Housing advice for private tenants

Find out more about the renting process and your rights as a tenant.

At the start of your tenancy 

If you are a private tenant, or looking to move into the private rented sector, your landlord or letting agent will have certain responsibilities they’re expected to fulfil. 

Before renting a room, they are legally required to check your immigration status and the status of any adults living with you. This is called a ‘Right to Rent’ check. 

Unless you are a lodger (that is where you are renting a room in home where your landlord also lives), at the start of the tenancy your landlord or letting agent must give you the following: 

You can also read our property safety and legal advice for tenants

Tenancy deposits 

If you are an Assured Shorthold Tenant, your landlord or letting agent cannot hold your deposit. This must be held in one of three a government approved ‘Deposit Protection Schemes’.  

If you have paid a deposit and it hasn’t been protected in this way: 

  • You can claim compensation 
  • It may be harder for your landlord or letting agent to end your tenancy 

Your landlord or letting agent should return your deposit when you tenancy ends, unless they have reasons to make deductions

If you are a lodger, any deposit you pay does not have to be protected. 

Discrimination 

Your landlord should not discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic outlined in the Equality Act

They should also not place restrictions based on your employment status. This includes refusing you as a tenant if you are receiving benefits.  

If you believe you have been the victim of any such discrimination, you may want to seek independent legal advice.  

The following agencies may provide this advice without any direct costs to you. 

Repairs 

Your landlord or letting agent is responsible for most of the repairs in your home. Your landlord should not enter your home without your agreement.  

If they need to access your home, they should: 

  • Give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing 
  • Arrange with you a suitable time to visit 

Health & Safety 

Your landlord or letting agent must: 

You can also read our property safety and legal advice for tenants

Rent and rent increases 

Your landlord or letting agent must tell you when and how your rent should be paid. If you pay your rent weekly, they must provide you with a rent book.  

There are rules on rent increases, which must be followed. These will vary depending on the type of tenancy you have.  

If there is a ‘fair usage clause’, you could be asked to pay more if your rent includes utility bills.  

Landlord harassment 

Your landlord or letting agent is legally required to allow you to enjoy living in your home without unnecessary interference.  

They should not let themselves into your home without permission. Neither should they harass you or make it difficult for you to live in your home. 

If you believe your landlord or letting agent is harassing you, including asking you to leave without appropriate valid notice, contact our housing options team by emailing housing.advice@brighton-hove.gov.uk or calling 01273 294 400.  

You can also contact Sussex Police if you feel you are being harassed. 

Read more information on your right to enjoy occupation of your home

Eviction 

Eviction is a legal process that takes time. There are 3 stages for most private renters: 

  • Notice 
  • Court action 
  • Eviction by bailiffs 

Assured Shorthold Tenants can be evicted using the section 21 eviction process. If you have another type of tenancy, other eviction notices may be required.