You've found a property to rent. So what happens next?
From references for moving in to final inventory checks when moving out, we've got all the info you need.
From references and deposits to inventories and tenancy agreements, renting a property involves a bit of paperwork at the beginning and end of your rental agreement. And in between all that, there are yours and your landlord's rights and responsibilities to consider.
We've put together a guide on how renting a property works, so that you know everything that's involved.
Securing a property to rent. Begin by putting down a holding deposit in order to state your intention to rent the property and have it taken off the market. This is capped at one week’s rent.
We will then begin the administrative process of requesting references from you.
References: We will be keen to make sure that you are a suitable tenant and that you have the ability to pay your rent. We will also be interested in whether you have rented a property without any major problems in the past.
We will organise the reference checks and will ask for your permission to conduct the relevant searches.
There is no administrative fee to conduct these checks. At this stage we only ask for the holding deposit.
The following documents will be requested:
References from previous landlords - you may be asked to give the details of where you have lived within the last three years
A credit check - this will allow them to see if you have a good history of paying your bills.
Your bank details, including the bank name, account number and sort code
Details of your employment, including your employer, job title, payroll number, salary and previous employer
Proof of your Right to rent in the UK
Under the Data Protection Act, you can only be asked for information that is required for the tenancy, and it is stored securely and checked regularly to make sure it is still needed and is accurate.
In the event that the information highlights any potential of risk to the landlord, you may be asked to provide a guarantor.
A guarantor will be contractually liable, both financially and legally, should you fail to pay the rent during your tenancy or in the event of damage to the property.
The deposit: The final part in securing the property is putting down the deposit, which you will be asked for once you have signed a contract.
This deposit is capped at five weeks’ rent, unless your rent is more than £50,000 a year, in which case you may be asked for six weeks’ rent.
The deposit is a safety net for the landlord to guard against the cost of replacing or repairing property damaged by you.
Tenancy deposit protection in summary
Landlords and letting agents in England are required to join one of the Government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes. We are members of DPS
We must give the new tenant proof that their deposit has been put into one of these schemes within 30 days of it being paid
You will get all or part of your deposit back at the end of the tenancy if you have kept the rental property in good condition
The schemes offer alternative ways of resolving disputes which aim to be faster and cheaper than taking court action
The inventory: This is one of the most important documents in the renting process and can be key in deciding how much of your deposit is returned at the end of your tenancy.
You should be extremely thorough and give it your full attention, while taking the necessary precautions to protect your interests.
How is the inventory prepared? The inventory is a simple list detailing every item contained within the property and the condition each listed item is in, as well as the state of the property itself, on the day you move in.
This may be prepared by either the letting agent or the landlord. Either way, you should go round the property with the landlord or agent and agree the state of each item before signing anything.
If necessary, take photographic or video evidence to give you extra protection and avoid any unnecessary disagreement at a later stage.
You will have 7 days after receipt to comment on it.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies ASTs are the most common form of tenancy agreement and set out the duties of both you and your landlord. The most important aspect of the agreement is that the landlord has the right to repossess the property at the end of the agreed term. Despite its name, the agreement does not have to be short and can continue as long as both parties are happy to do so. There is no minimum term specified either, although you have the right to remain in the property for at least six months. However, if the fixed term is for three or more years, a deed must be drawn up and a solicitor employed to do so.
There are specific requirements linked to an AST that include:
The tenant(s) must be an individual(s)
The property must be the main home of the occupant(s)
The property must be let as separate accommodation
The landlord is obliged to provide the tenant with two months' notice if they want to terminate the agreement
The agreement will most likely contain the following information:
Your name, your landlord's name and the address of the property which is being let
The date the tenancy will commence
The duration of the tenancy from the start to the agreed finish of the occupation
The amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid, when it should be paid and when it can be legally increased
What payments are expected, including Council Tax, utilities and service charges
What services your landlord will provide, such as maintenance of common areas
The notice period which you and your landlord need to give each other if the tenancy is to be terminated
Moving out: When you come to the end of your contract, you have two options to consider: 1. Extend the agreement Remember, you need to provide one months' notice in writing to your landlord, stating either your intention to vacate the property or to ask permission to stay on beyond your initial agreement. Landlords like low maintenance tenants, so providing your landlord is happy with you and the condition of the house or flat, you'll most likely be allowed to continue with your occupancy. 2. Move out If you decide to move out, it's worth putting in a bit of work to get the property up to scratch to maximise the chances of getting your full deposit back. As long as the condition of the property is the same as when you moved in (barring normal wear and tear), you should have no problem. So here's what you should do:
Give the property a thorough clean, including carpets, windows, walls and furniture
Clear away any rubbish
If it's your responsibility, tidy up the garden
Remove all your personal belongings
Be satisfied you're leaving the property as you found it
Return all the keys to the landlord
Final inventory check You'll have the opportunity to run through the inventory checklist on the day of departure. It's important that this job is done as you leave the property, to avoid you being accountable for any damage that occurs after you've left. If there is any damage, you should agree with the landlord the cost of repairing or replacing such items. If an agreement cannot be reached as to the damage of particular items, which items have been damaged, or repair costs, then you should make sure you take photographs. Get your own repair cost estimates and write to the landlord with your findings and work towards a mutually agreeable solution. If you still cannot reach an agreement, you can refer the dispute to the tenancy deposit protection scheme. If both you and the landlord are satisfied the property has been left in an acceptable state and you have made your final rental payment, there should be no problem getting your deposit back.