Private rented accommodation options are available to everyone over the age of 18 and assistance can be provided in certain circumstances where you are unable to find the rent or bond required. This brief guide is aimed to provide some basic information on finding accommodation and understanding your rights as a tenant. This includes:
- How to find somewhere to live
- Viewing and signing for a tenancy
- Your rights as a private tenant
- Types of tenancies
- Paying your rent
- Need more help or advice
There are many lettings agents in Blaenau Gwent who will be able to help you find a place to live. You can also look in local shop windows and supermarkets for advertisements. The following websites may also be useful in helping you to find accommodation:
Alternatively you can contact local letting agents directly.
All landlords and letting agents in Wales are required by law to register their properties and either be licenced to manage accommodation or have instructed a licenced agent to act on their behalf. It is important to check this before entering into any arrangement and you can check this quickly by visiting the Rent Smart Wales website. This will provide you with the informaiton you need to know about Rent Smart Wales and enable you to check on the property and landlord you are considering letting from.
You may be required to provide rent in advance and a bond. If you have difficulties in finding the money required due to being on a low income then you may qualify for assistance and help from the bond scheme which can be accessed through the homeless team. In some instances the Council may also be able to assist you where you are at risk of being made homeless although assistance will vary depending upon your circumstances.
The following guide on renting from a private landlord will be useful in providing further information.
You should go and see the accommodation and read any associated paperwork before you agree to move in or sign any agreements. Beware of internet 'scams' - and do not give any money up front until you are certain that the letting is a genuine one. If the property is very cheap and seems too good to be true, it probably is! Take a friend with you or let someone know where you are going, not just for safety reasons but also for a second opinion.
It will be important to check the following:
- Doors and windows can be securely locked
- The outside of the property is in good repair - are windows broken or frames rotten?
- The overall condition of the property - is it clean and in an overall good condition?
- Heating, lighting and plumbing are in good working order - Does the heating work? Is there hot water? Does the toilet flush properly?
- The landlord has a valid gas safety certificate for any gas appliances in the property
- A valid Energy Performance Certificate should be provided
- The cost of council tax, water rates and average gas/electricity bills
- If there is furniture present, what is being left and what condition is this in?
You may also wish to consider the location of local services, shops, schools, doctors and other services relevant to your particular circumstances and households needs.
It will also be useful to clarify the following:
- What is included in the rent?
- Where possible, ask existing tenants of the costs of gas, electricity and water
- Find out what the Council Tax charges are
- Are there any service charges? If so, what are they for and hwo much are they?
You will also need to take an inventory. Many landlords provide this to new tenants when they first move in and can be extremely useful evidence of the condition of the property when you move in. If you are not supplied with one then ask your landlord for one. If you still don't receive one, then complete your own and send a copy to your landord.
When compiling an inventory it is essential that you:
- Describe the condition of every item within the property.
- Back it up with photographic/video evidence.
- Take a note of the gas and electric meter readings.
- Get the landlord/agent to agree to and sign the inventory.
- Keep a safe copy of the signed inventory to check against when moving out.
The following private renting checklist will be useful in helping you to make a decision whether a property is right for you.
If you are unsure at all then seek further advice and don't enter into any agreement until you have made further checks and happy to proceed further.
The type of tenancy or licence you have will affect your rights and what happens if you are threatened with eviction. If you need advice about your rights or support to settle disputes with your landlord, seek help right away. You can obtain information and advice from the Council's Homelessness Team.
The guide on renting from a private landlord will also provide you with information on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
You will usually be granted an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) if you rent from a private landlord and your landlord does not reside in the property with you. Tenancies will normally be for six months initially and can usually be extended at the end of the term provided that the landlord wishes to continue to rent the property and is happy with your behaviour during the initial 6 months. You may have less rights if your landlord lives in the property with you and you should seek advice if you are at all unsure about the type of contract that you have or are considering entering into.
If you are sharing a house then you may be asked to sign a joint tenancy or a separate tenancy. If you sign a joint tenancy then you will all be responsible for each other's debts and damages. If you have your own contract then if there are any discrepancies, the argument is between yourself and your agent/landlord and should not involve your housemates.
You will need to make sure that you are able to afford the rent that is charged for any property that you are considering renting. The benefit calculator will help you to assess the amount of help that you may receive towards your rent. This is only an estimate and should only be used as a general guide. If you are unsure then you should seek further advice from appropriate staff at Blaenau Gwent Council who will be able to help you further.
Most private landlords require a deposit and this is generally one months rent although this can be negotiated with some landlords and letting agents. However, any deposit paid must be held in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. These schemes protect your deposit and provide you with the security that your deposit will be returned to you if you manage your tenancy properly. If there is a dispute between you and your landlord at the end of any tenancy then your deposit is protected until any dispute is resolved.
If you need further help or advice then you can contact a member of staff within the Council or seek indepedant advice from Shelter Cymru through contacting 0345 075 5005 or viting the advice pages.