Renting a property
You have decided where you want to live and now you need to view suitable properties. So where do you start? Contact local estate agents (this can be done via our website) because they are highly likely to have properties available in and around your desired area.
Before you do so, set yourself a budget of what you can afford per week or per calendar month (PCM). Be aware of the difference between the overall cost of a weekly rent and a monthly rent. Many people make the mistake of multiplying the weekly rent by four to give them the monthly rent figure. For example, if the weekly rent is £150 and that is multiplied by four it would give you a figure of £600. This is an incorrect calculation as there are 52 weeks in a year and 12 months in a year. The correct way to calculate the monthly rent is to multiply the weekly rent by 52 and then divide it by 12 which gives you the correct monthly rent amount.
Calculating monthly rent - PCM
If we use the previous example of a flat costing £150 per week in rent:
£150 x 52 = £7800
£7800 ÷ 12 = £650
The correct monthly rent for a flat costing £150 per week is £650 per calendar month. It is good to know this as many estate agents/landlords ask to be paid monthly.
Once you are clear on the rent you can afford you should take into account any bills you may have to pay on top of that. Make sure that you have enough in your budget to pay for council tax, gas, electric, water, insurance as well as your telephone, TV licence, internet and so on.
In some cases the rent may include some or even all bills. This should be clarified before signing a tenancy agreement so you know what else you will have to pay for. Some examples of where rent may cover some or all bills are if you rent a room in a house or a studio flat.
If the rent does include any bills then you must ensure this is clearly stated in the tenancy agreement before signing so that there is no confusion at a later date.
The deposit for the property should now be given to the solicitor who will hold it for you.
Contracts are exchanged between the solicitors of both parties concerned (the seller/vendor and you the buyer), deposit is given over to the seller and a date for completion is agreed.
Contacting Estate Agents / Letting agents
You should inform letting agents of the type of property you are looking for, the number of people it is for, your budget (this should take into account what you can afford on top of the rent such as utility bills), the desired location, if you want a separate lounge, furnished or unfurnished, ground floor, first floor, with garden, when you wish to move and so on. This information will help them decide on the most suitable or closely matched property or properties they have to offer you and, hopefully, avoid any time wasting on both sides.
Once they are in possession of your wish list, agents will be able to match your requirements to the properties on their books.
On completion you can now move in to your new home which you now legally own.
Deciding on a property
When you have found a suitable property, don't be dazzled by furnishings and decor - they may not be staying in your new residence. Keep your feet on the ground and double check what is included in the terms of your rental agreement, especially with regard to furnishings, fixtures and fittings. If, for example, you are renting a furnished property check to see what is going to be there when you move in and what may be removed or replaced. If you require a double bed instead of a single bed then you should discuss and agree with the agent/landlord if they will provide it for you in time for when you move in otherwise you may spend a few nights sleeping on the floor!
The same applies to an unfurnished property - confirm what will be left and what will not so you know what you need to provide yourself. The landlord may not mind supplying a few items if he is told in advance, so it's best to check these things out.
Make sure you complete a household inventory which notes down items in the various rooms of the property and the condition they are all in. This is very useful when your tenancy ends and you wish to move out and claim back your deposit. This enables both parties to check the condition of the items and rooms before and after you have moved in. From there an accurate record is made which both sides can agree on and sign. You can download a free household inventory from our site.
This is a list of all the items in the property and provides a record of their condition before you move in. this can be checked again on the day you move out. If, for example, the carpets were new when you moved in and stained when you moved out, you will probably have to pay for that damage out of your deposit. But if the carpets were stained when you moved in, you have a record of this and cannot be held responsible for the damage.
If you will be paying bills like gas and electric then make sure that you take a reading before you move in, as well as the meter numbers, and when you move out.
Before you can move into your chosen property you will be asked by the estate agent/landlord to provide satisfactory references before he or she will let you sign a tenancy agreement and hand over the keys. They need these things as confirmation on your ability to pay the rent.
They are likely to ask to see some or all of these references to decide on your suitability for renting a property from them:
- Identification such as passport or driving licence
- Employers reference
- Accountant reference
- Most recent payslips
- Most recent bank statements
- Most recent bill or bills in your name and address
- Previous landlords reference
If you are a student you may be asked for proof and will often need a guarantor who will pay the rent - most likely to be your parents. Landlords need to be assured that they will receive their rent and if there are any difficulties a guarantor will 'guarantee' that payment will be made.
If everything is okay and you have good references you will usually then need to pay rent in advance and a deposit. In most cases this is usually one month's rent in advance and one month's rent as deposit.
You are likely to need to pay the equivalent of two months rent in advance , one month's rent being held as deposit. This is returnable at the end of the tenancy minus any costs if they occur or in lieu of unpaid rent.
Signing a tenancy agreement
Once you are both happy to go ahead with renting the property you will need to sign the tenancy agreement.
- Read through the agreement and if anything is unclear ask for an to explanation and clarify any details until you understand what is meant or seek some legal advice
- If anything is missing or there are any incorrect details get them corrected before you sign e.g. rent, what bills if any are included in the rent, landlord name and contact details
- Make sure the tenancy agreement states clearly what is included in the rent and what is not
- Ensure that it is clear what the rent amount is and when it is due
- If a deposit is paid it should state this and the amount
- Ensure that you know when you are moving in / the start date of the tenancy is clearly shown
- It should state how long the tenancy is for eg. six months or more
- Once you are happy you can sign and should receive keys to move in
- Make sure you have contact details for the landlord and the agency, if the agency is managing the property or if you will be dealing with the landlord after you have signed the tenancy. You will need his name, address and contact details
- Take gas and electric meter readings and contact the suppliers giving them the readings on the day you move in
Landlord and tenant responsibilities
Your landlord is responsible for keeping the property in a good state which means it should be well maintained inside and out. Landlords are required by law to look after the structure of the building along with external fittings and internal appliances supplied. These will include things such as guttering, roof, drains, outside walls, inside ceilings and walls, floors, washing machine, water supply, heating, baths, sinks, toilets, electrical sockets switches and wiring. The tenancy agreement should state the landlords and tenants responsibilities.
As a tenant you are responsible for any damage you may cause but not for any reasonable wear and tear. If there are any repairs needed they should be reported promptly to the landlord and allow access for them to be dealt with. The tenancy agreement will outline your responsibilities further.
Any soft furnishings supplied ( upholstery ) should comply with fire safety regulations. This would include items such as sofas, mattresses, beds, headboards, cushions - you can check that they have fire safety labels or ask your landlord for proof that items comply with the fire regulations.
The landlord is also required by law to ensure that all gas installations are safe and well maintained and should be checked annually by a Corgi registered engineer. They will receive a gas safety certificate once all gas installations have been tested and passed all safety checks.
This is meant as a general guide and should not be seen as legal advice.