As a tenant, renting property can feel like a minefield.
There are many potential problems to avoid, from disputes over repairs to late rental payments. Fortunately, help is at hand with some useful tips that will help you to keep your relationship with your landlord or tenants on track. Keep reading for our top renting rules and tips.
Know your rights
Knowing your rights will help protect yourself from unfair treatment, so it's wise to research this topic before moving into a rental property. For example, as a tenant, the law says you should be able to live in a property undisturbed.
You should also have a tenancy agreement that's fair and complies with the law, be protected from unfair rent and unfair eviction and live in a home that's in a good state of repair and is safe. At the start of your tenancy, you should be able to see an energy performance certificate, and you should have your deposit returned to you when your tenancy ends.
Stick to the terms of your tenancy agreement
Unless you're prepared to part with your deposit and potentially be evicted, you'll need to follow the rules in your tenancy agreement. This includes everything from paying your rent on time (even if you're in dispute with your landlord) to not subletting your property unless you have permission. It also means sticking to the agreed policies on issues such as smoking and keeping pets.
Make sure you take good care of your rental home too. As well as keeping the place clean, try to avoid causing damage. For instance, if you leave the property unoccupied during cold weather, turn off the water at the mains, so the pipes don't freeze and burst.
It's vital to always pay your rent on time. Rental payments should be your top financial priority so you can live in your home without worrying.
Do a thorough inventory check
In the excitement of moving into a new place, it's easy to overlook the importance of doing a detailed check of the property's inventory. However, if you skip this step, you could find it harder to get your deposit back when you move out.
It's a good idea to go into the empty property and take photos of everything. That way, you have proof of what was in the house when you moved in and the condition of everything – it's essential to document any existing issues. Doing this makes it harder for landlords to make deposit deductions at the end of the tenancy for things you haven't done.
If your landlord doesn't provide you with an inventory when you move in, ask for one. This document should list all property possessions, including appliances, flooring and furniture - and it should record their condition. Make sure you agree with everything on the list before you sign it - and take photos that can be used as evidence if there's a dispute when you're moving out.
Get permission before you make property improvements
Don't make the mistake of trying to improve the property without seeing if you need permission from your landlord first. Although you might be making the place nicer, these DIY projects could result in you losing part or all of your deposit when you move out. So, whether you want to repaint a room or put up a garden shed, check the terms of your tenancy agreement to see if you need permission. If you do, get your landlord's agreement in writing before you start any work.
Many landlords will be happy with how the property looks, so they may not want you to make changes. It's therefore important that you're happy to live there how it is just in case you're not allowed to change the appearance.
It's also important to consider that it is not your property, and you won't see a return on any money you spend on improving it.
Tell your landlord straight away if repairs are required
Most repairs are your landlord's responsibility, so if you spot signs of damage, it's crucial to get in touch with your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. You should only attempt repairs to your rental property if your tenancy agreement says you can.
Bear in mind that the vast majority of landlords want to know about any problems in their properties quickly, so they have the opportunity to fix these issues before they get any worse and cause further damage.
Make sure you're covered
No matter how careful you are, you can't eliminate the risk that your possessions will be damaged or stolen, so to ensure that you don't end up with a hefty bill, it's a good idea to get tenants' insurance. As well as cover for your possessions, consider getting a policy that includes tenancy liability insurance. This will protect you if you damage your landlord's furniture, fixtures or fittings. Remember that it's YOUR responsibility as a tenant to consider the right insurance for you and not your landlord's job. Do some research to find the right one that suits your needs!