Legal Stuff

Legal information - image of a character signing a contract

Contracts

Your letting agent or landlord may ask you to sign a tenancy agreement (contract). This is legally binding.

Once you sign it is almost impossible to reverse, and if it is possible – it will cost you!

Your landlord should give you 24 hours to take the contract away for an expert to check through it for ‘unfair terms’. During this time, the house should be held for you free of charge.

Get someone to look over the contract for you, perhaps your parents, the Student Union or University.

Remember – You do not have to sign on the day you decide you want to rent the house.

Cardiff University Students

Take contracts to the Student Advice Centre on the 3rd floor of the Students’ Union and ask for an advisor to check it over.

Cardiff Metropolitan University Students

Get in touch with your Accommodation Officer:

029 2041 6188 / accomm@cardiffmet.ac.uk

University of South Wales Students

Get in touch with your Accommodation Office:

01443 482044 / accom@southwales.ac.uk

Make sure:

  • any verbal promises are included in the written tenancy agreement. They should be signed and dated;
  • all tenants names are on the agreement;
  • you have a copy of the contract and you keep it in a safe place so you can refer back to it if any problems arise;
  • you understand that if you are on a joint contract that you are jointly liable for any damage caused to communal areas of the property e.g. kitchen and living room. Only rent with people you can trust;
  • you understand that if you or another tenant wants to leave the tenancy before the end of the contract, it is your responsibility to find another tenant. There may also be charges for leaving the contract early. You are responsible for rent until the end of the tenancy;
  • you don’t make any payments (including the deposit or agency fees) before signing the contract.

Download the Understanding your tenancy contract leaflet for more information.

If you are unsure about anything in the contract, please call:

Housing Options Centre on 029 2057 0750

Deposits

This may also be referred to as a bond. This is a sum of money required by the landlord or letting agent as a form of security just in case you damage the property.

It can also be used to cover unpaid bills, rent or missing furnishings. Most landlords and agents will ask for the equivalent of one months rent but the maximum a landlord can charge by law is a sixth of the annual rent payable.

Your deposit must be protected under a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. This is a legal requirement. Your landlord or letting agent must provide you with details of where your deposit is protected within 30 days of you signing the tenancy agreement. If they haven’t done this, ask them for it! This is important as it essentially means your deposit is protected by a government approved scheme.

When you move out, if you and your landlord agree how much deposit you’ll get back, it must be returned to you within 10 days of the tenancy ending. If you’re in a dispute with your landlord, then your deposit is protected in the deposit scheme until the issue is sorted.

To ensure you get your full deposit back fill in a full inventory form when you arrive. Your landlord or letting agent should go through this with you, but you can do your own inventory if needs be. Make a note of any marks on furnishings or problems in the property. You may want to take photos. If there are problems in the house when you arrive, tell your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. Agree the inventory with your landlord and keep a copy for your own records.

Licensing

The City of Cardiff Council operates two licensing schemes to control and improve conditions in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). These schemes apply to all HMOs in the city if the property is 3 or more storeys and occupied by 5 or more people who are unrelated to each other, and to all HMOs in Cathays and Plasnewydd (Roath) where three or more unrelated people live together.

Check if your house is licensed by emailing:

privatesectorhousing@cardiff.gov.uk

More information on HMOs

It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. This helps you to maintain a good relationship with your landlord, neighbours and housemates.

Every tenant has the right to:

know the terms of the tenancy

be able to contact the landlord either directly or through a letting agent.

a decent standard of repair in the property and safe accommodation

quiet enjoyment while living in the property

proper notice (24 hours notice) if the landlord wishes to inspect or visit the property

proper notice if the landlord wants the tenant to leave

Every tenant is responsible for:

putting rubbish out correctly (including correctly using food waste caddies, black bins/bags and recycling bags);

keeping the noise down, you may be sharing a wall with neighbours who are elderly or who have young children;

ensuring the property is secure by using locks on windows and doors provided by the landlord;

knowing who your water, gas and electricity suppliers are and to pay bills on time;

making minor repairs, such as replacing light bulbs, replacing batteries in fire alarms, unblocking toilets;

paying rent on time;

ensuring the property is adequately heated to prevent damp and mould from growing. Cost of damage caused to the property as a result of this may be taken from your deposit.

Every landlord has the right to:

fix terms of the agreement before the tenancy begins;

receive rent on the date agreed in the contract;

be advised of any necessary repairs;

be given proper notice by a tenant if he or she wishes to leave;

reasonable access to the property (by giving tenants 24 hours notice);

ask for a deposit which can then be used to offset any damage to the property by the tenant;

ask for rent in advance;

choose who the property will be let to as long as the choice is in compliance with legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex or religion.

Every landlord is responsible for:

protecting your bond/deposit in a Tenancy Deposit scheme;

providing you with an up to date gas safety certificate;

meeting the terms in the tenancy agreement;

carrying out repairs and maintain the property as agreed in the tenancy agreement;

if applicable, licensing the property under the HMO Licensing schemes.

Rent Smart Wales will help to raise standards in the private rented sector in Wales.

From 23rd November 2015, landlords and agents must become registered and licensed via Rent Smart Wales. Landlords and agents who need to become licensed can do so online through Rent Smart Wales approved training courses. Landlords and agents have 12 months in which to comply with the new legislation. It is intended that the legislation will result in:

  • improved standards of letting and management practice in the private rented sector
  • information on properties available for tenant verification
  • information on landlords and agents available for local authorities to assist with strategic intervention and dissemination of information
  • raised awareness by landlords and agents of their respective rights and responsibilities
  • in turn, raised awareness by tenants of their respective rights and responsibilities.