Permission to rent
Before handing over any money, you should confirm that they are the owner the property, and not scamming you.
You should be careful about scams. Always make sure that anyone claiming to be a landlord or an agent is genuine. There are cases of people renting out properties that they have no connection to or don't even exist.
If you are renting on an estate, or in a former council or housing association flat, make sure your landlord owns the property rather than rents it. It is against the law for a tenant to rent out a council or housing association flat and they could face up to two-years in prison. If you're renting someone else’s council or housing association flat, there is a high risk that your landlord will be evicted, leaving you homeless and unable to recover your rent.
Read about rental fraud on the Action Fraud website.
Does your landlord have permission from their lender?
If your landlord is breaking the terms of their mortgage agreement by letting out their property as a House in Multiple Occupation without permission, they may be at risk of having it repossessed by the mortgage lender. This could make your tenancy less secure.
Should your landlord have a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence?
If you live in a privately-owned shared flat, building converted into flats or bedsits, a shared house, or rent a room in a house – with five or more unrelated people sharing a toilet, bathroom or kitchen – then your landlord must have a HMO licence from the council. Note: There are certain exemptions to these rules and if in doubt seek advice.
The council publishes a register of licensed HMO properties in the borough.
Licences ensure that landlords meet basic standards, including:
- your home is not managed or run by any person or organisation with certain criminal convictions or landlord sanctions;
- your bedroom is a reasonable size;
- your home has enough bathrooms and kitchen facilities;
- your home is managed properly, e.g. maintained, common parts are kept clean, waste removal arrangements;
- your home has fire safety precautions;
- you have a written tenancy agreement;
There are consequences for your landlord should they not have any required licence; and you could apply for up to one year’s rent to be returned to you by the landlord through a Rent Repayment Order. The council can offer advice on this and some private companies and charities that will assist tenants too (although some may charge a fee for doing so).