Renting a home: top five tips

Renting a home can occasionally be a stressful business, but there are ways that you can minimise any issues that might occur between you and your landlord. Here are our top five tips for a successful tenancy.

Read your contract

Some of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants are a result of miscommunication, so carefully read your tenancy agreement before signing it, and if needs be clarify any areas you’re not sure about with your landlord or managing agent.

Common areas of contention include gardens (is there a gardener or are you responsible for its upkeep?), parking (do you need to pay for a parking permit?) and bills (are any of the household bills included in the rent?).

Meet your landlord

Maintaining a good relationship with your landlord is one of the key aspects of having a successful tenancy, so if possible, meet your landlord in person before moving in. By doing this you can get some insider tips about the home (where are the electricity meters? etc) and you’ll have a chance to iron out any things you’re not sure about.

This isn’t always possible, of course. If your landlord uses an agency to manage the tenancy, make sure you have an agent show you around. Don’t fret too much, as your managing agent will be well-versed in the common problems faced by tenants, and might even be able to fix any issues with the property more quickly than your landlord could.

Don’t forget about the inventory

There are plenty of horror stories out there, but disputes over deposits aren’t nearly as commonplace as some claim. In addition to carefully checking your contract before signing it, you can minimise the likelihood of a deposit dispute by taking the inventory process seriously.

Inventories are undertaken at the start and end of the tenancy by a registered inventory clerk. During an inventory check, all items in the property that belong to the landlord will be itemised in a list, which you, the landlord and the clerk will sign. Anything missing or broken at the end of the tenancy will cost you money, so it pays to keep on top of your inventory.

Check your deposit is protected

Your landlord must register your deposit with a government-approved scheme, and within a few weeks of moving in you should be provided with a certificate, which tells you whether your deposit is registered with the Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

This is important as at the end of the tenancy, the scheme will release your deposit, and can act as a resolution body if there are any disputes between you and your landlord that can’t be easily resolved.

Make sure you’re insured

While it’s your landlord’s responsibility to insure the building and provide the relevant safety certificates each year, your belongings are very much your responsibility.

Make sure you have adequate contents insurance for your belongings and check your policy carefully as the rules often differ between standard lets and student properties where each room could be considered to be a separate dwelling.