricity you can call Western Power Distribution on 0800 096 3080. Make a note of the supplier and meter reading(s).
If you have a pre-payment meter you will need to order new cards or keys in your own name. If the meter is in debt you will need to let your provider know as soon as possible so that you are not paying the previous tenants debt.
The utility company will need to call round to re-set the meter for you. Your landlord must give you a copy of the Landlords Gas Safety Record when you move into the property.
South West Water will most likely be responsible for your water rates. Your landlord should let you know where the water meter is located (if there is a meter). You should take a note of the meter reading on the first day of your tenancy.
You will need to read the meters again periodically in order to receive accurate bills and at the end of your tenancy before you move out. Make sure you inform the utility companies of your moving out date and new address so the final bill can be sent to you for settlement and will not include for any water used after you move out.
SOUTH WEST WATER: 0344 346 2020
Paying Your Rent
The easiest way to pay your rent is by direct debit, you must make sure that you discuss rent payments and rent due dates with your landlord before you move into a property. Any standing order or direct debit should be set up so that the rent reaches the landlord’s account by the rent due date. Your bank can help you to set up a direct debit so that your rent is paid on the correct date.
If you are applying for housing benefit you must inform East Devon District Council as soon as possible. Do not delay applying! Housing Benefit will normally start from the Monday following the date that you first contacted us to make a claim (as long as you follow up this claim within a month). Housing benefit will be paid four weekly in arrears usually directly into your account.
Ways to make a housing benefit claim:
By calling 01395 517446
By visiting the benefits team at Exmouth Town Hall, Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm Knowle, Sidmouth, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm
If you feel that you are unable to cope with paying the rent and wish for the payment to be made direct to the Landlord, you must contact East Devon District Councils Housing Benefit department and explain why this is difficult for you. The Benefits Department may make payment direct to the Landlord for a short period in order for you to settle into the new accommodation or for longer if needed.
It is your responsibility to make sure that the rent is paid in full and on time. If the housing benefit is paid directly to you and you do not pay the rent to your Landlord, they can ask for it to be paid directly to them once you are six weeks in arrears.
Your Landlord may evict you if you do not pay the rent. If you are evicted for not paying the rent, the Council may find you intentionally homeless.
If you have difficulty paying the rent you should get advice from East Devon District Councils Housing Options Team on 01395 571660
Council Tax Support
To be entitled to Council Tax Support you:
- need to be responsible for paying Council Tax for the home that you live in and
- you and your partner must be on a low income, this could be from benefits, pensions or earnings and
- if you are working age, you or your partner must have total savings of less than £8,000 (working age is below the age to claim Pension Credit) or
- if you are pension age, you or your partner must have total savings of less than £16,000 (pension age is above the age to claim Pension Credit)
Please apply online
Do not delay applying! Council Tax Support will normally start from the Monday following the date that you first contacted us to make a claim (as long as you follow up this claim within a month)
If you are unable to apply online please contact East Devon District Council on 01395 517446 or visit the benefits team at Exmouth Town Hall, Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm and Knowle, Sidmouth, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm
Common Repair Issues
Minor repairs such as changing light bulbs and fuses are your responsibility. Any other disrepair or problems should be reported to your landlord as soon as possible. Do this either by a letter or email and keep a copy.
If you have a repair issue, you must bring it to your Landlord’s attention as soon as possible and give them time to carry out repairs. You should continue to pay your rent whilst waiting for the repairs to be completed. If the repairs take longer than is acceptable you should contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 01395 571572. You must report the problem to your Landlord before calling the team and give your Landlord a chance to complete the repairs.
Condensation and mould
What is condensation?
There is always some moisture in the air, even if you can't see it. If air gets cold, it can't hold all the moisture produced by everyday activities and some of this moisture appears as tiny droplets of water, most noticeable on windows on a cold morning. This is condensation. It can also be seen on mirrors when you have a bath or shower, and on cold surfaces such as tiles or cold walls.
