5 Things Tenants Need to Consider Before Renting A Home

October 02, 2018

Finding the right home to live in is important for everyone, regardless of whether it is owned or rented. Renting property certainly has its advantages but sometimes searching for the right home as a private renter can also be a daunting experience for those unfamiliar with the system in what is a very fast paced market. Luckily, a good estate agent will be able to help find a perfect match for landlords and tenants alike and ensure that everybody has the best possible experience. Here are the basics that prospective tenants need to consider.

Understanding Fees

Many landlords and property owners choose letting agents to manage their property tenancies. When applying for properties, tenants need to be aware that fees may be charged for a variety of essential services and some may need to be charged whether or not you enter a tenancy agreement through them. Your estate agent will be more than happy to provide a full breakdown of their charges to allow you to make a fully informed decision on your budget before agreeing to any service.

It is worth noting that the government is currently in the process of changing the law on fees, so there may be changes to be aware of in the near future. By choosing an estate agent, you can rent in confidence that this element of the rental process is always handled in accordance with the very latest laws and regulations, helping to protect you and your finances.

Credit Checks

Your home, whether rented or owned, is one of your biggest expenses. It is natural, therefore, that landlords need to know that the people taking on the tenancy are going to be able to pay the rent. Most letting agents and landlords with larger property portfolios will undertake credit reference searches on prospective tenants to check they can afford it. As well as protecting the landlord, it also protects you by ensuring that you do not enter into an agreement for a rent that is simply unaffordable. Due to the rules on how credit checks work, tenants will normally be expected to pay for these checks to be carried out. The letting agent will also incur costs for this service.

Tenancy Deposits

It is common practice for tenants to pay a deposit upon entering a tenancy agreement. This is a sum of money separate to any rent payments which acts as security for the landlord in case of damage occurring or the tenants leaving without paying.

By law, a private tenancy deposit must be placed in a government backed tenancy deposit scheme to protect that money for the duration of the tenancy. The schemes ensure tenants get their deposit back providing they have met three criteria: they have met the terms of their tenancy agreement, they have not damaged the property and they have paid all rent plus bills they are responsible for. In the event of any dispute, the scheme will continue to hold the deposit sum until it is resolved.

Renting from a trusted estate agents means you can submit your deposit with the peace of mind of knowing that it will be fully protected and only withheld on exit if there are valid grounds.

Tenancy Agreement

The tenancy agreement is the contract between the tenants and the landlord which lays out all the terms and conditions. For most types of tenancy, the law allows verbal contracts but best practice is to have the agreement outlined in a written document. This will always be the case with a professional estate agent.

The tenancy agreement must be fair and comply with the law. It should outline the key information such as the landlords full name and address, rent payment details and agreed responsibilities, for example; who pays the household charges like council tax and water rates or who should maintain any gardens or grounds included within the tenancy.

Inventory & Repairs

Most landlords and letting agents will compile an inventory document for tenants before they move in and again at the end of the tenancy. Its purpose is to clearly record the condition of the property, fixings and any furniture (if included within the tenancy). Tenants should read and check this carefully to make sure they agree with what is written and to add anything else they have noticed which is not already included. The landlord may request that the tenant takes out a contents insurance policy to protect items included on the inventory. This is highly recommended and can help tenants to protect their deposit.

When the time comes to leave the property, there is an agreed record available for all parties to refer to in case of any disagreements or dispute over the deposit.

For the duration of the occupation, tenants are obliged to keep the property in a reasonable condition and promptly report any needs for repairs or maintenance to either the letting agent or landlord, depending on who the contract states should be contacted, they should then ensure the work is completed within a reasonable time. Tenants remain liable to pay for any damage or neglect they cause that falls outside any reasonably expected wear and tear. The key to an enjoyable tenancy is to communicate regularly with your letting agent and never be afraid to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.

At Zaza Johnson & Bath, we have over 40 years of experience letting properties in Shropshire. To find out more about renting or letting with your trusted local estate agent, call us today on 01743 248351.