What’s Involved In Renting A Property?

Renting a room in a flat or a house can be a big step for some, and you need to make sure that the right things are in place when you agree on a rental to ensure that your stay doesn’t become an unpleasant one.

Landlords must provide you with certain information before, during, and at the conclusion of your tenancy, so before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself the following questions:

What Is My Current Situation?

Think about where you are right now, how much you can afford, and the area where you want to live. Whether you want to relocate for work, or are looking for a bigger place for you and your family, work out the sums and figure out how much you can set aside each month for rent.

Before you commit to a rental, you should ensure that you can budget accordingly and be able to live within your means, as this can cause problems further down the line if you’re not careful.

If you are on benefits of any sort, you may be able to get support to help you successfully budget. If you’re struggling to afford payments or to live within your means, it can be worth seeking advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, who can guide you from financial problems to resolving issues with landlords.

What Sort Of Property Do I Want To Live In?

People move house for different reasons – either for work, to relocate a family or just for a change of scenery – and with a wide range of property types available for rental, you have a lot of choices depending on where you want to live.

Research is key when deciding your next destination, so spend some time looking into the local area and the properties in the vicinity of your proposed new home. Most property websites will offer this sort of information, but it can be worth checking out the area yourself just to be sure.

After you’ve viewed the property and are happy with your selection, there are a few things you should check before you sign your contract or tenancy agreement.

What Should I Show My Landlord?

You must ensure that you have your documents to hand before you sign your tenancy agreement, these can include:

Other documents that can qualify include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Driving licence
  • Evidence of a release from custody from HM Prison Service
  • Evidence of previous or current service in HM Armed Forces
  • HMRC paperwork that shows that you are currently receiving benefits or Jobseekers’ Allowance

There are some other documents which may be required, so it’s vital to ask your landlord or letting agent what is required as this can vary from company to company.

What Should My Landlord Be Able To Show Me?

Before you sign anything, check that your landlord can provide the following information about the property:

  • Gas safety certificate
  • Confirmation of your deposit – which should be protected through a government-approved scheme
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Records of electrical inspections

Ensure the property is safe before you move in. If you’re unsure as to when something has been repaired, or have reservations about the condition of something within the property, flag this up and don’t be afraid to ask the landlord or agent about the state of it. Look out for the following things:

  • Does it have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?
  • Are the fixtures and fittings in a good condition?
  • Are you allowed children or pets on the property?
  • Is the property smoke-free?
  • Who is responsible for paying the bills – yourself or the landlord?

If you’re renting through a letting agency, it’s vital to check that they give you a full breakdown of the fees involved in renting a property from them, these should be marked both at their office and on their company website.

Check as well that your landlord or letting agent is registered and accredited in your local area and also through professional bodies such as the National Landlords Association (NLA) and SAFEagent.

Your landlord or letting agent should also have a landlord insurance policy in place, and they must by law be able to produce this, should you request them to do so.

What Should Be On My Tenancy Agreement?

Your tenancy agreement should essentially be an agreement between you and the landlord that you will keep to specific terms and conditions during your stay, including the cost of rent per month and a breakdown of what is included in your rent.

It should also state who covers maintenance costs, is responsible in certain situations and what procedures are in place in case of natural disasters such as flooding, as well as an agreement to allow the landlord access to carry out routine checks on the property.

Get that the contact details of your landlord, including the telephone number, so that they can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Know your rights and responsibilities when you’re a tenant by visiting this site.

What Should My Landlord Do?

Your landlord will have certain obligations within the tenancy agreement, and should be responsible for the following:

  • Regularly review and maintain the structure and exterior of the property, carrying out or arranging for repairs to be carried out – being sure to give you plenty of notice
  • Resolve issues to do with problems with the utilities
  • Arrange safety checks for gas, electricity and ensure the property is fitted with smoke alarms

Landlords must also ensure that they give their tenants plenty of notifications with regards to visiting the property to carry out routine checks. They should also provide notice of concerns about eviction in case they choose to sell the property.

What Happens At The End Of My Tenancy?

When the end of your tenancy is approaching, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to stay on the property or move on. In both cases, you should ensure that you meet the following conditions:

  • Your rent and bills have been paid and are up to date

Your landlord may agree to extend your tenancy, and so a new tenancy agreement will need to be drawn up with updated dates and amounts, and your landlord must give you plenty of notice as to any proposed increases in rent.

Should you choose to leave the property, you must give notice to your landlord – usually, two months prior – and ensure that when you vacate the property, you take all your possessions with you, take meter readings, return the keys to the landlord, and leave the property in a satisfactory state.

