Rent is the money agreed to be paid by the tenant to the landlord for the use of a property for a period of time, for example, weekly; monthly; 4 weekly. Once the rent is agreed, it cannot be changed without the appropriate notices from the landlord to the tenant. If you are uncertain about how the law applies to your tenancy, get some advice – https://sheltercymru.org.uk/get-advice/
It is common for rent to be paid in advance.
Tenants who pay rent weekly are entitled to a rent book, in which rent payments made are recorded and signed for by both parties. Landlords must be able to provide up to date accurate statements of rent accounts for tenants paying monthly or other periods.
Rent can include amounts for utilities, but these should be itemised and accounted for separately. Landlords cannot charge more for utilities than they pay for them.
Tenants can be responsible to pay service charges for example towards cleaning in a lobby, gardening, lift servicing etc. This should be noted separately in the tenancy agreement, and information about the service contract with the Building management or owner should be shared with the tenant at the start of the tenancy.
Local Housing Allowance
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a welfare benefit payable to tenants of private landlords to help them afford their housing costs. People who qualify are on a low income e.g. National minimum wage or are retired. The maximum amount of LHA a household can claim is determined by the size of home they need. The amount a household will actually receive will depend on their income. If rent is more than the household can receive in LHA, they will have to
LHA rates are determined by the Department of Work and Pensions, based upon information about local rent levels. The LHA payable in Monmouthshire is detailed here Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
Since 2015, the LHA rates have been frozen as part of the Westminster Government’s welfare reform programme.
The allowance is administered by the Housing Benefit department of the Council. The benefit is normally paid to the tenant. Landlords experiencing problems with rent payment can contact the Housing Benefit team. The Council can arrange to pay LHA directly to landlords in certain circumstances. The Council is not obliged to tell a landlord that their tenant is receiving LHA.
More information about housing benefits in Monmouthshire is available https://www.torfaen.gov.uk/en/CouncilTaxAndBenefits/Benefits/HousingBenefitandCouncilTaxReduction/Housing-and-Council-Tax-Benefit.aspx
Housing Costs support under Universal Credit
Tenants who claim Universal Credit (UC) will receive an amount to help pay rent within their monthly UC payment. The levels will refer to the LHA rates but the amount people actually receive will depend upon their circumstances. The benefit is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions.
First payments of UC will be paid after a waiting period and only after all necessary information has been provided by the UC applicant to process their claim. UC payments will be paid to the tenant, but in some cases, alternative payment arrangements can be put in place so that the rent element of a UC claim can be paid directly to the landlord. For more information please follow these links https://directpayment.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/, https://www.gov.uk/housing-and-universal-credit
A security deposit is an amount of money, typically equivalent to one or two month’s rent, which is required by a landlord at the start of a tenancy to cover any damage to the property, or other costs arising from a breach in the terms of the tenancy.
Landlords must protect the value of the deposit by using one of the statutory schemes. They must inform their tenants of how their deposits are protected and how the schemes work (this is known as ‘the prescribed information’) within 30 days of receiving the deposit monies. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to 3x the value of the deposit, and a restriction on the landlord’s ability to repossess a property. Landlords are strongly advised to seek guidance. https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection
A tenancy bond is similar to a deposit, but instead of money being provided, a promise of funds to meet the costs of damage or other costs arising from a breach in the tenancy is made. Bonds assist people who cannot afford to provide a tenancy deposit.
Landlords need not provide ‘prescribed information’ for bond arrangements. Information about how the bond will operate will be provided by the agency who broker the bond.
Bond scheme terms can vary. It is worth seeing what local schemes offer. In Monmouthshire, there is the Right Move Bond Scheme. Visit https://www.poblgroup.co.uk/bond-scheme/ for more information
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