Make sure you ask the right questions before you sign up for a property to rent.
Inspect the condition of the property
If you see any problems, check that they will be repaired before you move in. Ask who you should contact if you need to report repairs.
You can complain about an unsafe home, but it's a problem best avoided from the start.
Check for signs of:
- damp or condensation - such as mould on the walls or carpets.
- signs of pests and vermin - such as mice, rats and cockroaches
- leaks from baths, showers, radiators or pipes
Make sure the outside of the property is in good condition. Look for loose roof tiles, leaking pipes and gutters and crumbling brickwork.
Ask who is responsible for the upkeep of any communal areas such as a garden, entrance hall or stairwell.
Ask about gas, electrical and fire safety
All gas appliances such as boilers, cookers and heaters must be checked every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Ask to see record of the latest safety check. Your landlord must give you a certificate of gas safety before you move in.
Your landlord has electrical safety responsibilities.
Your landlord should have electrical appliances checked every 12 months. Usually the electrician puts a sticker on the plug of each appliance saying when they were last checked. Keep your eye out for any fittings that are loose from the wall.
Check that there is a working smoke alarm on each floor.
Check the heating
Check what sort of heating the property uses and ask the landlord how much the bills are.
Check furniture and appliances
Ask if any furniture and appliances are provided (such as cooker, fridge, freezer and washing machine). Check if your landlord will repair or replace them if they go wrong.
To avoid disputes, make sure you and your landlord agree an inventory to record the condition of everything that comes with the property.
If you have furniture that you need to bring in, check it will fit.
Find out about the landlord
Find out how to contact your landlord including in case of emergencies.
If a letting agent will be managing the property, check they are registered with an professional body and letting agent redress scheme.
Check the costs of renting
Rent will be your biggest monthly outgoing, so check you can afford it.
If you need to claim housing benefit to help pay the rent, check the landlord is willing to rent to you.
Check if you have to pay a deposit and rent in advance.
Ask about other bills such as gas, electricity, water and council tax:
- how much they're likely to be
- what is and isn't included in the rent
Check if extra charges apply - some properties have a service charge for the upkeep of communal areas.
Check how long the contract is for
Many tenancies start off as fixed-term contracts, often for six or 12 months.
You can't usually end a fixed-term tenancy during the fixed term unless there's a break clause that allows you or the landlord to end the tenancy early.
You could stay on a periodic or rolling contract if you don't renew with another fixed term. These typically roll from month to month.
You can end a periodic or rolling tenancy by giving correct notice.
Brenda's Story: 'When looking round a property, use your nose'
Brenda, a lawyer and lecturer, lives with her two daughters and granddaughter in Manchester. The cottage she rented had severe damp and mould problems. The smell was the first indication that the property needed repairs. Read Brenda's full story
Last updated 09 May 2017 | © Shelter
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