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Renting Privately

You may wish to consider renting privately through a private landlord. The advantage of renting privately is that you can choose where you live and therefore be near your support network, schools, employment, hospitals and GPs etc. You may also get help towards your rent by claiming Housing Benefits. Housing Benefits is a welfare benefit to help people pay their rent. It depends on your income, savings or capital and other factors.

Know the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Rates (LHA is a way of working out Housing Benefit for tenants in private rented accommodation)

Apply for housing benefit.

You can look for private rented accommodation by registering with accommodation agencies or the Lettings section of Estate Agents. There are Estate Agents on most High Streets within Hillingdon and we strongly advise that you visit them in person rather than enquiring by telephone. Estate Agent details can also be found in the Yellow Pages or Thompson Directory, or through online searches. You could also look for advertisements in the back of the local newspapers, for example The Leader, or The Gazette. Some Landlords also advertise in newsagent’s windows.

As well as signing up with Lettings Agents or looking in local newspapers, you can also search online. The internet is a useful tool for finding property. There are many useful websites on the internet, some examples are listed below to help you:

www.gumtree.com
www.loot.com
www.findaproperty.com
www.rightmove.co.uk

If you do not have internet access, most Libraries now have computers for the public to use, you can use these to search for properties online.

Before accepting and signing a Tenancy Agreement there are a few checks you need to do first:

• If you are claiming Housing Benefit, make sure that the rent is within the Local Housing Allowance rate (LHA)
• Make sure the condition and size of the property is suitable to avoid living in substandard accommodation which is too large or too small for your needs.
• You should request to see a valid Gas Safety Certificate, which ensures the gas fittings in the property are safe and there are no leaks. This needs to be done yearly.
• All properties are now required to have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). This gives information on the energy homes use and carbon dioxide emissions. This also contains a recommendation report which gives suggestions on how to reduce the energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.
• Ensure that the Landlord or Estate Agents accept the current Local Housing Allowance rate as the rent. If the Landlord or Estate Agent insists on a higher rate then we would suggest that their request is unreasonable as the Local Housing Allowance rates are very generous. We would also advise not to accept the property as you may encounter financial difficulties when paying the rent.
• Please make sure your deposit is protected in a 'Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme'. This is a legal requirement.

Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes guarantee that you will get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy, if you meet the terms of the tenancy agreement and do not damage the property. Landlords must protect their tenants' deposits using a TDP scheme if they have let the property on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) which started after 6 April 2007.

If your landlord/agent does not protect your deposit when required to and in the required amount of time, you can take your landlord to court and he/she may have to repay your deposit plus three times the amount of the deposit. They will also be unable to seek possession of your property in certain circumstances.

Rights for Private Renters

Other Options available to you

You may decide to stay with family or friends while you are looking for more settled accommodation.

If you are a single person, you may be able to find hostel or shared accommodation. Contact a Housing Advisor and they can give you more information about this

We always recommend you take sensible precautions when you are meeting someone to view a property. See our safety tips page for useful advice.

For more information about being a tenant, download this guide.