‘Entering the lettings market can be daunting, particularly for those renting for the first time. As a student landlord myself, I am aware of the common problems and pitfalls experienced by first time tenants,’ said Carolyn Uphill, chairman of the National Landlords Association.
‘To ensure things go smoothly, it is essential that tenants are up to date with their rights and responsibilities,’ she added.
The first piece of advice when looking for a property, whether directly with a landlord, through a letting agent, or via the university accommodation office, is to ask if they are members of a professional organisation such as the National Landlords Association and check their membership status via the online register of members.
If you’re using a letting agent then check to see if they are a member of the UK Association of Letting Agents or the Association of Residential Letting Agencies.
Once you’ve found a property that you like the look of, ask about any additional fees such as reference fees and check in fees. This is particularly relevant if you are using a letting agent as you should be aware of the scale of the financial commitment before you sign a contract.
Before signing a contract, new tenants are advised to study the Gas Safety certificate to check it has been updated in the last year. A Gas Safe registered engineer must check all gas appliances every year, by law.
They are also advised to read the property’s Energy Performance Certificate to get an idea of how much it is likely to cost to heat the property. The landlord or letting agent must provide this when they advertise the property.
It is also important to consider the whole cost of renting the property, not just the rent. If the property is energy efficient then the gas and electricity bills should be low. If the energy bills are high, ask the landlord about low cost improvements which could save you money and improve the property in the long run.
The NLA also advised reading the contract carefully before you sign and ensure you understand the obligations you are signing up to.
Also, before you hand over your deposit, check the inventory provided by your landlord, letting agent or third party. Be sure that the inventory is accurate and includes a fair description of the condition of the furniture before signing and dating it. If not included in the inventory ask the landlord to take photos to document any damage which pre-dates your tenancy.
When you hand over your deposit, ask which tenancy deposit protection provider the landlord will be using. Landlords must, by law, protect all deposits within a government licensed tenancy deposit protection scheme, such as my/deposits, and send you the prescribed information shortly after your tenancy begins.
Once you’ve settled into the property,...