If you are looking to rent a property (or are already renting a property) there are a number of things to consider to protect yourself and make ensure you understand the processes better. Here are a few things to before, during and after that will help you along the way.
1. Budget properly.
Think about the whole cost of living, not just whether you can afford the rent or not. You need to still live as comfortable a life as possible so sit down and work out what you will have left after the rent, council tax, gas, electric, water, travel & food.
Is there still enough to go on holiday, have a good Christmas etc.
Once you have found your realistic budget, it is time to book some viewings.
2. Read the Tenancy Agreement properly.
There are a number of things to look for in a tenancy agreement, from the basics such as the rental amount, the names on the contract and the length of the contract to other details like who is responsible for maintenance and repairs, as these will vary. Are you responsible for the gardens or communal areas? Is the agreement fully completed by the landlord or agent – you don’t want anything adding later.
Don’t get caught out by something later by not checking before you sign.
3. Paperwork and deposits.
Make sure that on the day you move in the agent gives you all the relevant paperwork. You should be supplied with a valid Energy Performance Certificate, a Gas Safety Certificate, your Right to Rent forms, a copy of your Tenancy Agreement and confirmation of your deposit being lodged with an appropriate scheme. The day you sign the contract is the day your rent needs to be paid so try to schedule this for when you have the funds available.
If any of these forms aren’t valid or the deposit hasn’t been lodged within 30 days you need to take it up with Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
4. Check your inventory.
A lot of landlords will have an inventory done before you move into their property. This protects them from damage and ensures that the property is left in the same condition when you move out. You should be given a copy of the inventory and you have 7 days from the day you move-in to check it and sign to say that you agree with the condition report or challenge anything on there.
Be sure not to overlook this as you don’t want to be paying for damage that was there when you moved in.
5. Get the relevant permissions.
You need to make sure that when you put your application in that you inform the landlord or letting agent of all occupants and also of any pets you may have or be looking to get. Some landlords will want a slightly larger deposit to cover carpets cleaning gardens tidying – depending on the type of pet but some landlords will not allow pets at all so you need to find out right at the start.
Failure to do so could have financial implications at a later date and possibly lead to eviction.
6. Arrange insurance.
This is something that is often overlooked by tenants but should be high on your agenda. The landlord will have buildings insurance but you need to look into getting your own contents insurance to cover all your belongings. Also look into income protection, especially if you have dependents.
This ensures you can protect your rent and your lifestyle should anything happen to your health or income during the tenancy.
7. Ventilate the property.
Make sure you look after the ventilation in the property when you are doing things that can create condensation, such as drying clothes on radiators, using tumble driers and having hot baths/showers. Failure to open a window or use any extractor fans can lead to mould patches around the ceilings and windows, even behind furniture and mattresses.
Apart from being unsightly and ruining your decor, there is growing evidence to suggest that it is also bad for your health. It can cause headaches, breathing difficulties as well as nausea and fatigue.
8. Don’t ignore repairs.
Things go wrong in houses, it is inevitable. Whether it is a light-bulb blowing or a boiler ceasing to work. It is imperative that you keep on top of things, from the small jobs that you need to do yourself like changing light-bulbs and tending to gardens to the larger things that you will need to speak to your landlord or letting agent about.
Make sure you don’t let things build up as one thing can lead to another, making simple jobs into much larger tasks.
The majority of landlords will get straight onto the job in hand for you, so make sure you report things as they happen.
9. Communication is key.
There will come a day when you want to leave your property for somewhere new, and in some cases, there may be unfortunate circumstances when you struggle to pay your rent on time. The most important thing is that you keep in touch with your letting agent or landlord and speak to them about appropriate timescales and plans so they can help you.
The worst thing to do is either just leave a property or avoid any issues as it can affect your credit rating and references, further affecting your ability to rent properties in the future.
10. Leave it as you found it.
When you finally decide to leave your property and move on, you should leave it as you found it on the day that you moved in. Think back to the inventory that was done – there will be a comparison check done against it to see if they match up, and you will be liable for any work that needs doing that isn’t passed as standard wear and tear.
Give the place a ‘spring clean’, make sure the gardens are tidied and take everything that is yours with you to ensure you get your deposit back.