Top ten tips for renting a home

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Top ten tips for renting a home

Postby admin » Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:58 pm

RENTING a home can be a thankless task. Almost everyone ends up doing so at some point in their lives, yet when it comes to help and advice tenants can often feel like a forgotten tribe. Initiatives are launched left, right and centre to help first-time buyers,families climbing the property ladder and pensioners struggling to keep their homes, but rarely do renters get a look in.

In a bid to level the playing field slightly, new Government laws regarding multiple occupancy homes and protecting tenants' deposits have been put in place, but picking your way through the pitfalls of the lettings market is still a tricky task.

Renting is often thought of as something done by people before climbing the property ladder, but many homeowners opt to rent for periods of time while waiting to buy.

Choose the right property and agent, and renting can be a joy - the money might be paying someone else's mortgage but freedom and the ability to pass on responsibility is yours. On the other hand, take the wrong route and a tenancy can be six months or longer of daily stress and pain.

But there are ways to make sure your next letting experience is more hospitable than horrible.

1. Do your research

Spend plenty of time investigating the area. The advantage of renting is that you can move when your tenancy is up, but don't think too short-term – make sure this is the area you want to live in. If you have children make sure you look into the local schools and not just the nearest one – you may not be guaranteed a place. The best way to get a feel for an area is to visit and have a wander around on foot.

You can register with and get landlords contact you, or see properties from a list of trusted letting agents.

2. Use the whole rental market

Don't just walk into the High Street estate agents. Large firms can have a wide range of property but check out property management agencies and private landlords too and make sure you are not paying over the odds.

3. Take your time viewing properties Looking around rental properties can be a bit of a whistle stop tour but if you find somewhere you like don't just give it a ten minute once over. Check everything carefully. Does it have central heating, a washing machine, dishwasher, decent fridge and freezer? What are the showers like? Are the windows in good condition? These can all be forgotten in the heat of the moment. Make a checklist to take with you when viewing properties you really like.

4. Ask the agent about their fees
Before you make an offer, quiz the agent about fees for references and credit checks. Sadly ramping up fees is a sharp practice that started in the cut-throat lettings market in certain areas of London, spread outwards to encompass most of the capital and has now gained a foothold in other major cities in the UK.

For example, a credit reference should only cost around £30 to £40 – some unscrupulous agents hit potential tenants with a bill for £100 for these. Avoiding firms that charge high fees is the only way to try and put a stop to this. If they cook up expenses at the start, it's also likely they will try and cash in on your deposit when you move out.

5. Choose flatmates carefully

If you are looking at renting with others, choose who you live with carefully. A recent poll by rentdirectuk showed chef Jamie Oliver is the person people would most like to live with, while troubled popstar Pete Doherty was the least popular. It's unlikely most people will end up with a celebrity housemate, good or bad, but little things can make the difference between harmony and torment. Money is the most common cause of dispute. Make sure you work out your budget and how bills will be paid.

6. Haggle over price??????????

Before the credit crunch tenants had the upper hand when negotiating the rent, things have changed considerably in the last 18 – 24 months. The credit crunch has led to tighter mortgage conditions making it hard for people to obtain mortgages. This has led to less people being unable to purchase a house and pushed up the demand for rented property in most of the UK.

It is best not to haggle over price to you have at least seen the property and the agent or landlord done the relevant credit history checks and deems you as an ideal tenant, then and only then may you politely suggest a possible or £5 per week discount, or maybe more. Landlords currently have at least 5 people chasing each property, if you come and start haggling too soon, you will put them off, they might even assume that you will be a trouble tenant and turn you down.

7. Make sure you set up direct debits or payments properly Being a tenant who doesn't pay on time is the best

way to ensure your landlord or agent won't go out of their way to help you. Getting all the finances sorted properly and having the deposit, first month's rent and subsequent rent arrive on time will mean that you are immediately onside with the people you need to call if the plumbing goes or you want a new oven.

8. Do a full inventory

Don't be tempted to skip through the inventory and move in as soon as you can. If you don't go through everything with a fine-toothed comb, then you are leaving yourself open to cash being taken from your deposit. It's not just furniture and contents that need checking, note if carpets and curtains have been steam-cleaned and check the soft furnishings'

condition. In the first few days of moving in, take a note of all the problems you spot and let the agent or landlord know, preferably in a letter or email then you have a copy should things go wrong.

9. Tell your agent or landlord if there are problems

Landlords are not psychic. You may know that the washing machine has stopped working and grumble about it, but unless someone tells them they don”t know work needs doing. Don't be shy in reporting any difficulties, having fixed at no cost to you is one of the privileges of being a tenant. A good landlord will also appreciate knowing if something needs doing – after all, its their investment you live in.

10. Don't let your deposit go easily.

It shouldn't happen but it does. Some landlords and agents, whether renting out shared digs or a family home, try and cash in one departing tenant's deposits. By law they must prove they must put your deposit in one the deposit schemes, make sure that after you have paid your deposit to ask for details of where it has been lodged. You should be contacted via email and by post by the company holding your deposit. You can also report your landlord if they fail to put your deposit in one of the approved schemes.notify you exact cost of every deduction. Do not be fobbed off and do not be fooled by bluster. If there are any deductions to be made this will be administered by the firm/body holding your deposit having first asked you if you wish to dispute the claim for damages or monies owed by you to the landlord..

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