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January 13, 2020
Tagged in: Tips for Renters

By Neeraj Gupta

Moving into a new home can be a fun, exciting, and joyful thing for all that live there.

Globally, the current housing market indicates that more and more people are forced to rent until the economy improves, and lower deposit rates return.

Renting can be seen as dead money as you don't own the property, but it has a lot of positives, in particular, the tenants don't have to worry if the boiler breaks down as property maintenance and repairs are the legal responsibility of the landlords.

Although property renting is fairly straight forward, there are still things that new tenants must watch out for and check before they rent. I have been renting for the last one and a half years, and it's only through trial and error and facing problems that I have been conscious of these issues.

Gas and Electrical Safety Certificate

Every property that is let out to rent MUST have both a gas and electrical safety certificate on the property. The gas safety certificate by law must be renewed annually due around the date of the previous test the year before.

  • Your landlord must also have an electrical safety check done each time there is a change of tenancy or if the tenancy has been living in the property for more than five years. This is a mandatory check to test for any faults that the previous tenants may have incurred.
  • You should check and ask to see the copies before you move in; if you're letting through an agency, then they should also have copies of the certificates and provide you a copy when requested.
  • If a letting agency or landlord refuses to check performed on its due time frame, you should communicate with your local citizen's advice office.

Security Deposit 

Before you get the keys, you will always have to put down a security deposit down. This is intended to compensate the landlord; if the tenant caused damage to the property, he can be reimbursed to fix the repairs accordingly.

  • Each agency runs things differently, but one point remains clear, your deposit must be held in a secure bank account so that it is protected.
  • You are well within your rights to seek confirmation about where your deposit is being held and the details of the bank/holder. 
  • Challenging a dispute will differ according to the lettings agencies rules, some letting agents will do the checks on behalf of the landlord and charge what they believe to be suitable damage, but some agencies let their Landlords deal with the itinerary themselves.

Personally, I would rather the lettings agency deal with this part. If you don't get along with your landlord, this can be difficult when it comes down to damage disputes, and having a pair of unbiased eyes on the job can help settle things straight.

The Itinerary

Before moving into the property, the letting agency should provide you with an itinerary that outlines the condition of the property and any damage that's present. You should spend a lengthy amount of time studying this and checking the overall condition of the property.

  • Take your time to closely examine each room paying attention to everything in sight.
  • Things that you should check for damage to any windows, doors, carpets, or any snags in them. You should check light fixtures paying closer attention to any detailed fixtures or anything in the property that is of great value. If the property has any floor or bathroom tiles fitted, these should also be checked, mirrors too.
  • Check that all the doors close and function correctly, all windows and locks open and lock without issue. Check the central heating system and any other built-in appliances.
  • Other smaller things to check for are loose or unstable floorboards, any minor defects such as plaster that are coming away from the wall, wallpaper that's falling off, or any mold or funny smells. Signs of mold and funny smells could be a sign of a bigger cause, so make sure you document these things.

Keeping Pets

You can keep pets with you as long as:

  • It is not specifically excluded in the tenancy agreement, and
  • It doesn't cause trouble for neighbors.

If there's a word in your tenancy agreement that bans pets, you can ask your landlord to turn it off to allow you to have a pet.

In certain cases, a landlord may resist making a reasonable adjustment in the agreement if they have a sound reason for health and safety concerns.

Damage to the Property 

Your landlord is responsible for all external structural repairs. Tenants are normally responsible for internal decoration and for making sure that furniture and other contents, fixtures, and fittings are not damaged.

  • Your exact liabilities will normally be specified in the tenancy agreement.
  • Though you must take care of the property by reasonable actions expected from your side, for example, cleaning, unblocking the drains and mending fuses.
  • You need to report the landlord about any damage situation, like, a leak in the roof.

If your landlord deducts some money out of your deposit, you should make a check over the agreed inventory to see what the amount was assumed to cover. In case of property damage, it will be more ideal to handle the repairs yourself before the landlord comes for the inspection and charge you for the cost of required repairs.

Hold the Tenancy Contract

If you're going through a letting agency, then you will be provided with a contract to sign. The contract will outline the length of the tenancy and the conditions that you are obliged to follow under the tenancy agreement.

Read and understand the terms that you're signing up to. If you can't understand the legality, ask for confirmation from the letting agent. Also, check the length of the tenancy and also ask about the conditions in which you can break the agreement. Some contracts are a non-break, which means that once signed the tenant, and the landlord cannot break the contract until it expires.