Top tips for ensuring your tenancy runs smoothly
The following simple suggestions should help ensure your stay in your rented property is as stress and hassle-free as possible:
Being a good tenant
It really is beneficial to form a good working relationship with your landlord or agent. All parties involved have responsibilities, which when adhered to will help the tenancy runs smoothly. To find out more about what your responsibilities are, and what you can expect from your landlord or letting agent, please refer to the government website here, as well as their 'How To Rent' guide here.
Being a good housemate
To help things run more smoothly, if you are moving into a shared house sit down with your housemates and agree some basic rules for living together, for example; cleaning rotas, whether to share basic foodstuffs (milk, bread etc) or buy them individually, who should be responsible for collecting money and making payments for shared bills (gas, electric etc), and whether you want an agreement on overnight visits by friends, late night noise etc.
Being a good neighbour
Introduce yourselves when you move into your new property. Offer to exchange contact details, in case or emergencies or any issues arise. Creating a good relationship with your neighbours and having a mutual respect will result in a much better experience for everyone involved.
Confine noise to reasonable hours, and give plenty of warning to your neighbours prior to holding any parties. Don’t let your garden grow out of control, or become a dumping ground for junk.
If you are having any problems with your neighbour please contact the Council's environmental health team here. If your suspect you neighbours are students you can contact the relevant department at the University of Sussex or the University of Brighton. (add links to the relevant teams).
You can find out when your rubbish collection & recycling days are on the council website here. Some streets in Brighton and Hove have large communal bins on the street, others are collected on a specific day, so find out as soon as you move in. It's important you don't leave rubbish bags out on the street, they will quickly be torn over and the contents spread around the neighbourhood by seagulls and foxes!
It is a good idea to take out contents insurance. Your landlord won’t reimburse you for any theft or damage to your items. The landlord will only have insurance for the building and his own goods within the property. Some policies also offer you accidental damage to the landlord's property, which is useful to have in case such as a burn/stain on the carpet, or cracked a sink; you may find it cheaper to claim on your insurance than to pay for it our of your deposit.
Save Money & Energy
If you’ve never paid gas or electric bills before, you may be surprised by how expensive they can be if you are not reasonably careful. Visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk for some handy hinds about how to keep bills to a minimum—and do the environment a good turn in the process.
You could also have a look at www.moneysavingexpert.com for some useful general money-saving tips.
If you think you are paying too much for your bills you can do a quick and easy comparison (and switch supplier) with www.myutilitygenius.co.uk.
However, be aware that simply turning the heating off is not the answer. Part of your obligation as the tenant is to maintain the condition of the property, and letting a property get too cold can create unnecessary condensation and mould problems, which you would then be responsible for resolving. Mould in your property is also bad for your health. It is much better to keep your property at a steady warm temperature during cold periods. More information on mould prevention can be found here (link to damp & condensation guide- in drive)
You should have received a Gas Safety Certificate when moving into the property, if you have gas central heating or other gas supplies. The boiler should be checked yearly, so make a note of when the current certificate expires to ensure that your landlord or letting agent carries this out.
If you have smoke alarms, or carbon monoxide alarms in your property, make sure you check them regularly and change the batteries if and when needed. Never remove them.
For more information on staying safe in your home the government have created a 'How to Rent a Safe Home' guide for tenants here.
Repairs should be carried out in a 'reasonable' time frame. There is no set time frame as such for various repairs, but 'reasonable' can be dictated by how urgent the repair is. For example emergencies such as loss of electricity, loss heating in winter, or a loss of hot water should all be responded to within 24-48 hours of you notifying your landlord or letting agent. Not all repairs can be fixed instantly, but your landlord is obligated to respond and get the repair completed as quickly as possible. Other non urgent repairs such as a drippy tap could take much longer to repair. We recommend you keep all correspondence about repairs in writing. If you have spoken by phone, follow it up with an email confirming what was discussed and agreed on the phone. If you are not happy with how quickly repairs are being dealt with, or if they are not done, you can contact the Council's Private Sector Housing team for advice. If the letting agency is at fault, you can contact the ombudsman scheme they belong to to make a formal complaint (the agency website should detail which ombudsman scheme are members). The Shelter website also offer advice on repairs during your tenancy, and what to do if they are not carried out here. As do the Citizens Advice Bureau here.
Brighton Housing Trust, Tel. 01273 234737
Citizens Advice Bureau, Tel. 01273 223951
Shelter Tel. 0808 800 4444. Or for the Community Legal Advice helpline call 0845 345 4 345
Sussex University students can call the Student Union run letting agency Sussex Student Lettings on 01273 678787, or the University Housing Team on 01273 678220, or visit both offices on Falmer campus.
Brighton University students can call the Accommodation Office on 01273 644100 or you can visit them at the Moulsecoomb campus.
The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) 01722 333306
Ombudsman Services 0330 440 1634
The Property Redress Scheme 0333 321 9418
Here are some sources of helpful information on issues that can arise when you begin a new tenancy.