Birmingham City Council

FAQ Managing Your Private Tenancy

What do you mean by ‘managing your private tenancy’?

If you rent your home from a private landlord, rather than Birmingham City Council, we can still support you with managing your tenancy.

These Frequently Asked Questions explain more about the support that we can offer to private tenants.

For more information on private tenancies, please also see our Advice for Private Landlords and Tenants FAQs.

STARTING A PRIVATE TENANCY

Can I get help with paying my rent, even though I am not a council tenant?
The letting agency is requesting a fee for finding accommodation. Can they do this?
I have found a property to move into but I am worried about losing my deposit unfairly, is there anything I can do?
I have paid my deposit to my landlord but he hasn’t registered it, what can I do?
My landlord hasn’t given me a rent book. Is this right?
Who has the responsibility to pay bills on a rented property?
My mother/father has died and I have been living with her/him. Can I take over the tenancy?

MAINTAINING A PRIVATE TENANCY

My landlord is harassing me. What can I do?
My landlord has suddenly increased my rent. What can I do?
My landlord is in arrears with his mortgage and the house is going to be repossessed. What can I do?
My landlord hasn’t paid the electricity bill and the supply has been cut off. What can I do?
My landlord has not carried out repairs that I have reported some time ago. Do I have a right to withhold my rent?
My landlord keeps entering the property without any arrangement with me. Does he/she have the right to do this?
What happens if I do not allow my landlord reasonable access?
What happens if I do not pay my rent?
What happens if I do not pay my Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to my landlord?
What happens if I do not take care of the property?
What happens if I disturb my neighbours?


ENDING A PRIVATE TENANCY

How much notice does my landlord have to give me?
My landlord has given me a shorter notice period that I think I am entitled to. What can I do?
How much notice do I have to give to end my tenancy?
I have given my notice to end my tenancy in one month’s time. Can I tell the landlord to keep my deposit in lieu of my last month’s rent?
My landlord has not returned my deposit, what can I do?
My landlord has told me to leave tonight, do I have to go?
I have come home and the landlord has changed the locks so I can’t get in. What can I do?
My tenancy agreement expires at the end of the month do I have to leave?
My landlord has got an order of possession which expires tomorrow, do I have to leave?

OTHER

Can I become more involved in helping to monitor your service to private tenants?
How else can I share my views on your service to private tenants?
Who do I contact if I have any questions or concerns about my private tenancy that my landlord cannot answer?


STARTING A PRIVATE TENANCY

Can I get help with paying my rent, even though I am not a council tenant?
You may be able to claim housing benefit if you currently receive Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, or if you are on a low income. To find out whether you are eligible, telephone the Benefits Service on 0121 464 7000 or contact your local neighbourhood office.


The letting agency is requesting a fee for finding accommodation. Can they do this?
Yes, in certain circumstances.A letting agency can charge a fee for finding you accommodation that you then accept. However, they cannot charge you a fee for recording your details, or showing you their lists of available accommodation.


I have found a property to move into but I am worried about losing my deposit unfairly, is there anything I can do?
Tenancy deposit law was introduced on 6th April 2007. It prevents landlords and letting agents from unfairly withholding a deposit by having deposits placed in a tenancy deposit scheme.

Within 14 days of you paying your deposit, your landlord should register your deposit with a scheme and give you a registration form that confirms this. The form will also outline contact details for the scheme and explain how you can apply for the release of your deposit at the end of your tenancy.

To reclaim your full deposit, you should return the property in the same condition that it was let to you, allowing for fair wear and tear.


I have paid my deposit to my landlord but he hasn’t registered it, what can I do?
If your deposit hasn’t been registered within 14 days of your landlord receiving it, you can apply to the county court. The county court can order your landlord to either repay your deposit or to protect it in a scheme. If the court finds that your landlord or letting agent has not protected your deposit, they can order your landlord/agent to repay you three times the amount of the deposit.


