Professional letting agents have to look out for the interests of both their landlords and tenants, so being aware of the various responsibilities when renting a property is key to a better understanding of the process, and hopefully a pain-free rental.
Be realistic about what you can afford every month, and factor in bills and the sizeable deposit that all letting agents will insist on. One thing that will smooth things over during your tenancy is regular and on-time payments of your rent! A “good tenant” will find their letting agent and landlord far more flexible on other issues.
2. Don’t forget the other costs
Other fees imposed by all letting agents include credit checks and admin fees at the start of your tenancy – feel free to ask exactly what these are up front and factor them into your calculations. The other significant cost is likely to be the removal men, unless you’ve got some burly friends with a van to help you (or not much stuff).
3. Be careful of your credit rating
Experian will soon be including rent payments on your credit file, so missed payments could affect your overall credit rating. Another reason to make sure you pay on time, every time. Also if you’re flat-sharing beware of being jointly named on utility bills or sharing any financial arrangement, as a default could affect both parties’ credit score even if you were stumping up your share.
4. Maintenance of the property
If you feel some maintenance is required to the property then ask for it to be done, or at least scheduled and agreed, before you sign. Draughty doors are fine in summer but will suddenly become a big deal when the winter sets in and a cold wind is whistling round your feet and undermining your expensive heating. Check the boiler has been checked recently, and that the lettings agency will send someone to repair it quickly if necessary – not 2 weeks later.
5. Locate the stopcock
Sounds like a boring DIY detail but being able to turn off all the water in the house quickly will prevent a minor leak or burst pipe from turning into a major flooding incident, saving money and hassle for everyone. Ask where the stopcock is and make sure it can be turned off (most are little-used and can become very hard to turn).
It’s always easier to take over existing services (gas and electricity supplies) than to have them disconnected and reconnected every time; in fact some landlords will insist on keeping the same suppliers to avoid this hassle. Newlife Lettings will help smooth out this process – don’t worry, we’ve done it many times before.
7. Break clauses
Check if there is a break clause which the landlord could activate – a month is the standard notice period but it could be as little as a week especially if the property is the landlord’s home rather than a long-term let property. If you don’t want to be moved on in such a short time, then check the small print (or ask us!).
8. Tenant Deposit Scheme
Your deposit should be kept safe by your letting agent so it can’t be “lost” if the agent goes out of business for example. Newlife Lettings are members of the DPS (Deposit Protection Service) so you know that your deposit money is in safe hands.
The landlord will generally provide buildings insurance (so you’re covered in case the roof is damaged by high winds for example) but you will be required to cover your possessions (“contents” insurance). If you’re renting a part-furnished property there may be contents cover in place already, so check before signing up.
This is where most disputes arise – the condition of the property and its interior fittings, whether that stain was there before or not, whether you broke the landlord’s fancy kettle and replaced it with a Tesco Basics £5 one etc. Take the time to agree everything on the inventory and all should be well.
Feel free to take pictures of walls, rooms, carpets and so on to record the state of them as you move in, since as your letting agents we’ll do the same anyway! That way we can agree on the condition and avoid disputes later.