Whether it’s your first time signing a rental agreement, or you know your way around the whole process, there are still some things you should always check with the landlord or management agency before signing.
What fees and deposits are required?
Before you sign your tenancy agreement, you should make sure you know exactly how much you will be required to pay and when. Your tenancy deposit will usually be the same amount as 4 or 5 weeks’ rent. But remember, it is illegal for them to force you to pay a deposit of more than 5 weeks’ rent.
You should protect your deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP) until you move out, as this will ensure your money is kept safe.
At the end of your tenancy your landlord or management company will sign off on the property, and they may use some or all of your deposit to rectify things within the property that you have damaged. This could be marked on the walls or stains on the carpet, but they cannot use your deposit to replace things that are looking worn as a result of age or use, such as old carpet or paintwork.
Are there any non-refundable fees?
In a bid to make the UK rental market more regulated, there has been a drive to remove deposits. However, this has led to many landlords requesting a non-refundable fee. Usually, this fee is the equivalent of one week’s rent.
Following the Tenant Fees Act, landlords have been banned from charging for such things as reference and credit checks, guarantor requests, “admin” costs, as well as renewal fees. But if you leave your tenancy early, you will still be required to pay.
What’s included with the agreement?
There’s no fixed rule when it comes to what’s included in a rental agreement, so knowing what is and what isn’t included will help with budgeting. Some leases include utility bills (water, electricity, and gas) as part of the total rental, however, some may not.
Similarly, you may find that your agreement includes a ground rent that covers general maintenance of the property including the exterior grounds and even window cleaning, whereas others don’t, and you’ll be expected to take care of such things.
Who should I contact when there’s a maintenance issue?
Whether you deal directly with your landlord or they use a management company, they will tend to have their own contacts for maintenance problems, so it’s important you know who to contact and don’t just fix things yourself, as you may not be reimbursed.
So you should always make sure you know the procedure for reporting maintenance issues, as well as knowing your rights should issue go unresolved.
Do I need tenant insurance?
You shouldn’t assume that your landlord’s property insurance will cover any damage caused to your valuable belongings. To ensure your belongings are fully covered, investing in tenant insurance is a must. It’s more than likely that your landlord’s home insurance will only cover the property itself.
While having insurance for your personal belongings isn’t a legal requirement, it’s always worth having, even if your landlord has a comprehensive cover.