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.

How to Save Enough Money to Move Out

If you are stuck at home, living with your parents, here is a guide on how to make your dream of moving out a reality.

Cut your outgoings

You can save more money towards moving out by spending less money on:

  • Mobile phone: On a contract? Ask if you can switch to a SIM only deal in order to save money: or better yet, haggle for a lower price.
  • Travel costs: If you drive, see if you can make your car insurance cost cheaper. Switching to public transport or car sharing could save you money too. Travel by train or bus? Check if a railcard could decrease the cost and book in advance to save.
  • Entertainment: Nights out, Cinema tickets, Netflix, drinks at the pub, they all add up.

Keeping track of a budget to find out where your money is going and where you can eliminate costs is a great place to begin too.

Earn extra cash

If you work full-time, your salary is likely to be your primary source of income, so asking for a pay raise could really help your efforts.

There are many ways to earn a little extra too:

  • Sell your old and unwanted stuff online
  • Sell your old mobile phones
  • Make use of a penny jar or a coin bank to save up your loose change
  • Look for cashback credit cards to earn extra cash on your spending

Talk to your parents

Paying rent is good because it will help you prepare for your financial commitments once you move out. However, it will slow down your savings efforts.

Talk to you parents regarding how much rent you have to pay, and whether part of it could be placed towards your moving out fund.

Sharing how much you are saving per month with your parents can also be a great idea, as it can help them see that you are really working towards your goal.

Look for the best home for your savings

Receiving a decent return on your savings could help you move out faster, so it is worth looking for the best savings account you can avail:

  • Regular savings accounts can offer more attractive interest rates. However, you will only be able to save a set amount, typically between £100 and £500, every month,
  • High-interest current accounts usually beat the leading savings account rates. However, it limits the amount of money that you can earn interest on.
  • Peer to peer savings offers attractive returns by letting borrowers online loan your money. However, they have their high risks.

Work out how much cash you need

To move out, you need:

  • To earn enough money to pay for your ongoing costs, including council tax, utility bills, and rent
  • Enough money saved to pay for upfront costs including your agent fees and rental deposit

These amounts depend on your plans after leaving home. However, common ongoing costs include:

Broadband and PhoneService Charges
Gas and ElectricityWater Bills
Council TaxRent of Mortgage

If you plan to rent

The upfront costs will be smaller. However, you will still need to save up for a rental deposit which is usually around two months’ rent.

There are also letting agent fees to pay for, including the costs of reference checks, and the costs of moving your belongings to your new home.

Some landlords also charge you for professional cleaning services or a holding fee to keep the property vacant until your contracts are finalised.

If you plan to buy

You will need to save enough money for a house deposit, which is normally at least 5% of the property value.

You also have to pay for solicitor fees, mortgage fees, and other costs when you buy – which implies that the upfront cost will be quite substantial.

What if the cost is too high?

If you are worried that the cost of paying everything yourself is too expensive, then there are ways to earn savings:

  • Look for smaller properties: Whether you plan to rent or buy, you will have to pay more money for larger properties. If you want to bring the cost down, you might need to look for studio flats or leaving the spare room.
  • Rent with other people: Sharing the cost of renting with a flatmate can make it a lot cheaper and more affordable. If you know people who are planning to move out soon, talk to them about teaming up, alternatively look at rooms in flat shares.

You have to pay for Council Tax whether you decide to rent or buy. However, you could receive a discount in some cases, for example, if you live alone, so check whether you could save some costs.

Before you move

As you approach your moving day, there are plenty of things to sort out before leaving home.

It is a good idea to make a checklist of all the companies and people that you need to inform regarding your new address, so you do not miss anyone off.

How Should You Make Payments for Your Rental Deposit?

Deposits, letting agent fees, and rent are increasing in price. Here is a guide on how to pay your deposit and whether you should consider using a credit card or borrowing the money.

Your mode of payment

Your method of payment is up to your letting agent or your landlord, but they may let you pay by:

Private landlords sometimes accept cash. If you pay with cash, secure a receipt in case you need proof of the amount of your payment in the future.

If you already have the money saved up, using this is normally your cheapest option. If you can not yet afford a deposit, you need to borrow the money or save up.

How to quickly save up a deposit

You can save for a deposit by setting aside as much as you can afford every month into a savings account. Increase the amount that you can save by:

  • Decreasing your cost of living
  • Sticking to a budget

Could you borrow the money for the rent instead?

You could borrow money if you do not have enough saved for a deposit. You can pay it back after several months.

However, the interest you pay can make it much more costly than using the money that you have saved. Paying back a loan can also make it more difficult for you to afford your rent.

Some landlords normally prefer tenants who have saved up enough cash for a deposit. This is because it determines that you are financially reliable.

Some might not allow you to rent their property if you are in debt because you could find it hard to afford your rent as well as the repayments for your loan.

Can you pay a deposit using a credit card?

Yes, some leasing agents allow you to pay your deposit using a credit card. However, they often charge you a fee of 2% of the deposit amount or more.

Private landlords usually do not accept credit card payments. Also, some letting agents do not accept them either.

This is because landlords can not usually accept credit card payments, and they cost more for letting agents process the payments.

If you decide to pay by using your credit card, you could pick one that offers interest-free purchases. This could allow you to pay back the deposit amount over several months without interest charges.

Can you avail a loan for your rental deposit?

There are a lot of ways to borrow money, including:

  1. An interest-free money transfer credit card
  2. An interest-free overdraft
  3. A personal loan

Be sure that you can be able to pay the repayments on top of your rent and the rest of your living expenses before you apply for any kind of loan.

Can you borrow from family or friends?

If your family, parents, or friends can loan you the money for your deposit, this could be a much cheaper option, especially if they do not charge interest.

Ensure that you get your deposit back

When you move out, you should get your deposit back if you:

  1. Make on-time payments for your rent
  2. Not damage anything while you live in the place
  3. Make the property tidy and clean when you move out
  4. Follow the terms of your tenancy agreement

Check if your money will be safe

Estate agents and landlords cannot keep your deposit in their own bank account. They are required to pay it into a Tenancy Deposit Plan (TDP).

This hinders them from spending the money. It also gives you the extra protection that could assist you to get your money back when you move out.