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5 Things to know before you rent a property

There will probably be many questions you will think about when looking to rent a property. Here are a few of the most common. For more details on any specific area of renting we suggest you use our comprehensive site search tool to locate more details.

Do I have to pay any fees to the Agent who I am using to find a rental property?

You should not pay introductory fees simply for registering your interest but there will be certain costs for you to cover, initially to cove referencing fees later if you take up the tenancy for inventories and for administration including the preparation of the tenancy agreement.

The Agent is asking for a holding deposit – What is it and do I get it back? Holding Deposits - usually a small amount — may be asked for when you make an offer on a property. If, for any reason, you decide not to go ahead by an agreed date, the holding deposit or part of it will be retained against any agency costs already incurred. After referencing it will be off-set against the first rent and full deposit payments. If the landlord decides not to proceed then the holding deposit will be returned. Paying a holding deposit does not guarantee you the property and in no way legally obliges either party to enter into a subsequent tenancy.

How much money do I need have at the beginning of the tenancy?

Usually at least a month’s rent in advance and the equivalent of a month to six weeks’ rent to be held as a deposit against damage (and the administrative charges noted above). You may asked to put down a larger deposit if there are any issues over your references, however assuming all goes well with the tenancy you will receive this back at the end.

What information will I need to supply the agent before I can take up the tenancy?

The names and addresses of referees for the agent to write and confirm your ability to meet the rental commitment. You may also be required to fill out referencing forms and this will ask for your bank or building society, employer, previous landlords, or for some, your solicitor and/or accountant.

What are my responsibilities as a Tenant?

These should be clearly set out in your tenancy agreement, which you should read carefully before you sign.

If in doubt, ask the agent. There is a duty for professional agents to ensure that anyone relying on them is offered correct advice. You can search our website for further information

What is the tenancy agreement? It is a legally binding document (the contract) between you and the landlord, applicable only to you and the property you are renting, that states the amount of rent, the length of the tenancy, your rights and responsibilities. Your agreement will most probably be an Assured Shorthold tenancy under the Housing Act 1988.

How long does the referencing take before I can move in?

Depending on the agent it can take between five and ten working days to take up and confirm references, accepting cleared funds covering the first rent period and the deposit, arrange for inventories. No professional agent should allow you possession before all this has been done.

How long can I rent the property for under my tenancy?

Most agents require that the initial period be for a minimum of six months and rarely write a tenancy agreement for longer than a year. After that you can take out an extension or a new agreement .. see below..

What do I do and what happens if I want to stay longer or leave early? Tenancies are frequently renewed and agents often agree the terms for renewal at the beginning and include them in the tenancy agreement. If you’re likely to leave before the end of the original term agreed, you must negotiate break clauses to be written into the agreement. If not, you will remain responsible for the rent until the end of the term agreed.

What other bills will I have to pay for?

Normally you pay gas, electricity, water and telephone bills and don’t forget the TV. licence, etc; and the Council Tax applicable to the property.

How do I end my tenancy?

You must make sure you fulfil your obligations stated in the tenancy agreement to leave the property in the condition it was in at the start, or deductions will be made from your deposit. These will may include cleaning and replacing any damaged items. All items must be returned to where you found it at the time of the inventory.

How do I get my deposit back at the end of the tenancy?

There is normally a “checkout” procedure when an inventory check and condition inspection takes place and providing there are no missing items or damage, your deposit should be returned shortly after you leave the property. You cannot set your deposit against the last rent payment due.

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