With ever-soaring house prices, renting has become a viable, and common, option for many people across the UK. The Telegraph website states that 3.9 million people in the UK rent their property. Since the process of renting is becoming more mainstream, many tenants fail to properly read their tenancy agreements and can find themselves caught short if they aren't fully informed. We've pulled together some top tips for tenants, so that you can get the most from your tenancy.
Know your Tenancy AgreementWhen signing a tenancy agreement, as a tenant you have legal safeguards to protect you, including your right to:
- Live in a well-maintained property; safe and in a good state of repair.
- Have "quiet enjoyment" of the property.
- Have your deposit registered in a Government approved scheme, which assures you that your money is held safely during the tenancy and gives you of the right to agree to any deductions requested at the end.
- Be protected from unfair eviction.
Your ResponsibilitiesYou also have responsibilities as a tenant, to protect yourself, the landlord and the property. Some of your responsibilities include:
- Access - You must allow your landlord access to carry out repairs, they must give you 24hours notice and the time must be reasonable unless in a state of emergency.
- Pay the agreed rent - even if you are in a dispute with your landlord over repairs etc.
- Damages - Cover the cost of any damages incurred by yourself, family, friends or visitors to the property.
- Safety - You must replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke alarms and report to the landlord/managing agent if they become faulty.
- General repairs - You must also report any other repairs which fall under your Landlord's obligations and become apparent during the Tenancy. All repairs necessary should be reported in writing.
- Lodgers - You must not sublet, assign or permit anyone to live in your property without express permission from your Landlord.
- Right to rent checks - in addition to the usual reference checks, under new Immigration legislation you will need to provide original copies of documentation which proves your nationality and your right to remain in the UK. If you have a time limited right to remain then you will need to comply with further follow up checks.
Landlord Maintenance ResponsibilitiesAs part of your Landlord's obligations to you he/she should ensure that your property is well maintained, safe and in a good state of repair. The legislation covering safety in rented accommodation includes the following:
- Gas safety - All gas equipment must be fitted and checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer, including boilers, gas stoves etc. The landlord must provide a gas safety check record before you move in and further annual checks must be carried out.
- Electrical safety - your landlord must ensure that the electrics and all sockets and electrical equipment that comes with the property (i.e. ovens, kettles etc) are safe.
- Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors - Your landlord must provide a smoke alarm on each storey of the property and a carbon monoxide detector in rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a wood burner.
- Furnishings - If furnishings are provided they must be fire safe
- Legionella's Disease - your Landlord must carry out a risk assessment and, if a risk is identified, take appropriate steps to minimise or remove the risk.
DepositsA deposit is usually paid prior to moving into a property. Since April 6th 2007 landlords and letting agents have been required to register tenants deposits in a Government approved scheme, if you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. You should get your deposit back if you:
- Meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
- Don't damage the property
- Pay your rent and bills
Assured Shorthold TenancyThis is the most common type of tenancy agreement used in England and Wales. It is also referred to as an "AST". The agreement sets out tenant and landlord obligations and all terms which have been agreed between them including the rent payable, length of tenancy, any special clauses agreed etc.
How Do You Know if you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement?You will have an AST if:
- You moved into the property on or after 28th February 1997
- You have exclusive possession of the property
- The landlord does not live at the property with you (or within the same building as it was originally built)
- You are paying less than £100,000 a year in rent.
- You are an individual
- You use the property as your only or principal home.