Top tips for Renters
While we can’t guarantee a totally stress-free experience, these 7 tips should make your life a lot easier:
- Ensure you have contents cover prior to moving in
If you’re a tenant, your landlord should be responsible for buildings insurance, so you’re only required to sort out contents cover (which covers the items in your home).
- Check that your deposit is protected
In England and Wales your landlord is legally obliged to register your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days of starting the tenancy agreement.
However, more than a third of private renters in England and Wales either don’t know about these schemes, or don’t know if their deposit is protected, according to housing charity Shelter.
- Check the inventory & report any defects
As soon as you move in, carefully check for any existing damage in the property or its contents. Note down anything you can see, be it a cracked tile, loose drawer handle or a dented lampshade. Try to take photos as evidence, and ensure you have everything dated and signed.
This way, if the landlord tries to withhold your deposit for ‘damaging’ any of these when you leave, you’ll have hard proof that it was already there where you moved in. Similarly, take photos when you move as proof you have left the place in good order – see above.
- Know your landlord’s responsibilities
If you’re renting your property, it’s important to be aware of both you and your landlord’s responsibilities.
Full details of this will often be set out in your contract, but as standard your landlord’s responsibilities should include: organising and paying for buildings insurance, installing fire alarms, checking plug sockets, making sure electricals and gas appliances are safe by having annual gas safety checks carried out and generally maintaining the property to an acceptable standard.
There is also certain documentation they must provide when you move in:
- A Gas Safety Certificate
- Deposit Protection Scheme paperwork
- A fire safety label on any furniture that’s been provided.
- An Energy Performance Certificate.
- A copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide
If your landlord fails to do any of the above, you can go to your local council’s environmental health department. It must take action if problems can harm you or cause nuisance to others.
If you live in Scotland, we recommend contacting the Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland.
- Use an app to track and split bills
If your flat-sharing with a number of other people, keeping track of who uses what and who isn’t paying their fair share can be a nightmare. Fortunately, there are a number of free apps, such as Acasa which make the job a lot easier.
All those with access can add bills or expenses that they’ve either paid or are coming up, such as utility bills, council tax or just home supplies. Using this information, you’ll be able to see who’s in the red and who’s in the ‘green’, and work out who owes whom how much. You can then request payments within the app, and keep a record of those made.
- Your landlord should ask before entering
When you rent a property, your landlord may well need to come in from time to time for repairs, as well as to inspect the property and make sure you’re abiding by the rules in the contract.
If your landlord wants to come in, they should give you notice and arrange a time with you before hand. According to Shelter, landlords must give advance notice that is reasonable and at suitable times. However, ‘reasonable’ notice is not specified, so check your tenancy agreement as a different advance notice period may be stated there.
If your landlord enters without asking, you have a right to ask them to stop. If they continue to enter even after this, it could be considered as harassment, which is a criminal offence.
- Get free advice if disputes arise
If you’re having problems with your landlord, or you need extra advice with any issues while you’re renting, there are several places that can offer free help.
Housing charity Shelter has specialist housing advisers that can help you negotiate, as well as free advice helplines.
Hopefully you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us here.