My landlord hasn’t given me a rent book. Is this right?
If your rent is charged on a weekly basis, your landlord has a legal obligation to issue you with a rent book. If your rent is charged monthly you should ask your landlord for receipts for your rent payments.

Who has the responsibility to pay bills on a rented property?
Your tenancy agreement should clearly set out who pays for what. Generally speaking it is the householder i.e. the tenant, who will be billed by the utility companies.

If you are living in a house with multiple occupants, bills for Council Tax, water and sewerage are likely to be sent to the landlord. If the landlord wishes to recover the costs from the tenants, amounts to be paid must be stated in the contract or the rent should be agreed to be inclusive of bills. If gas and electric supplies are also shared with other tenants in the property, this should be dealt with in the same way. It would be unreasonable for one tenant to be billed and then to have to collect from other tenants.


My mother/father has died and I have been living with her/him. Can I take over the tenancy?
This will depend on the type of tenancy your parent held. It may be possible for you to succeed to the tenancy. For advice and information, telephone the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.


MAINTAINING A PRIVATE TENANCY

My landlord is harassing me. What can I do?
For advice and information, telephone the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.

My landlord has suddenly increased my rent. What can I do?
There are specific rules about when and how your landlord can increase your rent, depending on what type of tenancy you have. For advice and information, telephone the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.


My landlord is in arrears with his mortgage and the house is going to be repossessed. What can I do?
If you moved in after your landlord took out the mortgage then you will have to leave when the house is repossessed. If you find yourself in this situation, please seek advice from your local neighbourhood office.

If you moved in before your landlord took out the mortgage then you may be able to stay after the date the house is due to be repossessed. If you find yourself in this situation, please seek advice from your local neighbourhood office.


My landlord hasn’t paid the electricity bill and the supply has been cut off. What can I do?
We may be able to assist you in having the supply restored. For advice and information, telephone the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.


My landlord has not carried out repairs that I have reported some time ago. Do I have a right to withhold my rent?
If you withhold rent, you will be in breach of your contract, so this is not advisable. However, if your landlord has taken an unreasonable length of time to deal with a repair, taking into account the size of the job and how long the job should reasonably take to organise, then your landlord may be in breach of contract.

If this is the case, you can put forward an argument to your landlord that a suitable reduction in rent is made until such time that the repair is carried out. If an agreement cannot be reached with your landlord, it is best to get advice before taking any further action. You can telephone the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.

TOP

My landlord keeps entering the property without any arrangement with me. Does he/she have the right to do this?
Not usually. When you are renting as a tenant, whether it is a house, flat or a room, you have "exclusive possession" of the property or that part of the property. This means that there is an exclusive right to occupy, use and enter the property or part of the property concerned.

In addition, every tenancy has an implied "covenant of quiet enjoyment" where the landlord has to respect the tenant's right to enjoy this exclusive right. The only time your landlord has right of access is to check for any necessary repairs and to do this they need to give you at least 24 hours notice in writing. This could be less in case of an emergency, but your agreement must still be sought before the landlord can enter the property.


What happens if I do not allow my landlord reasonable access?
Your landlord can apply to the county court for an injunction which would require you to allow access to your landlord. You may be liable for the court costs.

What happens if I do not pay my rent?
You are putting your tenancy at risk. Your landlord will have grounds to serve you with a notice to quit which starts the process to end your tenancy. If you are unable to pay your rent always seek advice and keep your landlord informed.

What happens if I do not pay my Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to my landlord?
Again you are putting your tenancy at risk. Birmingham City Council can arrange for your LHA to be paid direct to your landlord.


What happens if I do not take care of the property?
You are putting your tenancy at risk. Your landlord will have grounds to serve you with a notice to quit which starts the process to end your tenancy. You may also have to pay to put right any wilful damage to the property.

What happens if I disturb my neighbours?
You are putting your tenancy at risk. Your landlord will have grounds to serve you with a notice to quit which starts the process to end your tenancy. Birmingham City Council’s antisocial behaviour team may also take enforcement action against you.


