New Year, New Tenancy - Happy 2020!

Firstly, we'd like to wish all our Landords and Tenants a Happy 2020!

If you're looking to rent a property this year, it's worth knowing a few things first, so you understand your and your landlords obligations.

If you've never rented before, the  tenancy agreements can seem a bit complicated and have a lot of information so it’s important to understand the most important details before signing up to a new tenancy..

In the UK, it's likely that you will sign an Assured Shorthold Tenancy  (Known as an AST) agreement to rent a property, for a fixed period of time, often this will be 12 months but can vary. You'll find that the agreement will contain lots of standard details, like confirming the rent can’t be increased during the fixed period so you know exactly what your rent will be for that time, and it should detail the process involved if something happends and your landlord wishes to evict you.

When you read through you'll find that there are lots of clauses on your contract that you’ll hopefully never even have to think about, they would only come into effect in very specific situations and cover both you and your landlord based on the law at the time. That said it is very important to make sure all of the key details of the agreement are correct in case you find yourself in that position.

Here are the main things to look out for.

Start with the basics. It might sound obvious and of course they should be right, but mistakes do happen and we're all human, so just double check that your details (and those of any other tenants) are all present and correct.
Check that the address stated is definitely the property you’re planning on moving in to! It may not be on the first page of your agreement, but if you read through you will find it stated in one of the sections in the agreement. This is particularly worth checking if you need it to apply for help with your rent from a council for example. We quite often get a call in this situation, so a quick read through will make sure you know where it is ready to move forward.

Sharing a property? Are you in it together?
If you’re moving in to a property with friends or family, then it's likely you will be signing a joint tenancy agreement with them named on it, which makes you collectively responsible for the full value of the rent payments and for the condition of all of the property. If one of you doesn't pay their share of the rent, leaves early or trashes their room, you are all liable for the costs.

Make sure to be aware of and double check the start and end dates of the tenancy. Once the initial period has finished (often 12 months), don't think that you immediately have to move out.  Normally the contract  will become periodic meaning it rolls on month to month. You and your landlord can choose to renew for another fixed period if both parties agree. You should be contacted prior to the renewal date to give you options.
Also… just because a tenancy period has ended and you haven't signed a new agreement doesn't mean you no longer have to pay the rent, if you continue to live in the property then you are liable for the rent… The contact will become periodic unless specifically agreed otherwise.

 Are there any ‘break clauses’ allowing the landlord or tenant to give notice before the end of the fixed period?  If after 6 months for example you may need to move for work, or the landlord requires the property back this can be a useful clause on both sides.

Find out what you obligations in the propert are. Knowing what you can and can’t do at the start will save any confusion and frustrations on both sides. For example, are you expected to look after the garden, and are you allowed any pets?
Always ask whether pictures can be hung on the wall or if you can decorate, and get it in writing by email just in case.

Find out what your landlord’s obligations are. Your landlord will be expected to carry out most repairs on structural issues (such as problems with the windows or doors) and specialist maintenance areas such as wiring or plumbing.

Your agreement will specify whether any bills are included in the rent, if not then you will be responsible for them up to the day you hand your keys back.

Make sure you know your deposit is protected. Landlords must register your deposit with a government-backed scheme within 14 days. At Belvoir Aldershot we use the DPS currently.

So there you go, just a few pointers to get you started!