Being a private tenant has its perks: you’re not having to liaise through a real estate agent to get to the landlord or owner so that you can achieve maintenance or other requirements. Yet, there are still aspects to be mindful of when it comes to renting a home privately with the owner. Often there are things like deposits required and bonds, there can be issues regarding price hikes in rent and problems if you fall into arrears.
Liaising with the owner directly is fantastic when you don’t have to go through the ‘middle man’, that is the real estate agent and an owner might be understanding of your situation, however they also may not be and legal action can be taken.
Deposit or Bond
Paying a deposit or bond is a necessary aspect of moving into a home or apartment, any property which is rented out. The landlord must place this deposit into a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme where it remains until you choose to leave the premises or the lease ends and the owner wishes to no longer rent it out. A bond is security that the property will be left in the same condition, bearing in mind wear and tear due to age, and part of the deposit may not be refunded if there is damage caused to the property, the home itself or the landscape. However, if you are experiencing difficulty obtaining your deposit back although there is no reason for it not to be returned, you can contact the deposit protection scheme to liaise with them.
Price hikes or increases in rent can happen over time and depending on the market trends, however while real estate agents which influence owners on the reasonable pricing of a property, renting privately means the owner may increase the rent (with due given notice) to an amount he or she prefers without consulting market trends. This can influence your financial situation and your rights especially if the price hike is beyond what would be reasonable expected to pay for in the property. Your landlord cannot increase your rent more than once a year without your agreement if you have a periodic tenancy (month-to-month); they do require your permission to increase the rent and as mentioned, it must be in line with the average market rent in the area.
Therefore if your landlord proposes a rent that is out of that scope, then you can disagree with this and dispute it. Your landlord may increase your rent at the end of the tenancy agreement prior to a new one being signed and have a written agreement of this; they must also provide one month’s notice if you have a periodic tenancy. Therefore, even if you are renting privately, you do have rights to dispute a proposed rent increase.
If you fall in arrears with your rent, you could be at risk of legal action or being evicted (with due notice given) from the property. Using the deposit as a way of paying owing rent is not an option as this is a security bond for the condition of the property not a way of paying owed rent if you are being evicted. The landlord would then need to put in a claim for the bond or deposit due to loss of rent revenue. You might be financially struggling at a point in time but this does not automatically mean eviction; there are procedures in place for private tenants and the landlord must provide notice to you that they wish to cease the tenancy. If the landlord seeks a warrant for possession of the property, the possession cannot take place unless you have been occupying the property for at least six months.