Private Rented Scheme - tenants guide
The following information provides details to questions frequently asked about the Private Rented Scheme (PRS).
What is the Private Rented Scheme (PRS)?
The Private Rented Scheme (PRS) is a way to help Woking Borough Council meet housing needs in Woking. By working in partnership with landlords in the private rented sector, the Council aims to house households who are unable to move into rented accommodation because they cannot raise a deposit or pay rent in advance.
How does the Private Rented Scheme work?
Households who are considered for this scheme are taken from the Housing Register. The Council provides a bond of £1,500 which acts in the same way as a cash deposit and can be claimed against by the landlord at the end of the tenancy.
Landlords will offer their properties on an assured shorthold tenancy for a minimum of six months, on the understanding that a tenancy will continue if there are no problems for you or the landlord.
The tenancy agreement will be between you and the landlord, not the Council. A tenancy will start on an agreed date after the paperwork has been completed.
Can I find my own accommodation?
Most landlords who take part in the scheme join before a tenant has been found. There may be times when a family finds a property whose owner is willing to offer their accommodation through the PRS. If this is the case, then the landlord must contact a Housing Options Officer at the Council to register their property with us.
NB: To be covered by PRS, the agreement of the Council must be sought before you move into the accommodation.
What are the conditions of the Private Rented Scheme ?
PRS will only gain the support of landlords if it increases their chance of being paid their rent regularly and in full. If you are offered accommodation under this scheme you must agree to:
- treat the property, garden and contents well, so as to minimise any claims against the bond
- ensure that the rent is paid in full (if the landlord wants to increase the rent it is your responsibility to still pay the rent in full)
- inform the Council's Housing Benefit Section and the Housing Options Officer of any changes in your circumstances which may affect your entitlement to benefits (e.g. if you find employment or decide to move out)
- allow reasonable access to Housing Services staff, for monitoring purposes.
What if I cannot afford the rent?
It is likely that most of the households nominated for the Private Rented Scheme will be eligible for Housing Benefit.
The Council carries out financial checks before placing you in private rented accommodation and for households eligible for Housing Benefit, a Housing Benefit trial calculation can show you how much you are likely to get in benefits before you sign a tenancy agreement.
What does the bond cover landlords for?
The bond or guarantee is provided by the Council to the landlord and acts in the same way as a deposit. It covers any loss as a result of damage or theft by tenants and up to one months rent arrears. The total bond is £1,500. The landlord may claim against this bond at the end of a tenancy.
The bond will not cover the following:
- wear and tear
- personal debt to the landlord
- items not identified on the agreement inventory
- damage or theft by anyone other than the tenant
- unpaid bills.
If the landlord makes a legitimate claim against the bond at the end of the tenancy, the Council will reclaim the money from the tenant.
What happens if a landlord wants a tenant to leave?
In the event of damage, theft or unreasonable behaviour, a landlord may want a tenant to leave the accommodation. A Housing Options Officer will offer advice to the landlord and the tenant to make sure that the correct eviction procedure is followed.
Tenants are afforded legal protection from harassment or threats of legal eviction, the Council can give you more advice about this.
Can I use the Private Rented Scheme more than once?
If you need accommodation because your tenancy ends and you cannot find alternative accommodation, you may be considered for other properties under the scheme. This will not happen in the following circumstances:
- suitable accommodation is still available to you
- you have debt with your previous landlord
- damage or theft occurred at your previous accommodation
- you have acted unreasonably in relation to your previous tenancy.
If you would like more information about the Private Rented Scheme (PRS), please contact the Housing Options team on:
- Telephone: 01483 743836 or
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org