By Bea Patel, Director of Shop for an Agent
In the first of this four part series, I’ll be sharing some key points for moving into a privately rented property. Before looking, set a realistic budget and factor in extra costs such as Council Tax, electric and/or gas bills, water bills, TV licence, digital TV and broadband. If your house sharing, discuss how you’ll be splitting the bills and how to pay them. When ready, consider these five tips:
- Don’t pay estate or letting agents to register with them
If you’re using an estate or letting agent to find a property, they’ll charge you a fee for services such as creating a tenancy agreement and conducting credit checks. Make sure you’re happy with their fees before you sign any agreements.
Some landlords pay agents to fully manage their property. Check this so you understand who to contact for repairs or maintenance.
- Raise a deposit
If you cannot afford the deposit to move in to a property, you can ask family or friends, or contact your local council, a charity, or housing association about:
- Rent Deposit Scheme: a loan that you’ll pay back from your salary or benefits over a period.
- Bond or Guarantee Scheme: a written guarantee to landlords to cover any loses they may incur from your tenancy.
When you move out, if there’s damage to the property or rent arrears, you may have to repay any money given to a landlord, so check you understand the terms.
- Check how your deposit will be protected
Your deposit is your money, so ask your estate or letting agent how it will be protected. There is a government-backed Deposit Protection Scheme that protects landlords against rent arrears or damage to their property. Understand the scheme your money will be protected under and get a copy of the certificate for your records.
- Check the property is safe
If the property has gas appliances, you must ask for a copy of the gas safety record. An engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register is qualified to conduct these tests. Your landlord is responsible for ensuring this check is carried out every 12 months.
- Take the inventory seriously
An inventory should be completed before you move in to a property, and if your landlord doesn’t give you one, you should produce one yourself.
The inventory lists everything the landlord provides in the property, such as kitchen appliances, furniture or carpets. It records the condition of each, so check the property carefully and record anything damaged, worn out or missing – and take photographs of anything relevant. This protects you so you cannot be blamed for damage that existed before you moved in, which can be taken from your deposit money.
In the second part of this four part series, I’ll cover key points to know when living in a privately rented property.
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