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:
- Certificate of permanent residence in the UK
- Certification from the Home Office to show that you have ‘indefinite’ leave or a ‘right to abode’ in the UK
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.
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.