How to rent a property

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How to rent a property.  This all depends on what kind of property you need:

  1. Do you like a bath or a shower?  Some rental properties do not have both.
  2. Do you need a garden for the children to play in, hang the clothes out in the summer to dry or somewhere to let the dog out?
  3. If the property has a garden, you will need to keep it in good condition.
  4. How close do you need to be to transport links/shops?
  5. Do you need a parking space?
  6. Furnished or unfurnished?  If you are thinking of a flat or house share, will your co-tenant look after the furniture?
  7. Decide whether you want a flat/apartment or house.
  8. What can you realistically afford, a small flat or larger house?  Jot your outgoings here, work out how much you can afford.
  9. Do you have a pet?  Some landlords are not pet friendly so make sure you tell your estate agent whether if you have a pet.

How to find a property to rent?

You can use an estate agent or online lettings estate agent, Rightmove or Prime Location.

What questions should you ask the estate agent?

  • Make sure you let the agent know whether you are looking for a yearly tenancy or a six month tenancy.  You can request a yearly tenancy with a six month break clause which gives you and the landlord the right to end a yearly contract half way through by giving either party notice to terminate the contract.
  • If you decide to stay on after the tenancy, will the rent be the same?
  • How many people have viewed the property?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Is the landlord open to negotiating the rental price?
  • If there is no washing machine/dishwasher/tumble dryer, would the landlord install one or mind whether you install one?
  • If the property has a garden, is there a lawnmower?

What to look for when you view a property?

If you wouldn’t live with it, your landlord shouldn’t expect you to.

  • Is the property well maintained?  Run all the taps and flush the toilet – are they fully working?  Is there exposed wiring, leaky taps, damp etc.  Ask the landlord to get a contractor in to put it right before you commit to the agreement.
  • What furniture will be provided (you may want a property unfurnished or fully furnished).
  • What is the heating like, does it work?  Does the property have a combi boiler/storage heating or log burners?  What is your preference?  How much is the average monthly bills for heating?
  • Do you know much about the area – will you feel safe?  Talk to neighbours if possible to get a feel of the area.
  • How adequate are the locks?  Check windows and doors for locks and whether they open freely (so you have access to an escape route at all times).
  • Is there a parking space (if you are potentially renting a flat/apartment).
  • How far are transport links/shops?

What are the landlords responsibilities:

  • To ensure safety responsibilities are in order.
  • gas safe registered engineer should have completed gas works and the property should have a gas safety certificate in place (these should be carried out yearly and/or at the start of each tenancy.
  • To ensure the property’s electrical installation and all appliances are safe.  (If you find a problem during the tenancy, alert the landlord straight away in writing (everything should stay in proper working order throughout the term of the tenancy)).
  • The property should have a periodic inspection carried out by a registered electrician every five years (if the property is a house in multiple occupation.
  • All appliances should have the CE marking.
  • All fixtures and fittings supplied are fire safe.
  • The property should have an Energy Performance Certificate which will tell you how much electricity and gas the property uses.  A property with a rating of F or G are the biggest drain financially on your monthly bills.
  • The appliances should be PAT tested.  Click here to see what the pat sticker looks like (you should find one on every appliance).
  • To ensure there is a working smoke alarm(s) in the property.
  • To ensure there is a fire alarm(s) in the property.
  • To ensure there is a carbon monoxide detector(s) in the property.
  • To comply with The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
  • To ensure there is a fire extinguisher(s) (if your property is a house with multiple occupation).
  • To ensure if the property is leasehold that he/she has permission to sub-let the property.
  • To have an MHO licence in place (if the property is in multiple occupation)
  • To give you a copy of the buildings insurance policy.

What happens when you find a property to rent?

  • Fill in the estate agents application form.
  • Pay the estate agent a fee (usually non-refundable).
  • You will then be referenced.
  • At this stage you will need to ensure that your paperwork is in order.  You may be asked to provide the following:
    • Your bank details.
    • Last three months bank statements.
    • Last three months pay slips.
    • Your last addresses for the last three years.
    • Photo ID.
    • Reference from previous and current employer.
    • Reference from previous and current landlord.
    • You may need to have a guarantor (a parent will be fine).

If you do not pass the referencing check, you may need to find a guarantor (a parent will be fine).

Once you have passed the referencing stage, you will agree a move in date with the landlord and you will sign a tenancy agreement.  Ask to see their standard tenancy agreement.  You have the right to make additions of your own within reason.

Your landlord will then protect your deposit and send you:

  • a copy of the deposit protection certificate/receipt.
  • Prescribed Information.
  • A deposit protection scheme leaflet.

The Deposit Protection schemes in England and Wales are:

Deposit Protection Service

MyDeposits

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

There are separate tenancy deposit protection schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What happens when you move in to a rented property?

  • Contact your local council to register your move for Council Tax payments.
  • Find out who your gas/electric/water suppliers are, submit readings. Click here for a handy when you move checklist.
  • Find contents insurance and work out how much you will need (optional).
  • Ensure you have a copy of the buildings insurance policy from your landlord.
  • Take photographs of each room including walls/floors/appliances etc in close detail when you move in.  You may need these if you end up in a dispute at the end of the tenancy with your landlord.
  • What happens if you want to end the tenancy agreement early?

You are responsible for paying the rent for the term of the tenancy unless you have a break clause in the agreement or you can come to a mutually agreeable end to the tenancy with your landlord.  If no break clause is in place, you may need to pay your way out of the agreement – the cost of that is up to the landlord.

What happens at the end of the tenancy?

  • The property will be checked carefully by the landlord and he/she will make notes of any damages etc.
  • The landlord will then liaise with you to discuss any issues.
  • Once both parties are in agreement, the landlord will need to return the deposit to you within 10 days.
  • If you are in a dispute with your landlord, you both need to agree on what amount is to be returned.
  • The deposit is protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is settled.

What can be deducted from your deposit at end of the tenancy?

Deductions can only be taken when there is physical damage to property (not wear and tear).

What is wear and tear?

Light marks on the carpet would be classed as wear and tear, however nail varnish, iron burns or damage caused through negligence would not.  If the carpet was cheap and flimsy, it cannot expect it to last the distance if you are a large family.  Consideration must be taken on whether the item was originally of a good quality when making a judgement.

Cleaning/repair at end of tenancy.

In considering whether cleaning/repair is necessary or complete replacement at the end of the tenancy, check your photographs to decide what condition everything was in.

How much can be deducted from a deposit?

The amount cannot be decided by anyone other than the landlord. Check out the guide to deposits disputes and damages from the TDS.

Here is a great website to give you further advice and guidance on this.

Disputes

The TDP scheme’s dispute resolution service will help if both parties cannot agree how much deposit is to be returned.

Contact your TDP scheme regarding their dispute resolution service.  The schemes are:

Deposit Protection Service

MyDeposits

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Help and advice

You can get more help and advice from:

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