If you’re about to rent a property for the first time, it can be almost as daunting as buying.
After all, you could be moving out of the family home for the first time and suddenly you’re responsible for bills, looking after yourself and ensuring you stick to the terms of a tenancy agreement.
Or you could be renting for the first time after a change in circumstances, having been a homeowner previously.
Either way, renting brings with it a lot of responsibility and there are a host of things you should and shouldn’t do when renting…
1. Pay your rent on time, every time
It sounds obvious, but paying your rent in full and one time is the most important responsibility you’ll have when renting.
Your landlord could evict you if you fail to pay your rent as you’ll be breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement.
Paying your rent on time can also help boost your credit score, so there’s as much of an incentive there as there is to keep your landlord happy and keep the roof over your head.
2. Insure your belongings
While it’s your landlord’s responsibility to protect the property you rent with adequate buildings insurance, if you rent the property unfurnished and have your own belongings inside, it’s your responsibility to protect them.
Get your contents insurance sorted as soon as you move in as you never know…
3. Read the tenancy agreement
So many renters just skim over their tenancy agreement before signing it.
This is a mistake.
Read through your agreement properly and raise anything you’re not sure of with your landlord or letting agent.
While many tenancy agreements are similar, there are almost always variations that relate specifically to the property you’re renting.
Terms could include tenant responsibility for garden upkeep, or a clause that states all carpets must be deep cleaned before the end of the agreement.
If you fail to read the agreement and fail to stick to your responsibilities, it could cost you all or some of your deposit.
4. Switch energy providers
You could be forgiven, as a new renter, for thinking you have to remain with your landlord’s, or the previous tenant’s, energy suppliers when you move in.
Your tenancy agreement might say you can’t switch, although this is rare, but energy watchdog Ofgem says no tenant should be ‘unreasonably prevented’ from doing so.
So, explore your options when it comes to gas and electric providers as soon as you move in as switching could save you hundreds of pounds over your tenancy term.
5. Ask if you want to redecorate
This can often be an issue for renters who have previously owned their own home.
Most rental properties are fairly neutral in décor, so they appeal to the majority rather than the minority.
But this can sometimes mean they lack personality or character.
Many landlords will be open to a tenant redecorating, but always ask first.
Also remember that there may be conditions attached even if they do agree – like having a say on colour schemes you propose or insisting you return the property to its original décor before moving out.
1. Allow your landlord in…
…unless they have given you at least 24 hours’ notice.
As a tenant, you have the right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of a rental property as if it were your own.
So, that means your landlord can’t just show up out of the blue and expect access to the property – unless there’s an emergency.
2. Sign the inventory if you’re not happy
When you move into your rental property, your landlord will have a check-in inventory done to detail the property’s condition.
This will then be compared to another inventory when you move out and potential deductions made for damage or anything above fair wear and tear.
It’s hugely important that you check the inventory and only sign it if it’s accurate.
For example, if there is damage to the property’s interior or a piece of the landlord’s furniture and this isn’t outlined on the check-in inventory, you could be held responsible when you move out.
Don’t sign the inventory unless you’re 100% happy with it.
3. Forget to ask these massively important questions
Even though you won’t own your rental property, you’re responsible for it as the tenant.
So, don’t forget to ask your landlord or letting agent the following:
- Where is the stopcock to shut off the water supply?
- Where is the fuse box?
- Where are the gas and electric meters?
- Are there instructions for electrical devices?
- Who do I contact in an emergency and how?
4. Move out without informing your landlord
The reason you sign a tenancy agreement is to protect both yours and your landlord’s interests.
Your tenancy agreement will state how long you’re expected to rent the property, so moving out before the end of the fixed term should not be done without discussions with your landlord.
Communication is key – if you’re struggling to pay your rent or your circumstances have changed and you need to move to another part of the country before the end of your fixed term, speak to your landlord.
Most landlords will want to try to help, but simply moving out and abandoning your tenancy will only cause more problems and cost you more money in the long run.
5. Disturb your neighbours
Even if your tenancy agreement is a short-term one, you still have a responsibility to behave appropriately while you rent your landlord’s property.
And that includes not disturbing or causing problems for your neighbours.
Having loud music playing late at night or parties that go on until the early hours will almost certainly be a breach of your tenancy agreement, too, and this could give your landlord grounds to evict you.
If you are renting through Martin & Co and have any questions about your tenancy, please get in touch with your local office.