Why rent privately

The private rented sector is expanding, which means there are more and more properties available in a wider range of areas.

Find a home to rent with a private landlord

Set up a tenancy

Tenancy agreements
A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and a landlord. It lets you live in a property as long as you pay rent and follow the rules. It also sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy. It can be written down or spoken.

The most common form of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Find out about Assured Shorthold Tenancies and other types of tenancy agreements at GOV.UK private renting tenancy agreements Go to https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements (opens new window).

You can also read about pdf joint tenancies (44 KB) .

Amount of rent you should pay
The amount of rent charged will depend on the type, location and condition of the property. You should agree the rent with the landlord before signing the tenancy agreement. To see if the amount is reasonable:

  • check other similar properties in the area
  • find out if the amount charged includes tax, water rates, gas and electric

Before agreeing to take on a property, make sure you it suits your needs and you can afford the rent and bills.

If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Go to https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements/tenancy-types (opens new window) (GOV.UK), your landlord must protect your deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme Go to https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection (opens new window) (GOV.UK).

The scheme helps make sure you get your deposit back if you

  • meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • don't damage the property
  • pay your rent and bills

Landlord or letting agents are only allowed to certain fees when you set up or renew a tenancy.

Find out:

Your landlord's responsibilities

Your landlord is responsible for repairs to:

  • the structure and exterior of your home
  • sinks, baths and toilets and their pipework
  • the heating and hot water
  • gas appliances provided by them
  • electrical wiring
  • chimneys and ventilation
  • any damage they cause by attempting repairs

Gas safety
Your landlord must:

  • make sure that any gas equipment they supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You can check if an engineer is registered by looking at their ID card
  • arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out at least once a year, by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • give you a copy of the gas safety check record before you move in or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety
Your landlord must make sure the property's electrical installation is safe. They must:

  • have it inspected at least every 5 years 
  • give you a copy of the inspection report
  • fix anything that's unsafe within 28 days of the report

Read the full guidance for electrical safety standards on GOV.UK.

Your landlord must make sure any appliances they provide are safe.

Fire safety
Your landlord must:

  • follow safety regulations
  • make sure all the furniture and fittings they provide are fire safe
  • provide at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the property used for living accommodation
  • provide a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms where solid fuel is burnt, such as in a fireplace or woodburner
  • carry out a written risk assessment and take any action necessary, if your property is a licensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Energy performance
If you rent a whole house or flat, your landlord has to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before you move in. This shows you how energy efficient the property is. Properties are rated from A to G, A being the most efficient. Finding a more efficient property could help you save money on your fuel bills.

Since April 2018, a property must have a rating of at least E before a tenancy can start or be renewed. After 1 April 2020, this will apply to all privately rented properties, even if the tenancy hasn't changed. You can tell us about a property with an EPC rating lower than E.

Licences for rented properties

Some rented houses and flats need a licence before they can be let out by the landlord. This is to make sure they meet the required standards of health, safety and welfare for the people living there.

Licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
A licensable HMO has:

  • five or more people living in the property, from two or more families or households
  • shared facilities, such as toilets, bathrooms or kitchens

Property licensing
We also require landlords in certain areas to have an Additional or Selective licence. This is so we can make sure landlords are managing their properties and tenants adequately. See our Property licences for more information.

Report an unlicensed property
If you think the property you live in should have a property licence, but doesn't, let us know.

Report an unlicensed property

If we successfully prosecute your landlord for not having the right property licence, you may be able to reclaim some of your rent. This would be through one of the Government's Housing Tribunals. Guidance is available on GOV.UK housing tribunals Go to https://www.gov.uk/housing-tribunals (opens new window).

Your rights and responsibilities

As a tenant you have the right to:

  • know the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • know your landlord's name and address
  • live in a property that's safe and in a good state of repair
  • 24 hours' notice if the landlord wants to visit your property
  • notice if your landlord wants you to leave the property altogether

As a tenant you have certain responsibilities:

  • pay your bills and rent on time
  • report repairs to your landlord as soon as possible
  • don't deliberately cause damage to the property
  • don't make any changes to the property without your landlord's permission
  • take care of the garden, if the tenancy agreement says it's your responsibility
  • make sure your guests don't break your tenancy agreement
  • don't make a lot of noise
Rent increases

Your tenancy agreement should include how and when the rent will be reviewed. If it does your landlord must follow it.

If it doesn't and you have a fixed term tenancy, your rent can't be increased during the tenancy unless it's agreed by both you and the landlord. At the end of the tenancy the landlord can propose a different rent and you can then decide whether to renew or not.

If you have a periodic or rolling tenancy, on a week to week or month to month basis, your landlord can't normally increase your rent more than once a year without your agreement.

Resident Landlords
If your landlord lives in the property with you, you don't have the same rights when it comes to rent increases.

To increase your rent, your landlord must give you notice in writing. The notice period must be at least as long as how often you pay rent and no less than 28 days. For example, if you pay rent on a monthly basis, the notice must be at least a month.

There is no restriction on how often a resident landlord can increase your rent. However, if you're claiming housing benefit whilst living there you won't be able to apply for an increase in benefit within a year of the last increase or since the rent was agreed at the start of the tenancy.

More information about rent increases can be found on GOV.UK rent increases Go to https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/rent-increases (opens new window).

You can also read about:

Rent arrears

Your landlord can evict you if you fall behind with your rent. Don't ignore the problem. Make sure to read any letters you receive from your landlord, they may contain information about the action they plan to take.

Our money advice page may be able to help you and you could use our benefits calculator Go to http://www.bristol.entitledto.co.uk (opens new window) to see if you're entitled to housing benefit or a reduction in council tax.

You can also get advice from:

Ending the tenancy

A tenancy will continue until you or your landlord ends it. If you want to end your tenancy make sure you give the correct notice to the landlord. If you don't do this your landlord may make a deduction from your deposit and claim for loss of rent.

Information about ending your tenancy and the process your landlord must follow if they want to end your tenancy is available at GOV.UK: private renting for tenants Go to https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements (opens new window).

When moving out:

  • make sure the property is left clean and tidy
  • clean fixtures and fittings, such as the cooker and fridge
  • remove any rubbish
  • remove anything that you own
  • take the gas and electricity meter readings and contact your suppliers to cancel your account

Read about what happens if you move out and  pdf leave some of your things in the property (44 KB) .