Moving out can be daunting and there are lots of things to consider to ensure that your next tenancy runs as smoothly as possible. Here’s a step by step tenant’s guide to renting that will answer many of the questions you have about tenancy.
How can I do to hear about new properties quickly?
Many online portals have property alerts that you can sign up to, but registering with a local agent offers you the chance to stay ahead of the competition and be one of the first to know if a property which meets your criteria comes onto the market. Since the market is very competitive, many rental homes are snapped up quickly. Being in contact with a letting agent could speed up your property search.
What is ARLA Propertymark and is it important?
ARLA Propertymark stands for Association of Residential Letting Agents and is the governing body of the lettings industry. ARLA Propertymark agents have a strict code of conduct and service level which they must work to and so by working with an agent who follows this you ensure that everything is done by the book and your best interests are looked after. It also gives you added protection that if you were not happy with the service, you could complain to ARLA Propertymark who would assist you in resolving the issue.
How many viewings should I book?
If you are only looking at property in one area, you could go up to 6 viewings if you want to avoid looking at the same type of thing over and over again. If you can stretch your preferences of area and/or your budget then you may want to book a few more to ensure you’ve seen a good representation of each area and price range.
What references do I need to provide?
The most important reference you will need to provide is one from your employer verifying that your earnings are as you’ve stated. If you have previously lived in rental accommodation, a reference from your previous landlord is required.
Am I a suitable tenant?
The ideal tenant is someone who pays their rent on time and doesn’t cause any damage to the property. That’s why a thorough background check is done on all prospective tenants. They are meant to highlight issues which may be of concern to landlords including; bad credit scores, debt, a criminal record, bankruptcy.
What if I’m not a suitable tenant?
Despite having a bad credit rating or previous debt, you may still be able to become a tenant if you’re using a guarantor, who might be a family member or friend that is a homeowner and is prepared to sign a contract stating that if you fail to pay your rent, they will be liable for it. This offers landlords added peace of mind that rent will be paid on time and in full.
Furnished or unfurnished?
This one depends on your personal preferences or situation, if you have personal furniture or not. Be careful though of wrongly assuming that going unfurnished will mean you pay less. Whichever option you go for, make sure it is crystal clear what state the home and furniture were in when you moved in and who is responsible for replacing or repairing it.
Will I get my deposit back?
Yes, you are entitled to receive your full deposit when you leave the property – as long as you leave it in the same condition as when you moved in. If the property needs to be professionally cleaned or there are any damages or repairs, the landlord may deduct the cost for rectifying these issues from your deposit. The letting agent or the deposit holding company can act as a mediator if there are any disputes over the deductions from the deposit.
What repairs & maintenance issues am I responsible for?
As a tenant, you are responsible for looking after internal decorations, furniture and equipment. There is an expectation for wear and tear to the property and landlords won’t be able to deduct this from your deposit so long as it’s reasonable. It is your duty as a tenant to report any maintenance or repair issues to the landlord in a reasonable amount of time to prevent the problem from worsening. Minor maintenance works such as changing light fittings and checking smoke alarms work all fall within your responsibilities as a tenant.
What repairs and maintenance issues is my landlord responsible for?
Landlords are responsible for the properties structure and exterior, as well as the sanitation fittings such as sinks, drains and pipes. Heating and hot water are also the responsibility of the landlord as are gas appliances and fittings.
What happens when I want to leave?
First review your contract to understand if you are on a fixed-term tenancy or a periodic one. If you are on a fixed-term agreement you must check if there is a break clause and what the terms are, otherwise you will have to continue paying rent until the end of the fixed term. If you are on a periodic tenancy your tenancy rolls on each time you make a payment so you will need to give notice equivalent to the gaps between payment e.g. if you pay monthly your notice is 1 month. Notice should be given in writing and you should always keep a copy for your own records. Include in the letter the property’s address, the date you will be leaving, and how the landlord can contact you.