Are you looking to rent?

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Most of us will rent at one time or another. As a tenant, you face a multitude of potential pitfalls when it comes to finding the right property. A tenancy agreement is legally binding so make sure you’re not just happy with bricks & mortar but with the terms of the tenancy agreement as well!

We thought we’d put together some top tips for you to consider when searching for your ideal rental property:

1. Research

Have you worked out what you can afford? It’s not just the monthly payments –  there’s the deposit (typically one month’s rent & one month in advance), agency & search fees. Once you know your budget you can start searching the areas you have in mind to move to!

2. Hidden costs

Take note that the letting agent (working on behalf of the landlord) will ask for a credit search & other admin fees which could be in the region of £40-£300. Make sure you’ve figured out the cost of moving your belongings from your current home to your new one, as well as interim storage costs.

3. Terms & Conditions

Double check your tenancy agreements for obligations on both the landlord and the tenant (you), who’s responsible for upkeep & maintenance of the property, running costs and liabilities.

4. Break Clause 

Check if the tenancy agreement has a break clause. A month is the standard notice time for both tenant or landlord. Yu also want to ensure the break clause can be activated by both landlord and tenant.

5. Tenant Deposit Protection Schemes

Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes ensure that money paid by tenants (as deposits) is kept safe. Check out our previous post on one of the three government approved schemes which landlords must use. Whilst the letting agent may take the money, it is the landlord’s responsibility so make sure you receive proof that this has happened.

6. Maintenance of the property

If you think the property needs some maintenance, make sure you request for it to be done before you sign the tenancy agreement, or at the very least ask for it to be written into the agreement. Perhaps negotiate a lesser rent until any maintenance issues are resolved.

Items often overlooked include the boiler as in the summer it’s are rarely an issue but when the temperature drops you want to have a fully working boiler. Similarly in the summer months, you want to make sure the windows open!

7. Renewal costs

Some agents will charge renewal costs for extending and taking out a new contract so don’t be caught out and ask the questions up front.

8. Utilities and services

Check who’s providing the utilities and what the process is to take over these services, to ensure that the services are still running when you start you rental, thereby avoiding any reconnection fees.

9. Insurance

Is the landlord insuring the contents or is it your responsibility as the tenant? Check what the policy covers, at the very least it should include the building. Make sure you find out before signing the tenancy agreement!

10. Inventory and moving in

Check the inventory report thoroughly as it should schedule what is the landlord’s property & the cleanliness of the flat. The inventory report will be used at the end of the tenancy to attribute responsibility for any damage, who should pay for the replacement costs and whether the property is being returned in a clean condition. Most deposit disputes centre around cleaning so don’t be afraid to take pictures of walls, rooms, carpets and so on to record the state of them as you move in. If you do this make sure you email them to the agent so they can be kept on file.

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