A renter’s guide: advice for tenants

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Put down a deposit

A holding deposit lets the landlord or agent know that you intend to rent the property so it can be taken off the market. Once you put down a deposit, the letting agent will start the process of getting your references and getting a full deposit.

References

Many landlords and agents will ask for references nowadays. This allows them to ascertain that you are able to afford the rent and it also allows them to check with your past landlords to ensure that you’ve rented property without any major issues in the past. The letting agent may ask for an administration fee in order to conduct these checks. This fee may or may not be refundable if you fail the checks. Confirm with the letting agent fast before you hand over your money. Your permission will be required before these checks are carried out. These checks may look into:
· Previous landlords’ references
· Your credit history
· Bank details such as account name and number
· Employment details such as job title, current employer, salary, previous employers etc.
You may be asked for a guarantor if the information reveals some sort of risk to your landlord. If you fail to pay your rent or if you cause some damage, the guarantor will be contractually liable to cover the costs.

Security Deposit

A security deposit can be one or two month’s rent and this amount will be held for the period of your stay as a tenant. The purpose of the security deposit is to protect the landlord in case a tenant causes damage or doesn’t pay their rent. Due to the many issues that have risen over security deposits, tenancy deposit schemes were introduced to protect both parties.
A landlord must join a government approved tenancy deposit scheme if they take deposits. This ensures the deposits are kept safe and will be returned to the tenants in full if the house is in good condition and they’re not behind on their rent payments. The scheme also provides dispute resolution services that are faster than going to court.

Inventories

An inventory is a list of things in the apartment and the condition these things are in when you move into the apartment. This list can be prepared by the landlord or letting agent. This list should be made with you present and you should only sign if you agree with it. You can also take photos as evidence. Some landlords conduct inventory checks regularly.

Tenancy agreement

This is basically a contract between you and your landlord. It lets you know your rights and the landlord’s rights. The most common type of tenancy agreement is the assured shorthold tenancy. Despite the name, there is no minimum or maximum term. The renter does have the right to stay in the property for at least six months.

Moving out

When it’s time to move out, you should do your best to ensure the property is in good condition to maximise your chances of getting back your full deposit. Ensure you’re present when a final inventory check is being carried out.

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