Renting a home

There are more applicants for housing association accommodation than there are vacancies. You may be able to get a house quicker and have more choice of location and type of housing in the private rented sector.

Many people are concerned about the initial cost of starting a private rented tenancy. A landlord or agent will expect you to:

  • pay the first month's rent in full before or when you collect the keys
  • provide a damages deposit - usually the equivalent of one or two months' rent
  • pay fees if you go ahead with a let but cannot charge you to view properties or to join their waiting list. A private landlord who does not advertise through an agency is unlikely to charge you any fees.

You can get the following help with renting a home:

Rent in Advance scheme

The Council offers an interest free loan to individuals, couples or families who are entitled to receive full Housing Benefit and cannot afford to pay the first months rent before they move in. This is a loan you will have to pay back through an agreed set of affordable repayments, Housing Benefit will not automatically pay this back for you.

  • You have to find a property that is suitable for your needs and that you can afford
  • The Council's private sector officer will then assess the property and must be satisfied that you can afford it and that the tenancy is suitable for your needs
  • The rent would usually be no higher than the maximum Housing Benefit Local Housing Allowance, see Housing Benefit rates
  • To get an idea of what you can afford visit the Shelter website and use their budget calculator
  • More guidance is available to download: Guide to private renting and How to rent

You must apply for the scheme before you move in to the property, scroll down for details of how to apply.

Deposit Guarantee scheme

If you cannot afford a cash deposit the Council may be able to help by giving the landlord a guarantee bond, it will not be for more than the value of six weeks' rent. The tenant will still be responsible for the cost of any cleaning or repairs needed when the tenancy ends. If necessary the Council will pay for any work and then the tenant will repay the Council through an agreed set of affordable repayments, Housing Benefit will not automatically pay this back for you.

You must apply for the scheme before you move in to the property, scroll down for details of how to apply.

Tenants' responsibilities

You are responsible for taking care of the property and you will be charged for any extra cleaning or repairs that are needed at the end of your tenancy.

  • On the day you move in you need to take photographs and make notes on the inventory to show the condition of the property and its contents on that day. Report any faults to the landlord or their agent, see our handy checklist
  • On the day you move out you need to clean the property and take new photographs to show the condition of the property on the day that you move out, see our cleaning guide
  • For information on the landlord's responsibilities visit GOV.UK - Private renting

 At the end of your tenancy 

  • The landlord will check the property and its contents against the inventory that you signed
  • They will list any cleaning or repairs needed and will send their claim to us with their supporting evidence
  • The Council's private sector officer will assess the claim and decide if the charges are fair
  • Any charges will be passed on to you. You can appeal against the charges within seven working days of receiving a copy of the charges from the Council but you will need to have evidence to support your appeal
  • Any repayments you need to make to the Council will be made through an agreed set of affordable repayments. Housing Benefit will not automatically pay this back for you.

Apply for the Deposit Guarantee and Rent in Advance schemes

You must apply for the schemes above before you move into the property. Application forms are available by contacting Housing Services or calling 01993 861000.

You may be eligible for either scheme or both schemes if you:

  • Are over 18 and in housing need
  • Are eligible to receive Housing Benefit
  • Have a connection with West Oxfordshire. This can be current or previous residence, a permanent job or immediate family living within the district
  • Have found a property to rent within West Oxfordshire. This can be self-contained or a room in a house that you do not share with a resident landlord 
  • Have found a property where the rent is usually no higher than the maximum Housing Benefit Local Housing Allowance. Some discretion by the private sector officer applies
  • Have not yet moved in
  • Are unable to raise a cash deposit and/or the first months rent any other way
  • Can show that you can afford to pay the rent and all of your essential living expenses
  • Do not have current arrears or previous unpaid rent arrears, although we will consider your circumstances
  • Can afford to make reasonable loan repayments on any Rent in Advance payment.

Guide to private renting

Please download the:

 

West Oxfordshire District Council
Elmfield
New Yatt Road
Witney
OX28 1PB