Advice for Tenants
Letting a property is not as simple as choosing one and simply paying over your money to the Letting Agent and picking up the keys. There are various procedures that you have to go through to get into a position where you can move into your new home and it is a good idea to prepare yourself for what can be a very confusing time.
The guide below is designed to give you some hints and tips on how to go about finding your perfect property whilst making sure that you are as prepared as you can be for what is to be expected of you.
Your starting point for letting a property should be doing some research to identify the areas you would like to rent in. It is a good idea to make a list of things that are important to you, such as schools, shopping areas, bars and so on. Be sure to share your list of preferences with your letting agent so that they can assist you in your search!
As the lettings business is so fast moving it is important that you remain as flexible as possible when it comes to viewing a property. If you are alerted to a property you like the look of, call the agent immediately as it would be such a shame if you missed out on the property of your dreams just because you thought you would wait a few hours to call! As the old saying goes, “you snooze, you lose”.
Also do not necessarily be put off by details in the property. If you don’t like the colour of a particular room, or there is furniture you would not want, have a chat with the agent. We encourage our landlords to be as flexible as they can if it means getting the right tenant into a property.
Make sure that you have your documents ready. It is not just a case of you choosing a property and the agent handing over the keys, far from it! The will need to take Identification from you to satisfy the Money Laundering Regulations and check your immigration status (if applicable) and forms will need to be filled in to actually apply for the property that you have in mind.
The form will ask for various information about you including your employer, your last 3 years addressed and even if you need a guarantor. The better prepared you are the smoother the process should be to get you into the property you want.
It is important that you do not sign the tenancy agreement unless you are positive that you want to rent the property as there is not any kind of cooling off period and the Landlord can hold you to the full term of the agreement once it is signed.
It is your responsibility to ask all of the relevant questions before you sign the document as once you move in it is too late to change your mind. Obviously signing a legal document like a tenancy agreement is a big step so make sure you have thought it through properly before you take the plunge.
Exercise extreme caution with who you share a property with, especially if each of you are signing the same tenancy agreement. If you do sign an agreement with other people then you make yourself liable for their share of the rent as well as yours and also for the cost of any damage that they might do to the property. The rule you should stick to is that you only sign a tenancy agreement with people that you fully trust.
Once you have signed the tenancy agreement and have picked up the keys, the first thing you should do is check the condition of the property (and any contents that form part of the agreement) against the Inventory that would have been conducted a few days previously.
If there is anything you do not agree with in the Inventory then make sure you make a note on the Inventory or email the office. Taking this course of action will assist you if you have a dispute regarding the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
When you leave the property a “check out” report will be conducted and this will be used to show the Landlord in what state the property has been left in. This report will be compared with the Inventory “check in” report and recommendations made to the Landlord.
Most tenants are sensible and always ensure that it is left in a clean and tidy manner with carpets cleaned and so on. In the event that deductions are recommended due to any issues that have been highlighted and you disagree with them (and you are unable to negotiate) then you can contact the scheme administrators of the tenancy deposit scheme used by the agent and a dispute can be lodged. Do not delay in dealing with this situation as there may be a time limit.
When you first move into the property, make sure you take up to date meter readings for all of the utilities (gas, electric and water). You should then contact the providers with these readings and they will open a new account for you. Failure to do this could mean you end up with inaccurate bills and have to pay more than you really should!
This is also relevant even if there is key or card meters in the property. The rule of the thumb is, if there is gas, electric or water in the property – call the companies to register! The same goes when you leave the property – take final meter readings and inform the utility companies with your forwarding address.
It is always a good idea to get yourself on to the electoral register when you move into a property. This obviously mean that you are able to vote in any up and coming elections but will also assist you in improving your credit score should you wish to apply for credit at some time in the future. To register you should contact your local council for guidance.
For further information, please refer to the How to Rent Guide produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government.