Five things every tenant should know about renting

From making sure you choose the right home to understanding the legal process and your rights as a tenant, renting a home can be a challenging experience.

Because of this, it’s important to have a reputable letting agent or landlord by your side. It will guide you through the process.

To help keep you on the straight and narrow, here at Atkinson McLeod we present five things that tenants should know about renting.

1/ The property must be safe

All rental properties in England are legally required to have smoke alarms fitted on all floors. They are also required to have carbon monoxide detectors in any room where solid fuels are burnt. All alarms and detectors must also be tested and working on the first day of the tenancy.

Along with this, there are various documents that must be provided to you by your landlord. For instance, all landlords are legally required to present you with a copy of the Gas Safety certificate, the energy performance certificate and a record of any electrical inspections.

Your landlord must also ensure that electrical systems and appliances are safe. So check to see whether appliances have a portable appliance test (PAT) sticker on plugs.

2/ You must read the contract thoroughly

It’s crucial that you read your written tenancy agreement carefully to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. There are three different types of tenancy agreements: Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), Assured Tenancy and Joint Tenancy, with the most commonly used being an AST.

You and your landlord will also need to agree on the inventory (or check-in report) before the tenancy starts. Try to take photos of the property before you move in as an extra safeguard. This will make things easier if a dispute crops up at the end of the tenancy.

Lastly, ensure that you have the correct details for the landlord or agent for safekeeping. Although, it’s your landlord’s obligation to give these to you.

3/ Deposits must be protected

The deposit is one of the most important aspects of a tenancy agreement. It should set out the required deposit amount and how it will be protected.

The three government-approved schemes are the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), My Deposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

As of June 2019, security deposits have been capped at five weeks’ rent for homes with an annual rental below £50,000, while a deposit of six weeks’ rent will apply for £50,000-plus properties.

4/ You are responsible for the property’s upkeep

As a tenant, your top responsibility is paying rent in full and on time. You should also ensure that your property is well-maintained.

However, avoid attempting any repairs or decorating without notifying your landlord or agent first. If you notice any issues, contact your landlord to arrange a repair. It’s also a good idea to get familiar with how the boiler and major appliances work. You need to locate the stop cock, fuse box and meters in case of any emergencies.

Of course, your landlord has responsibilities too. Like maintaining appliances and furniture they have provided, carrying out repairs, arranging annual gas safety checks, and more.

5/ Give adequate notice

If you wish to terminate your tenancy, you will need to give the notice that is stated in your tenancy agreement. Keep in mind that you will still be liable to pay rent for the entirety of your tenancy unless there is a break clause in your tenancy agreement.

Failure to give notice in the correct way can lead to you paying rent even after you’ve moved out, as well as other bills. If you can’t give the right amount of notice, you might be able to agree with your landlord to end your tenancy early. This is called ‘surrendering your tenancy’.

Of course, there are many more things to bear in mind when renting a home. Hopefully these five pointers can help you to enjoy a smooth tenancy.

About us

Here at Atkinson McLeod, we offer guidance on renting a property in the capital. For more information on our services, please get in touch with us or contact one of our many branches, from Balham to Canary Wharf.

Also, to find out how much your home could be worth in the current market, you can request a free online valuation.

Five things every tenant should know about renting
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Five things every tenant should know about renting
From making sure you choose the right home to knowing and understanding the legal process and your rights as a tenant, renting a home can be a challenging experience.
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Atkinson McLeod
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