ENDING A PRIVATE TENANCY

How much notice does my landlord have to give me?
If you have a shorthold tenancy, your landlord must give you at least two calendar months’ notice, or the same period for which rent is paid – whichever is longer.

Your shorthold tenancy may be for a fixed term, e.g. six months, or periodic, rolling on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis. If your tenancy is periodic, the notice should end on the last day of a tenancy period, i.e. the day before your rent is due. We advise you to seek advice before deciding to leave your home.

You can telephone the Private Tenancy Unit for advice on 0121 303 5070.


My landlord has given me a shorter notice period that I think I am entitled to. What can I do?
If your landlord is claiming that you have done something wrong, such as damaging the property or not paying your rent, you may only get two weeks’ notice.

If you share living accommodation (e.g. living room, kitchen, bathroom) with your landlord, he/she has to give you reasonable notice. This may be shorter than the notice periods stated above, but it should be stated in your tenancy agreement. You can be evicted at the end of the reasonable notice period without the need for a court order.


How much notice do I have to give to end my tenancy?
If you want to end your tenancy you usually have to give 28 days notice in writing to your landlord. If you have a fixed term tenancy agreement, you may have to pay rent until the end of your agreement, unless it contains a clause allowing you to leave early. Once the fixed term period is up you need only give 28 days notice.

In either case, remember to keep a copy of the letter.


I have given my notice to end my tenancy in one month’s time. Can I tell the landlord to keep my deposit in lieu of my last month’s rent?
If you do not pay your rent, you will be in breach of your contract. The deposit cannot be used in lieu of the last month’s rent unless the landlord agrees. The deposit is also used for damage to the property and furnishings, so the landlord is entitled to wait until the end of the tenancy to refund your deposit, when the property and inventory can be checked.


My landlord has not returned my deposit, what can I do?
TOP If you paid your deposit before 6 April 2007, you will have to negotiate its return with your landlord as a first step. If negotiation doesn’t work, you will have to take your landlord to the county court. We suggest that you seek advice from our Private Tenancy Unit before going to court – you can telephone them on 0121 303 5070.

If you paid your deposit after 6 April 2007, your landlord should have registered the deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme. Your landlord should have given you information to confirm this, including contact details for the scheme. You can contact the scheme directly, who will return the deposit or help to resolve any dispute surrounding the return of the deposit.

My landlord has told me to leave tonight, do I have to go?
No, you cannot be evicted unless your landlord has followed the correct legal procedure to evict you. If you find yourself in this situation, seek advice from the Private Tenancy Unit immediately by telephoning 0121 303 5070.


I have come home and the landlord has changed the locks so I can’t get in. What can I do?
If your landlord has not given you notice to end your tenancy, this could be an unlawful eviction. If this is the case, you may be able to get back into your home. If you find yourself in this situation, seek advice from the Private Tenancy Unit immediately by telephoning 0121 303 5070. For emergencies outside of office hours you should telephone 0121 303 2296.


My tenancy agreement expires at the end of the month do I have to leave?
No, your landlord must serve you with a written notice to end your tenancy. If you do not move out at the end of your notice period, they must first apply to the courts for an order of possession. If the court finds in favour of the landlord, you may have to pay the court costs.


My landlord has got an order of possession which expires tomorrow, do I have to leave?
If you do not move out, your landlord must apply to the courts for a warrant of eviction. If the court finds in favour of the landlord, you may have to pay the court costs.


OTHER

Can I become more involved in helping to monitor your service to private tenants?
Yes you can – we value feedback from customers as it helps us to improve and develop our services. If you would like to join a private tenants’ group, please telephone the Private Rented Services team on 0121 303 5070.


How else can I share my views on your service to private tenants?
Please email your comments to prs@birmingham.gov.uk or send a letter to Private Rented Services, PO Box 16589, Birmingham, B2 2JB.

Who do I contact if I have any concerns about my private tenancy?
You can telephone the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.