Advice for tenants

The number of people renting for the first time continues to rise. Much of this demand for rented property is coming from would-be first-time buyers struggling to meet lenders' deposit and lending requirements. Many young people are also choosing to rent because renting provides other advantages. Lower deposits are required to secure accommodation and the choice of properties is extremely wide. Renting allows complete flexibility to move if your circumstances change or you donít like the area after living there. Moving up or down the rental property ladder is also relatively easy, although getting on to the ladder is becoming increasingly difficult as landlords generally have a wide choice in an increasingly competitive market.

First time renters can improve their chances of getting on to the rental ladder by making sure their credit rating is up to scratch, and having suitable references. There are also a number of points that first time renters should be aware of. Firstly, the majority of landlords and letting agents require a prospective tenant to complete an application form. The application form records the tenant's declaration as to identity, current address, employment details, references, and personal details. It also requests the tenant's consent for the landlord or agent to carry out credit searches. The landlord or agent normally charge an application fee, but the amount of the fee can vary enormously.

The tenancy deposit required to secure a property can vary, but is approximately one monthís rent. A new tenant is required to pay the first months rent and the deposit before moving into a property. In April 2007 it became law that all assured shorthold tenancy deposits received by landlords and letting agents must be protected in a Government authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme. The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) is the only custodial scheme authorised by the Government. They require that the deposit you pay to your landlord or letting agent is physically paid over to the DPS to safeguard for the duration of the tenancy. The deposit will be repaid at the end of the tenancy when both parties have reached agreement on its distribution. The DPS run an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service which aims to resolve any dispute about the deposit quickly and without the need for court action. It is an evidence-based adjudication service, but requires the consent of both parties.

Rented properties come in all shapes and sizes and with corresponding rental value. It is important for prospective tenants to ensure that the property meets their requirements and budget. Never take a property without viewing and always have some idea of the most important factors you are looking for. As with buying property no house or apartment is likely to meet all your criteria. The most important criteria is affordability and it is vital to ensure that your budgeting calculations take all costs into account. The rent does not normally include council tax, water rates, gas, electric or telephone charges.

The landlord or agent will usually carry out an inventory when you check in to the property. This is an agreed record of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. You need to make sure this is accurate, as this will used as evidence in the event of any dispute.
A tenancy doesn't just give you rights - it also brings responsibilities. It's important you stick to the rules and don't break your tenancy agreement. Get advice as soon as possible if you have problems with paying your rent. Most tenants have some responsibilities regarding the upkeep of their homes. You should always look after the property as best you can and avoid causing damage to it or to your neighbours' property.

In general, landlords are responsible for repairs and maintenance of the exterior and the structure of the property, as well as the plumbing, wiring and central heating. They are also required to ensure that gas and electrical installations comply with safety standards. It is important to let the landlord or agent know about any maintenance required to the property.
Most landlords will conduct regular inspections of the property but are required to give notice and in most cases will arrange visits to suit the tenantís commitments.

You can enjoy many happy years in the property of your choice. Just make sure you are aware of your responsibilities, especially to neighbours!

Parkinson Property

27th July 2012


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