9 essential tips to help if you're renting

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 11 August 2015 00:52


Today's difficult economy and a cultural change that embraces professional flexibility have caused many to rent instead of buying their homes. The next generations are expected to be essentially renters, not buyers – Millennials like to keep their options open and are ready to move to a different city or country if necessary. If you're planning to rent a property, here are some essential tips to help you stay secure and benefit from your rental agreement.


1. Look for properties with a budget in mind


Before you start looking for properties, make sure to have a budget ready to help you make the right decision. First, include all your expenses – rent, gas, electricity, water, service charges, home insurance, council tax, internet and phone, as well as TV license.


Then come the expenses of your daily life, such as food, debt repayments and extra spending, from clothing to cigarettes. Just because you don't know the exact amount doesn't mean you cannot make an estimate that will significantly help you to assess your budget and pick the right property.

Every time you visit a property, check all its expenses carefully. Remember that in some shared accommodation situations, it's the landlord who's responsible for paying the council tax. Make sure to have a look at everything with your budget in mind.


2. Get all information in writing


Documents are a must. Everything should be written down in an understandable language. If you sign a tenancy agreement, you're actually agreeing to a lot of things: paying your rent on time, taking care of the property and behaving accordingly to the situation so you're not disturbing your neighbors.


What else should put into writing outside of the tenancy agreement? Consider writing down the inventory, as well as a confirmation of verbal conversations. Make sure to have all receipts for any payments you've made so far – rent in advance, your deposit or any fees. Better be safe than sorry.


3. Don't sign unless you're absolutely sure


This is important. An agreement is a legal document that binds you to perform certain actions, so if you suspect that you might not be able to keep it, better look for something else. If you change your mind after signing a contract, there's virtually no way for you to back out from it without a severe financial penalty.


Before you sign the agreement, read it carefully, ask for explanations and make sure to receive a copy of the agreement. You don't want to lose your deposit or pay the rent for a certain period even when you're not living there, do you?


4. Know your rights


As a tenant, you have rights which are there to protect you. As soon as you sign the agreement and start paying rent, the property becomes your home, not the landlord's. If your landlord or agent want to enter the property, they're required to give you a written notice at least a day in advance.


The landlord is obliged by the law to ensure that both the property and all appliances are safe to use. Moreover, the landlord is required to have the gas checked every year and make sure that all necessary repairs are completed, as long as it wasn't you who caused the damage.


The gist of your rights and obligations is in your tenancy agreement. You'll see there a section describing what you can and can’t do in the property – this is something you should read before you sign it.


Don't worry – landlords cannot put anything in the agreement that is not reasonable or stands against the law. If you're going to live with your landlord, you'll most probably have a different type of agreement. In either case, you should ask to have a formal written agreement so you have full understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.


5. Understand the issue of eviction


Sometimes things happen in our lives that we have no control over. In general, you don't need to worry that you might end up on the street – landlords have to give you a two months' notice if they want you to leave. Moreover, they cannot ask you to leave within the first six months of your assured short-hold tenancy.


If everything goes well – you pay your rent, keep the property in good shape and aren't disturbing your neighbors, a landlord cannot evict you for no reason within the term period you agreed upon – it's usually 6 to 12 months. And that works even in case you don’t have a written tenancy agreement.


If you happen to live with your landlord as a lodger, you'll have an excluded occupier's agreement and therefore the landlord only has to give you "reasonable notice", which most of the time depends on when you pay rent. If you pay weekly, for instance, the landlord has to give you a week's notice.


6. Check that the property is safe


Just because the landlord is obliged to ensure that the property is safe, it never hurts to check it on your own. Check whether all the rooms and appliances are of a good standard and the property is safe to live in. When viewing the property, it's good to have someone with you to help you assess it properly.


If you're being rushed by the landlord from one room to another, this is a sign that there might be some things that they don't want you to notice – in this case, be careful and take your time to properly check every room.


7. Watch out for agents


If you've never rented before, you might fall victim to greedy agents who will make you pay even for viewing the property. Agents can only charge you fees for actual services, for instance acquiring references and doing credit checks.


It's normal that they ask you to put down a holding deposit, but remember that you won't get it back if you do not accept the property. Never pay a holding deposit if you haven't seen the property or you're not sure whether you’ll move in at all. That money will be simply lost to you.


8. Do an inventory before moving in


What exactly is an inventory and why is it important? An inventory is basically a document which describes in detail the condition of the property and all its contents in the moment when you move in.


The idea is that when you move out, the inventory can be checked to see if you're leaving the property in a good condition. It's a great idea to take photos when doing the inventory since it makes it way easier to prove what was the condition of the property when you moved in.


9. Remember to set up utility bills


Once you have move in, remember to set up all bills in your name – those will include gas, electricity, water and council tax. Ask your landlord about the providers of the services and let them know you have moved in.



It's not a bad idea to see whether there are providers who can sell you services cheaper – that is, if you feel that what you're about to pay is a bit too expensive. Check the pre-paid meter before you move in to see whether there's any debt on it.


Make sure that there are no outstanding bills owed by the previous tenant. If you find one,contact the landlord and the provider as soon as possible – you don't want to end up paying some else's bills!


Renting a property gives you all the comfort of having a nice home without actually owning one. Before you enter an agreement, make sure that you have full understanding of your rights, the landlord's obligations and measures of protecting yourself as a tenant.

Marleen Clover has a strong background in realty business. Currently she works for timeo.co.uk. - a UK opening times directory that enables to quickly check out opening and closing hours of stores, pharmacies, post offices, reastaurants such as KFC opening times, etc.


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