Housing Hub Preparing to Rent

When preparing to rent, there are many things to consider including everything from getting your contract checked to making yourself aware of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

But don’t worry, we have lots of useful information to help you out!

Tenancy Rights and Responsibilities

Any tenant living in rented accommodation has certain rights and responsibilities that must be met, so it’s important to know these rights from the onset.

As a tenant, you have the right to:

Live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair

Have your deposit protected and returned

Live in the property

Know who your
landlord is

Challenge excessively high charges

See an Energy Performance Certificate for the property

Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent

Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

If you do not know who your landlord is, write to the person or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can be fined If they do not give you this information within 21 days.

Rights and Responsibilities FAQs

Before you sign a tenancy agreement, it is important to follow certain steps:

  • Always view the property before you sign on the dotted line.
  • If you are renting as a group/in shared accommodation, it is advised that each tenant views the property first.
  • Make sure you view the whole property, inside and outside, and preferably during the day before signing a tenancy agreement.
  • Always read the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement before signing.
  • Do not sign a tenancy agreement under pressure.
  • Check any fees stated in the agreement against the Tenancy Fees Act which states what the landlord can and can’t charge you for.

Always read the terms and conditions before you sign anything.

Community Living at the University of Birmingham has designed a form to self-review your housing contract. So, make sure you check it out.

If you are satisfied, then you can go ahead and sign your housing contract. However, if you need further clarification or advice then you can book an appointment with Community Living or Guild Advice, to clarify clauses that you are unsure about. Please bring a copy of your contract with you.

The housing organisation, Shelter, provides helpful information on their website, and offers advice guides for private tenants and people looking for a home through a private landlord or letting agent.

Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours notice to visit your property and must visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it’s an emergency and they need immediate access to the property.

You must also:

  • Take good care of the property, for example turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather.
  • Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you are in dispute with your landlord.
  • Pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, for example utility bills.
  • Repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends.

Your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you if you do not meet your responsibilities.

Your landlord can take legal action against you if you do not comply with the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement.

For most tenants, there are 3 stages to eviction:

  • Notice
  • Court action
  • Eviction by bailiffs

Your landlord must follow the legal process, otherwise it's an illegal eviction.

If you receive a notice for eviction, please contact Guild Advice straight away.


*On this page we refer to deposits used for Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs). This is not applicable for University Accommodation or if you’re living as a lodger.

When you move into a rental property, you’ll be required to pay an upfront security deposit. This is a refundable sum of money that you pay to your landlord or letting agent before you move in.

This deposit is your money, designed to secure the property and provide the landlord with a financial commitment that you’ll uphold the terms of your tenancy agreement. You should get your deposit back when your tenancy ends, but your landlord could keep some or all of it for missed rent payments or damage to the property.

Deposit FAQs

A tenancy deposit cannot usually be more than 5 weeks' rent.

This limit is for assured shorthold tenants, students in halls of residence, and lodgers, as long as your rent is less than £4,167 a month.

Yes, all deposits should be protected by your landlord.

Your landlord/letting agent must protect your deposit using one of the three authorised deposit protection schemes. Your landlord/letting agency can choose which scheme they protect your deposit in.

If at the end of your tenancy your landlord won’t return your deposit or wishes to make deductions from your deposit, you can contact the scheme’s dispute resolution service to decide how much you get back.

You may be able to get your deposit back from the scheme without going to court if you can't get in touch with your landlord at the end of the tenancy.

When you pay your deposit make sure you get a receipt.

Your landlord or agent has 30 days from when you pay your deposit to:

  • Protect it with an authorised scheme
  • Give you certain written information about the scheme

The deposit must remain protected throughout the tenancy.

If you are unsure whether your deposit is protected you can check on the three authorised deposit protection schemes' websites- Deposit Protection Service (DPS), Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and MyDeposits.

There are penalties for landlords who fail to protect your deposit within the time limits.

If you think that your landlord has not used a Tenancy Deposit Scheme when they should have done, you can make an application to your local county court. The court can order your landlord to:

  • Pay the deposit into a Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s bank account within 14 days or
  • Repay it back to you

The court may also order the landlord to pay you up to 3 times the deposit within 14 days of making the order.

The deposit is your money. Your landlord should provide evidence of their costs if they decide to make deductions. Reasonable deductions could include:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage to the property 

You can challenge deductions if you think they are unreasonable.

Any deductions from a deposit are usually made at the end of a tenancy. Your landlord should provide you with a breakdown in writing of any deductions they wish to make and provide evidence to support them.

It is also possible for landlords to retain the deposit until proof has been provided that all utility bills have been paid, but this intention should be stated in the tenancy agreement.

Landlords can also deduct amounts from deposits for any other financial loss, such as the cost for utilities to be reconnected due to you not paying bills.

If you decide to leave your property before your contract finishes, whether you receive your deposit back early or not depends on certain factors. There may be a term in your tenancy agreement about this procedure. If you are able to find a replacement tenant, then you should receive your deposit back once you leave the property and the new tenant moves in (provided you have not caused any damage and have no rent arrears). However, check your contract for specific details as each tenancy agreement varies.

During your tenancy agreement you should not use your deposit to pay for any rent arrears. You are legally liable to pay the rent up until the end of the tenancy agreement. If you do not, then your landlord could take legal action against you to recover it.

If you cannot agree with the landlord or agent over how much of the deposit should be returned, then you should refer to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme which is protecting your deposit.

If your tenancy has finished and you do not receive your deposit back within 14 days (or period stated on your contract), then you should first write to your landlord respectfully requesting it to be returned. If that does not work, you can contact your deposit protection scheme.

If you only receive part of your deposit back, then your landlord should provide you with reasons as to why deductions have been made including a full breakdown of costs incurred. If they do not, then you should write to your landlord/agent requesting this information along with evidence to support any claims (i.e. receipts).

If your landlord refuses to return your deposit, or if you have been charged for damage that you feel you are not liable for, then it is possible for you to take legal action to claim any amounts owed to you.

Before taking this option, you should try to resolve the dispute informally with your landlord and you should always seek advice before taking the legal route. Where your deposit is protected under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme then your dispute would normally have been resolved before this point using the scheme’s resolution service.

Marks Out Of Tenancy

When preparing to rent a property, it’s beneficial to see what the current tenants have to say about their experience of living there. One of the ways you can do this is by asking them directly, but you can also explore the Marks Out of Tenancy platform.

Marks Out of Tenancy provides students with an opportunity toreview their property, landlord, local area and overall student living experience. So we’d encourage you to have your say to improve the renting experience for others and visit our Marks out of Tenancy page.

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