Renting a property can be just as stressful as buying a home; the purpose to this guide is to offer some helpful advice and tips to ensure that your experience is a smooth and hassle free as possible.
Before you start
Before you start looking for a property to rent, it is important that you think about certain things first. You need to work out how much you can afford, the locations you would like to move to, the date you want to move into your new property, do you need furniture or have your own? This will all help you narrow down the properties that are worth viewing. Due to certain legislative changes, you will also need to find out if you have the right to rent a property in the United Kingdom.
Much like buying a property, it is a good idea to break down what you want from a property into two lists - 'Essentials' and 'Would Likes'. You may find that you can compromise on certain aspects, such as paying a little more if it has everything you really want. In such a competitive market, it is also important that you act quickly if you find somewhere. Lettings is quite fast paced and as essentially a first come, first served basis. This means the first person to pay their holding fee, fill out the necessary paperwork and have their offer accepted by the landlords will be successful (subject to references).
Once you have viewed a property that you would like to proceed with you will fill out certain paperwork and pay a holding fee. The lettings negotiator will then put your offer forward to the landlord. You need to keep in mind that the answer may not be immediate, the landlord may need to speak to a business partner, husband/wife or another individual but we aim to get your offer agreed in the speediest yet secure way possible.
Before paying any holding fee to the estate agent it is wise to ask several questions; Is it refundable? What is the referencing criteria? How will the deposit be protected? Are they a member of any redress scheme? How long will the tenancy be for? Who will be responsible for the council tax and utility bills? Who will be managing the property? What fixtures and fittings will remain in the property/be provided? Are there any rules or covenants you need to be made aware of? (Please note this list is not restrictive and there may be further questions to ask). If there are any requirements or things you would like done before you move into the property, you must ensure they are all expressed as part of your offer.
Congratulations! Your offer has been accepted subject to passing the references. You should have asked your letting agent what the criteria for referencing is as different companies may have different policies. The most common is the have a good credit history, no CCJ's or bankruptcies, have a joint income equal or more than 2.5 times the annual rent of the property, and good landlord history. We go a little further and check your landlord history for the previous 3 years, employment history and will also perform 'Right to Rent' checks in accordance with current government legislation.
If you are not quite earning enough there may be an opportunity for you to pay a larger amount of rent in advance or provide a guarantor. Please speak to your negotiator for further details.
Contracts & Deposits
Once the references have all passed you will then receive the fully composed contracts. You may be required to pop into the office and sign in person or you may be able to sign and scan/post the document back. At Kings, we do things slightly differently as we will use an online signing software to save you time and cut down on any inconvenience. The document is time and date stamped and legally binding.
You will also be required to pay the agreed amount of rent and the deposit before you move into the property. Check, if not already done so, which government backed scheme the deposit will be held with and you should be issued with a certificate of registration after move in.
When moving in, you will be issued with an inventory and schedule of condition. This is a thorough check on the property noting down in clear detail the condition of every aspect of the property including fixtures, fittings and furniture. You will need to look through this document, note down your comments and return it to us within 7 days. This is very important as we will use this inventory to compare the condition of the property for when you leave. You will also be issued with keys, a copy of your fully signed tenancy agreement, emergency contact number (if we manage the property) and other helpful information. You will also need to be provided with an energy performance certificate and a copy of the gas safety certificate.
We will take meter readings before you move in but we always recommend that you take your own. You may also be able to change utility providers subject to approval by the landlord.
It is very important that you always pay your rent on time, if you don't you could lose your home as you have broken your tenancy agreement. If you are having problems, please do speak to your estate agent/landlord. You must look after the property and notify the property manager as soon as any issues arise, it is also worth getting your own contents insurance as the landlord's insurance will not cover your possessions. It is also important that you understand how to use the boiler and other appliances and know where the fuse box, stop cock and any meters are located.
You need to be considerate to your neighbours or you could be evicted for anti-social behaviour; you are also unable to take in a lodger or sub-let without explicit permission from your landlord. You will also have regular inspections and the timings may vary depending on whether you are renting a HMO property or not.
End of Tenancy
At the end of your tenancy you may be offered to renew the tenancy for another fixed term, if your circumstances have changed you may need to be re-referenced. If you decide to vacate a check-out inventory will be performed with the purpose to see if any of the tenancy deposit needs to be deducted to cover any damages or cleaning costs. If you do not agree with any proposed deductions, please contact your letting agent to see if this can be resolved. If not, you will need to accept the charges or speak to the relevant deposit protection scheme. It is important that you ensure your rental payments are up to date as you are unable to hold back rent thinking it can be taken out of the deposit.
Do not leave bills unpaid as this may have an impact on your credit rating and future references. Remove all your possessions and personal effects and if there was any furniture provided for you, you need to leave them in the positions and rooms they were initially in. You also need to leave the property in a clean state and it is advised you take metre readings before you return all the keys to your estate agent.