It's easy to get trapped in renting when it's your first time renting and you don't know the right questions to ask. Renting should be an opportunity to learn about the actual property rather than just a bill to pay. Here are some key questions to help you find out how much your new home will cost and whether the rental property is right for you.
How much will it cost you?
The first thing to consider when renting a property is whether or not you can afford the rent. Before accepting a tenant, a landlord or letting agent will often conduct some form of referencing which might involve checking the tenant’s credit score and income. Even if renters pass these checks, it is important to understand the total costs of renting your property. It is worth asking if the bills (utility bills and wifi) are included? Do they average a large amount or are they small amounts that add up over time? Are white goods such as a washing machine included? Is council tax included or are there extra charges that will affect you eventually? You can apply for a council tax discount and there are techniques to reduce your bills but ultimately you should know from the start what your total outgoings could potentially be.
What is the energy performance of the property?
When renting a property it is important to understand what type of energy performance certificate (EPC) it has to determine if your bills will be higher in winter or not or if there is potential to reduce your monthly outgoings. It is a legal requirement for a landlord to give tenants an EPC certificate and they are not allowed to let out a property if it has a rating less than E. EPC certificates are valid for 10 years so check the date to contextualise the rating.
Location, location, location.
Location is key when buying or renting a property. Is the property close to public transport? Is the property close to work? Is the broadband in your area good? Whilst you can’t control who your neighbours are it’s helpful to obtain some information beforehand to assess the compatibility of potential routines. The property looks nice from the outside, but is it well maintained from the inside? Is the lighting good? If repairs are planned by the landlord, when will they be completed? If it’s a shared house, how many people are living there? Do they have any pets?
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Are there shared facilities or special terms?
When renting a property you might have access to shared facilities and these will be defined in your tenancy agreement. Do you have access to a garden or shared parking space? If this is the case, who is responsible for looking after the shared facilities? Are pets permitted and if so, are there house rules or a pet policy?
Can you see a copy of the tenancy agreement?
Once you’ve asked these questions and are satisfied with the answers and condition of the property, you should ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement as soon as possible in the process. This is important to flag potential clauses in the agreement which are not up to date with the latest legislation, early in the process. Reading your tenancy agreement beforehand will help you understand your rights and obligations as a tenant which will ensure a smooth tenancy. You should also double check with the landlord the weekly or monthly rent amount as well as rent payment dates so that they coincide with your pay day. Verify the security deposit amount with the landlord and ask if they will take a holding deposit to reserve the property for you. If there is a current tenant living in the property, ask if the landlord or letting agent is doing property viewings and when you might be able to visit. Another top tip is to ask the landlord if they have taken contents insurance or if it is your responsibility. The last thing you need to do to have peace of mind is to check with the landlord if they will be the point of contact during the tenancy or if someone else should be contacted for maintenance issues. This will ensure that you know the process for resolving issues if ever something goes wrong.
If you are not sure what an up-to-date and fair tenancy agreement looks like, read our tenancy agreement guide and create an account today.
Legislate is a legal technology startup which allows landlords, letting agents and small businesses to easily create, sign and manage contracts that are prudent and fair. Legislate’s platform is built on its patented knowledge graph which streamlines the contracting process and aggregates contract statistics to quickly unlock valuable insights. Legislate’s team marries technical and legal expertise to create a painless, smart contracting experience for its users. Legislate is backed by Parkwalk Advisors, Perivoli Innovations and angel investors.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.