Top tips for first-time renters

Moving to your own place? If you’re renting for the first time follow our top tips to avoid the common pitfalls.

    1Don’t pay letting agents to register

    Letting agents shouldn’t charge any fees just for you to register with them. Fees can only be charged for services such as credit reference checks when they’ve found you a place.

    2Be sure it's safe

    Check the gas safety certificate before you move in. You should also make sure you’re happy with the general condition of the property before you sign an agreement.

    3Check that your deposit will be protected

    Landlords must protect your deposit within 30 days after they’ve received it and must give you full details of which scheme is protecting it and how you can get it back.

    4Make sure the inventory is accurate

    When you move in check and agree with the landlord or agent the list of contents in the property and any existing damage. You could also take your own photos when moving in and moving out. This is the best way to avoid disputes later on. Finally, make sure you have the right contact details for your landlord.

    5Know your own responsibilities

    Renters have obligations too. Your duties as a renter include paying rent and bills on time and not disturbing your neighbours.

    6Moving in with a mate?

    Signing a joint tenancy with your housemates or having individual tenancy agreements with the landlord can have a big impact on your rights. Check that you understand the agreement you have.

    7Landlord wants to increase the rent

    Your landlord can increase the rent but only at certain times or if they're offering you a new agreement, depending on what type of tenancy you have.

    8When the boiler breaks, who should fix it?

    Landlords are responsible for most repairs. Find out what to do if your landlord refuses to fix something. Never withhold your rent as a bargaining tool - that would give your landlord grounds to evict you.

    9Ready to leave?

    Unless you are leaving at the end of a fixed-term agreement, you need to give the correct notice period to end your tenancy agreement when you decide to move out. Not ending the tenancy properly could mean you have to carry on paying the rent, even after you’ve moved out. Equally, if your landlord asks you to move out, they need to follow the correct eviction procedure unless you agree to move out on a certain day.

    10Can’t get your deposit back?

    Check first if your deposit was protected. If yes then use the mediation service available. If it wasn’t protected, once your tenancy ends you could take the landlord to court and ask the court to order the landlord to return your deposit and pay a penalty for not protecting it of one to three times the amount of the deposit.

Last updated 21 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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