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Tenants! Avoid these top renting pitfalls

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11/10/2017
Tenants! Avoid these top renting pitfalls

Renting a property can throw up challenges for even the most experienced tenants, if you’re unprepared, says ARLA Propertymark.

From losing your deposit to falling foul of unprofessional landlords, there are pitfalls you’ll want to avoid and top tips you should take heed of to make the experience as smooth and easy as possible.

The trade body has put together its own list of tenant tips to help them understand their rights.

Sally Lawson, president of ARLA Propertymark, said: “With more and more people completely priced out of the property market and a desperate shortage of housing, private rentals have become the norm. However, there is a lot to consider when choosing a property to rent and there can be a lot of unanswered questions which can be overwhelming.

“The below checklist has been created to make sure your next letting experience is a positive one, including all there is to know on the process to make it as simple and stress-free as possible.” 

Do the maths: What can you afford?
Decide what you can afford before you start house-hunting. Remember you will also have to budget on top of your rent for your household bills; including things like gas, electricity and water, internet connection, TV licence, contents insurance and Council Tax, as well as food and general household items.
 
Using a letting agent
If you are using a letting agent, make sure they are a member of ARLA Propertymark as they have Client Money Protection (CMP). This ensures that if the agent goes bust or runs off with your money, Propertymark will reimburse you and make sure you’re not left out of pocket. You do not get this protection if you rent directly from a landlord or through an unregulated letting agent.
 
Ensure you are protected
You are entering a legally binding agreement so don’t feel pressured into signing immediately. Make sure you take your time and read the contract thoroughly. Ask as many questions as you want to, until you’re comfortable you understand everything it contains. If you’re not happy, ask for any changes or amendments you want.
 
Know your rights
Before you sign your tenancy agreement, you will be asked to provide proof that you have the right to live in the UK so make sure you have your passport to hand. After you sign the contract, you must be given a copy of your new home’s gas safety certificate (if the property has gas), Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), the Government’s How to Rent guide, your deposit protection certificate and any license for your property from the local council (where licensing schemes exist).
 
Make sure your new home is safe
Smoke alarms are required on all floors of your home and carbon monoxide detectors in any room where solid fuels are burnt (such as wood, coal or biomass). These need to be tested and working on the first day of the tenancy.
 
Sort out the bills and insurances
If this hasn’t been done by your agent, notify the utility companies and give them meter readings, your move-in date, and the names of all the new tenants. Make sure you also have contents insurance; the landlord is required to insure the building and their own contents but you need to cover your own belongings in the event of theft or damage.
 
Address issues before they become problems
Don’t be afraid to report repairs to your landlord or agent. It’s much easier, faster and cheaper for your landlord to fix an issue when you first notice it than when the issue becomes a big problem. Also, if you’re going away for more than a couple of weeks, tell your landlord or agent so they can keep an eye on the property.
 
Return the property as you found it
Most deposit disputes are over the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. Make sure you give the property a thorough clean before you move out and leave the property in the same condition as the day you arrived.

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