Top things to do before renting a property

17 Oct 2016

Top things to do before renting a property
As people struggle to buy their own home in the current market, many are turning to renting properties instead.

However, as a tenant you will often end up spending around 70% of your income on rent. This can make the whole process seem rather daunting and stressful, particularly when trying to cut costs. As a result, we can often be tempted to rush into accepting well-priced properties as soon as they become available, often without doing much research - which isn't always a very sensible idea.

So, we have come up with a guide of the top things to do before renting a property.

Read the contract carefully

One of the first things that you should do before moving into any property is to carefully read the contract. This might seem obvious but tenants often make the mistake of not reading the contract fully before signing and therefore miss important details. This is not a wise move to make and can prove particularly costly. The tenancy agreement often stipulates the period of time that you are renting the property for, which is a fixed monthly period. Once you have signed this agreement, you are bound to honour it for that amount of time. You should seek advice if you are unsure about any of the details in your contract, especially sections that claim you as the tenant are liable.

Check that your deposit is protected

If you have paid a deposit for your property then the landlord is obliged to protect it by law. This is done in a government scheme that is independent of the landlord and any letting agency. The scheme acts as an independent adjudicator and offers you protection should any dispute arise between you and the landlord. It allows you to regain your deposit and the landlord must choose an appropriate scheme by law. You should then be provided with the information about this scheme for reference. Make sure that you check the landlord has done this as they are breaking the law if they haven’t done so.

Beware of hidden fees

If you’re using a letting agent to rent your property then you should be wary of hidden fees. Much like the contract, you should make sure that you read any agreements carefully as they could detail fees that you are liable to pay. There are a wide range of fees that you can be charged for, some of which will be unnecessary expenses. Considering you are already paying a large amount to rent the property, you don’t want to be hit with any extra hidden expenses. Some examples of the kind of fees you could be charged include;

  • Reference fees
  • Credit Check fee
  • Administration fee
  • Deposit Protection fee
  • Inventory report fee

These fees can cost upwards of £700 before you have even entered the property. Make sure that you choose a letting agent that’s a member of an approved association such as ‘The Association of Residential Lettings Agents,’ as they enforce a high code of conduct.

Make sure you check the inventory

When moving into a rental property you will receive an inventory report from the landlord. This can differ largely depending on whether you are moving into a fully furnished home or not. It also notes the condition of the property prior to the move and should state anything that is wrong with the property upon moving in. Make sure that you inspect all elements of the report before you move in and check that everything is correct. If anything looks out of place or isn’t included in the report, then inform the landlord and get it changed before signing anywhere. If you don't, you could be found liable for any damage that isn’t included in the inventory report.

Build a good relationship

Lastly, it is important that you build a good relationship with your landlord right from the start. This is crucial in making sure that you don’t have any problems during your tenancy. You should remember that the landlord isn’t your friend but you don’t want to make them your enemy. Make sure that all of your communications are polite and professional from the start. Getting off to a good start is vital for making things much easier for you in the long term.