Bear in mind that any damage caused to the property, including wear and tear, could be taken from your deposit, so be sure to keep an inventory and a checklist of what should be checked at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

Home Insurance for Unoccupied Properties

When a house is vacated, it can be for one of the following reasons:

  • The property is undergoing refurbishment or renovation.
  • The property is up for sale or is awaiting the arrival of new tenants
  • The current occupier is absent due to being in a hospital, taken into long-term care, is currently travelling or is at a residence in a second home.
  • The property is awaiting probate, usually during the awaiting of decisions on asset division following the death of the owner.

Properties can also be vacated while they are being brought up to scratch, and safe to inhabit again – including repairing properties that have sustained damage as a result of subsidence.

Do I need insurance while no-one is living there?

While properties remain unoccupied, they are at risk of thieves and squatters, who could cause further damage to the property, in many cases decreasing not only the appeal but also the value of the property.

Many insurers may invalidate policies if the property is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days, any claims made after this time may not pay out due to the increase in risk caused by vacating the property.

In this case, unoccupied home insurance can help to cover damage caused by the elements, flood and fire damage and damage from third parties (including vandalism) while you are not there. Unoccupied home insurance can be handy to have in order to lower the costs involved with owning an unoccupied property.

Policies can last from anything from 30-45 days in the short-term, to anything up to twelve months for longer policies. It’s worth asking your insurer about your options should you need long-term cover, either as a result of refurbishment works or during periods between rentals if you use the property as a holiday home.

Isn’t that just the same as my current home insurance?

Not so, unoccupied home insurance has a few differences between it and a regular home insurance policy, mostly because of the risk factor involved at times when the property is vacant.

Insurers will want to know the following details about your property:

  • How much is the property worth?
  • What condition is the property currently in?
  • Is there any security in place on the property?

These factors can affect the price you pay for a policy, particularly if the property is dilapidated and needs structural repairs to make the property safe.

Unoccupied properties are at a greater risk of damage from vandals if they’re not already damaged beyond repair. Those in a poor state of repair will likely need critical repairs carried out on them, and as such, may also be at risk from damage from negligent workmen, so always be sure that whoever you hire to do the job is reliable and trustworthy.

I can’t be there all the time! How can I protect the house?

Fear not, there are a number of things you can do to lessen the risk of damage to your property while you are not there:

  • Invest in some security – this can consist of a stronger set of locks, both on doors and windows in order to lessen the likelihood of a break-in while you’re not present.
  • Consider installing some sort of burglar alarm system or CCTV system in order to help deter intruders (and maybe bring down the cost of your unoccupied home insurance policy).
  • In times of cold weather, make use of a time-controlled heating system in order to stop the water pipes from freezing up during chilly times, lessening the chance of a costly rupture.
  • With today’s technology, there are now a number of companies which allow you to control your heating using a tap of your smartphone, so it can be worth looking into one of these for keeping the house’s temperature, reducing the risk of damp while the house is vacant.
  • Strike up a good rapport with your neighbours – if you get on well with your neighbours, they are more likely to help keep an eye on your property while you’re not there. Whether it’s to draw the curtains of a night-time or alert you to any untoward activity around your property, it can pay to be a good friend in order to ensure your property’s safety.

Insurers will not normally pay out on an unoccupied home insurance claim if there is evidence of unforced entry into the property, so it can be worth investing in some good locks to help save on your policy.

Whether you’ve been forced to vacate your property for reasons beyond your control or choose to leave the property vacated as a result of renting it out, make sure you have at least some level of cover as this can help save on costly repairs.

How to Avoid First-time Buyer Regrets

A staggering 10% of first-time buyers regret buying their first home, but you don’t have to make sacrifices that you will regret or exhaust your savings just to get your foot on the property ladder.

First-time regrets

We have discovered that first-time buyers are experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression because of the sacrifices that they are making in order to buy their first home.

Of the 750 new homeowners that have been surveyed:

· Over 25% moved far away from work

· 40% had to separate from their family

· 10% had to transfer to an area with greater flood risk

· 1 in 7 transferred to a higher crime area

Our home buying tips

Here are some fast and simple ways to save money buying your first house:

· Check how much you could be able to borrow before you start scouting properties. This way you will be able to know how much you can afford and what you need to save as a deposit.

· Look for government schemes which are designed to assist you so you can afford your first home. The Help to Buy scheme grants an interest-free loan for five years for new build properties.

· The higher your deposit, the better the deal you will receive and the more you will be able to afford. It might be worth it to hold on for as long as you can and save up before buying in an area that is not suitable for you.

· Look at obtaining a Help to Buy ISA since free cash from the government is too good to refuse.

· Do not just take a mortgage with your existing banks since you might not get the best deal. Shop around for your mortgage instead.