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Am I ready to be a tenant?

Am I ready to be a tenant?

We are very pleased that you are seeking alternative accommodation.

However, it is important to think about what it will be like being offered a home and being a tenant.  Being a tenant carries responsibilities, particularly in terms of how you manage your money and how you look after the home.  Signing a tenancy agreement with a landlord, whether it is the local authority or another housing provider, commits you both financially and in keeping the home in good order.  At the start of a tenancy, you have to pay rent in advance of between one week and one month's rent, depending on the landlord.  It is very important to have this cash in hand, along with money for removal costs and any floor coverings, curtains, white goods and furniture that you will need.  Rent in advance is required to ensure that you are in credit with your rent, rent generally being due in advance.

When you are a tenant, it is important to -

  • take good care of the physical fabric of the home eg repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or your friends, ventilate and heat the home properly and turn off the water if you are away from home in cold weather
  • be considerate of your neighbours eg ensure family and friends behave well at your home, keep noise down, do not allow rubbish to accumulate outside and keep any garden, garage or allocated parking space in good order
  • only have paying guests in the home if the landlord allows it

Your landlord could take legal action to evict you from your home if you don’t fulfil these responsibilities.  The key questions to ask yourself are -

  1. Can I budget to pay the rent and essential living costs without exceeding my income?
  2. If I will need help with housing costs, do I understand how this kind of assistance works?
  3. Am I able to keep a home and its immediate surroundings in good order?
  4. Will renting a social rented home provide the space and facilities that I want?

If you are unsure about your ability to budget, money advice is available from Wiltshire Money (01225 781946,  If you are having difficulty paying your rent and/or other essential living costs in your present home, or are struggling to pay credit debts, you may wish to take advice from Citizens Advice (0344 411 1444), National Debtline (0808 808 4000), StepChange (0800 138 1111) or a similar debt advice service.  It is recommended that any debt advice service you consult is accredited by the Money Advice Service and is a member of the Institute of Money Advisors.

In relation to help with housing costs (eg Housing Benefit or Universal Credit), it is important to understand how these benefits work.  Which you need to claim depends on your circumstances as Universal Credit housing element is due, over time, to replace Housing Benefit for working age people.  Increasing numbers of people on low incomes in Wiltshire are claiming Universal Credit. Please see these links to the Gov.UK website for information about Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Housing Element.  It is important to understand that Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so it is vital to be managing your money well if you need to claim it.

In terms of looking after a home, this is about your sense of wellbeing and about the perception of others.  Allowing rubbish to accumulate and being careless of the condition of the environment brings a neighbourhood down, and can antagonise the neighbours with whom you will be wanting to get on well.  The most important aspect of maintaining a tidy home is having a routine and being organised.

Wiltshire Council is one of a number of social landlords in Wiltshire, with most of its homes in the south of the county, and more information about being a social tenant is available on the Wiltshire Council website here.