Condensation occurs in cold weather, even when the weather is dry. It doesn’t always leave a tide mark round its edges on walls. If there is a tide mark, this dampness might have another cause, such as water leaking into your home from a plumbing fault, loose roof tiles or rising damp.
Look for condensation in your home. It can appear on or near windows, in corners and, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards. Condensation forms on cold surfaces and places where there is little movement of air.
Problems that can be caused by excessive condensation
Dampness caused by excessive condensation can lead to mould growth on walls and furniture, mildew on clothes and other fabrics and the rotting of wooden window frames. It also discolours mastic seals on UPVC windows and sealants around baths and basins.
Also, damp humid conditions provide an environment in which house dust mites can easily multiply.
First steps against condensation
You will need to take proper steps to deal with condensation, but meanwhile there are some simple things you should do straight away.
Dry your windows and windowsills every morning, as well as surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom that have become wet. Wring out the cloth rather than drying it on a radiator.
First steps against mould growth
First treat the mould already in your home, then deal with the basic problem of condensation to stop mould reappearing.
To kill and remove mould, wipe down or spray walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash that carries a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approval number, and ensure that you follow the instructions for its safe use. These fungicidal washes are often available at local supermarkets. Dry-clean mildewed clothes, and shampoo carpets. Do not try to remove mould by using a brush or vacuum cleaner.
After treatment, redecorate using good-quality fungicidal paint and a fungicidal resistant wall paper paste to help prevent mould recurring. The effect of fungicidal or anti-condensation paint is destroyed if covered with ordinary paint or wallpaper.
But remember: the only lasting cure for severe mould is to get rid of the dampness.
What causes condensation?
There are four main factors that cause condensation:
- Too much moisture being produced in your home
- Not enough ventilation
- Cold surfaces
- The temperature of your home
If you have concerns about mould in your home contact us on 01395 571572
Ending the Tenancy
When you can leave the property depends on whether you have a fixed term or periodic tenancy. If you do not sign a new tenancy at the end of the original fixed term, your tenancy automatically becomes periodic. This means that everything stays the same except you are not tied in for a specific period.
If your Landlord wants you to leave the property for a reason other than rent arrears or the way you have conducted the tenancy, the Council may be able to assist you with finding alternative accommodation. However, if you are being evicted for some reason to do with the way you have conducted the tenancy, you may be found intentionally homeless and be offered only advice and assistance.
Your Landlord will need to serve you with the correct Notice which you should bring down to the Council offices as soon as possible and discuss what your options are. The Notice must be in writing and give you at least two months notice to vacate the property. If you do not have anywhere to go your Landlord cannot make you leave the property without a court order giving them possession of the property.
Your Landlord may give you notice to end the tenancy before the end of the contract if you fail to pay the rent, damage the property or behave in an antisocial way. If you receive a Section 8 Notice informing you that the Landlord intends to take you to court for possession, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. You may be able to negotiate with the Landlord to save the tenancy. Do not ignore this notice as you may lose your home and the Council may find you intentionally homeless.
If you are in a Fixed Term Contract and wish to give notice to your Landlord you should give at least one month’s written notice, to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term. It is common for the fixed term to be 6 months from the tenancy start date, but this can be longer, look at your tenancy agreement to determine how long your tenancy fixed term is for.
If you have a Periodic Tenancy you must give the one month notice on a day when the rent is due. If you do not end your tenancy properly you may still have to pay the rent. If you need to leave the property prior to the end of the tenancy, your Landlord may allow you to go provided there is a tenant who can take over the property, if not you may be liable for the rent until someone can do so.
Useful contact numbers
EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL – HOUSING OPTIONS
For prevention of homelessness
EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL – PRIVATE SECTOR
For issues with the condition of your rental property
EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL – BENEFITS
For housing benefit and council tax support
SOUTH WEST WATER
0344 346 2020
DEVON & SOMERSET FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE
01392 872200 (non-emergency)
0808 800 4444 Shelter
NATIONAL DEBT LINE
0113 4267810 - Nationaldebt
CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU
03454 04 05 06 - citizens advice