January 28, 2020
Steps to renting a property – what do tenants need to know?
If you’re renting for the first time, or haven’t done it for a while, there are a number of things you need to know to ensure it’s not an overwhelming experience.
From deposit protection to tenancy fees, and lets with pets to tenancy agreements, there is a lot to get your head around.
Here, we take a closer look at the things you need to do and know before renting a property.
Check the tenancy agreement
This will tell you all the important things about your tenancy. From how much rent you owe and when it should be paid, to whether you can sublet, smoke indoors or keep pets.
The tenancy agreement, which should be put down in writing, sets out the legal terms and conditions of your property. A tenancy agreement in writing is better as it’s clearer and lessens the chance of disputes.
Your tenancy agreement will outline whether your contract is fixed-term (running for a set period of time) or periodic (running week-by-week or month-by-month.
You should check your tenancy agreement thoroughly before you sign it. And get an independent set of eyes to pick up on anything you don’t.
Know which costs you must pay
The rules surrounding tenancy fees were changed forever by the Tenant Fees Act 2019. The Act, which came into force on June 1 2019, banned landlords and agents from charging any fees to tenants, other than those permitted by the new legislation.
Any tenancy that was signed on or after June must adhere to the new regulations. The Act applies to England only. From June 1 2020, the Act will be extended to cover all existing tenancies.
Landlords and agents are now prohibited from charging a range of fees, including for admin, referencing, Right to Rent checks and pet fees/deposits. Additionally, there can be no charges for the check-in and check-out process, renewal/exit fees, gardening services and third-party fees.
Tenants can still be charged for changes to the tenancy, default fees and lost keys/locks/security fobs.
Refundable holding deposits and tenancy deposits can be charged, but must now be capped. The holding deposit must be capped at one week’s rent.
For tenancy deposits, it’s capped depending on the total annual rental. If the total annual rent is less than £50,000, landlords and agents are only permitted to ask tenants to pay up to five weeks’ rent.
Meanwhile, if the total annual rent is more than £50,000 and below £100,000, landlords and agents can request up to six weeks’ rent from tenants as a tenancy deposit.
There is a lot to the Act, but this page includes everything you need to know.
Be clear on deposit protection
Your landlord must put your tenancy deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it. The three approved schemes are the Deposit Protection Service, mydeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This applies to all tenancies in England and Wales.
You should get your deposit back at the end of a tenancy if you meet the terms of your agreement, cause no damage to the property, and pay your rent and bills.
Once a tenancy has ended, your landlord or agent must return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back.
There are two types of tenancy protection – custodial or insured – and all schemes offer deposit resolution services if required.
Know your rights…
As a renter, you have a right to know who your landlord is, have a written tenancy agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years, and live in a property that’s safe, habitable and in good condition.
You should also be protected from unfair rents, charges and eviction. Equally, you have the right to see an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your rental property. This allows you to know how energy efficient it is and whether it complies with the current law.
When you start a new tenancy, you should also be provided with a copy of the How to rent guide.
When it comes to access and inspections, your landlord must give you 24 hours’ notice. He must also visit at a reasonable time of day. For instance, not first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
…And your responsibilities
You must report repairs and maintenance issues as soon as possible, to make sure the problem is solved promptly.
You also have a responsibility to keep the home in good condition and take care of it properly.
What’s more, you must pay the agreed rent, even at times when repairs are needed or you’re having a dispute with your landlord.
If your tenancy has been arranged so you pay council tax and utility bills separately, you must pay these charges per your agreement with the landlord.
You must only ever sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it. The same with keeping pets and smoking. If it’s strictly forbidden, you must not flout this.
Lastly, you have an obligation to either repair or cover the costs of any damage caused by you, your family or friends.
If you do not meet your responsibilities, or deliberately break the rules set out in your tenancy agreement, your landlord can start legal action to evict you. However, that there could be changes to the evictions process at some point this year if Section 21 is scrapped.
Get permission from your landlord for changes
If you are looking to improve or redecorate your rental home, you must seek permission first. In many cases, it will be allowed if you ask, but in some cases it might not. You should never just assume.
Your tenancy agreement should outline what is and what is not allowed. If you’re not sure, check with your landlord or letting agent. Before starting work get written permission.
The above is only a snapshot of what is involved in the rental process. For more info get in touch with an experienced, reliable local letting agent.
Here at Atkinson McLeod, we offer guidance on renting and letting a property in the capital. To find out more about our services, please get in touch with our expert team today.
You can find out how much your rental home could be worth on the current market by requesting a free and instant online valuation here.