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We offer a range of support and advice to people who own their own home, those who rent privately or from housing associations or those looking for a home.
On this page you will find information about the most common topics we get asked for advice on.
If you are a landlord looking for advice, then we can also help. Visit our dedicate advice for landlords page for more information.
Your rights if you are renting
From the start of a tenancy, you have certain rights. If you are renting a room, a flat or a house from a private landlord you should ensure the following information is provided:
- Assured Shorthold Tenancy (ASTs) - even if you do not have a tenancy agreement, you still have rights
- Energy performance certificate
- Gas safety certificate
- Which safety deposit scheme is being used
It's your landlord's responsibility to repair most of the repairs in your home, you should notify them of any problems. Do not wait until the problem gets worse as it may cost more to correct. Read our procedure on enforcing housing standards.
The Housing Ombudsmen has produced a guide to tenants’ rights when renting from social landlords (this includes housing associations).
Affording your rent or mortgage
If you are struggling to afford your rent then find out if you are entitled to receive housing benefit to cover all or some of the costs. Use a housing benefit calculator or make a housing benefit application, to see if you qualify.
You can also speak to the National Housing Advisory Service for advice if you are struggling with debt or if you are having difficulty paying your rent or mortgage due to recent increases Use the NHAS (National Housing Advisory Service).
You can also read advice on what to do if you can’t pay your mortgage from Citizens’ Advice.
You can also find a range of information and more organisations you can contact on our Money Advice page.
Your landlord’s right to enter your home
There is a term in a tenancy agreements, under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1988, that the tenant will let the landlord have access to the property and all reasonable facilities to carry out repairs which the landlord is entitled to do.
The landlord or agent is entitled to carry out periodic tenancy inspections.
The landlord or agent authorised by the tenant, at reasonable times of the day, can enter the property to inspect its condition and state of repair. They must give the tenant at least 24 hours notice in writing before they carry out such an inspection.
Dealing with pests in your home
If you are renting then you should contact your landlords as it is their responsibility to deal with the removal of pests.
If you own your own home and are receiving certain benefits, you may be able to get issues with rats, mice, fleas, cockroaches, bedbugs and wasps dealt with for free.
If you own your own home and are not receiving the qualifying benefits then you will need to pay a private company to have the issue dealt with.
I am being harassed or threatened with illegal eviction by my landlord
If your landlord wants you to leave the property you are renting then they must follow the legal rules to lawfully evict you.
The rules vary according to your circumstances, but often mean that you will be given a written Notice to Quit or Notice of the Landlord’s Intention to Seek possession. These must be followed by a Possession Order obtained in the County Court.
An overview of the rules on evicting tenants can be found on the Government’s website.
Some landlords, if they cannot evict their tenants legally, will try to get them out by committing acts calculated to make them leave their home. This is called harassment. Examples of harassment include:
- Interfering with essential services such as the gas, electricity or water supply, etc.
- Threatening you with violence.
- Interfering with your possessions.
- Making you hand over the key to your home.
- Making you sign an agreement reducing your legal rights.
- Preventing access to shared facilities such as kitchen, bathroom and WC etc
Some landlords may force or lock their tenants out without following the correct legal procedures, usually when they do not have proper grounds for eviction. This is called illegal eviction.
As a council we have powers we can use to take action against landlords who act in this way. There are also actions you can take.
You can take private civil action against your landlord. A solicitor’s help may be free if you qualify for legal aid. Your solicitor may decide to apply to the Court for an injunction or Court Order to force your landlord to let you back into your home and/or stop harassing you.
In an emergency, an injunction can be obtained in a few hours but will normally take several days. An injunction is the most effective remedy if you are seriously troubled by your landlord. If it is disobeyed, the landlord risks possible imprisonment. Your solicitor may be able to sue the landlord for damages, for the trouble and inconvenience you have suffered and for any expenses, and to pay for any damage to your personal property.
If your landlord causes you serious problems after office hours, the police can sometimes intervene to prevent a breach of the peace.
Important: If your landlord claims to know the law and tells you that you must leave, DO NOT GO. Get advice immediately from us or a solicitor.
How to contact us
If you think your landlord is acting illegally in the way they are trying to evict you then please call our Housing Needs team on 01386 565020 or email
I am experiencing domestic abuse
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence 24 hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.
You can also see our dedicated domestic abuse page for more advice and support.
Your home is overcrowded if:
- 2 people of a different sex have to sleep in the same room
- they are aged 10 or over
This doesn't apply to couples who share a room. Children under 10 are not counted.
Any room you can sleep in counts. Living rooms, dining rooms and studies count as rooms you can sleep in.