Whether you have rented many times or you are a first time tenant, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself with the process on each new move.
Work out your budget
Consider your finances and expenses to figure out how much you can afford in rental costs. Many financial experts recommend that you spend no more than 30% of your gross monthly income on housing. As well as rent, you will need to consider utilities, council tax, insurance, food, gas, clothes, entertainment, travel and any existing debt payments. Many of the homes on Love to rent portal have bills included in their rent for an even easier budget, search for these here
Where to live
One of the most exciting things about renting is the opportunity it gives you to live where you like. However, you don’t want to spend every spare minute looking at properties so you will need to narrow your search to a couple of locations that works for you. Points to consider:
- Your commute to work or study.
- Proximity to family and friends.
- Transport options close by.
- Neighborhood vibe.
- Local schools for children.
- Amenities in the area.
How to choose a rental home
Selecting your ideal property must go hand in hand with understanding what best suits your current lifestyle. If you have a car, you will need to consider off-street parking or a garage, if you have a pet you must agree this with your landlord and if outside space is important, find a home with a balcony, terrace or access to a garden. Think about how much space you want before you start your search. How many bedrooms do you need, perhaps you will be having visitors sleep over or maybe you need a spare room for a home office. Or perhaps having a large living room is more important to you so you can entertain at home. Consider how you like to live and prioritise accordingly.
How to find the perfect rental amenities
One of the benefits of renting a property in the build to rent sector is the additional amenities that come in many of the buildings. New apartment blocks often come with a swimming pool, gym, co-working areas and spaces to socialise and hang out with friends. Make a list of all the amenities that are important to you and narrow the field by the ones that are your top picks.
What you must have to rent a property
Once you have found the rental home of your dreams, it is important to have all paperwork to hand so you can act quickly and secure it. There’s always competition for the best homes. Here are some of the most important documents you need:
- Character and employment references: speak to your employer about being a referee confirming your employment details, income and character. You may also need to provide a reference from a previous landlord if you have one.
- Income status: if you are employed, you will probably be asked for three to six recent payslips. If you are self-employed, you may need to show earnings from a longer period of time in the form of bank statements, trading records or tax returns.
- Identity documents: you will need to confirm your identity and your current address. This could be a passport, utility bill or driving license and if you are coming to the UK from abroad, you will need to provide a copy of your visa.
- Credit checks: the landlord or letting agent will need to assess your credit score. Although you don’t need to provide any documents, you should have an understanding about your credit credentials. If you have missed payments or have unpaid loans, this can have a negative effect on your credit. But you can also have a poor credit score if you’ve never taken out any credit. There’s lots of online sites that allow you to check your credit score and tips to improve it.
What to ask your landlord or agent
Legally, your landlord or letting agency must provide you with a number of documents at the start of each tenancy. These include:
- A copy of How to Rent.
- A gas safety certificate.
- Deposit paperwork showing it has been protected in a Government approved scheme.
- The Energy Performance Certificate.
- Record of electrical inspections showing safety checks, ideally every five years.
Being a good landlord
As a tenant, your landlord has a number of legal responsibilities to both you and the property that you are living in. These include:
- Installing smoke alarms on each floor.
- Carbon monoxide alarms in rooms using solid fuels.
- Dealing with problems related to the utilities suppliers.
- Maintain the structure and exterior of the property.
- Insure the building.
- Maintain appliances and carry out repairs.
- Annual gas safety checks by a registered engineer.
- Give at least 24 hours’ notice prior to visits.
Being a good tenant
Although your landlord has many duties of care, as a tenant, you also have a number of responsibilities. These include:
- Paying your rent in full and on time.
- Looking after the property by keeping it clean and hygienic.
- Reporting any small issues to arrange repair.
- Understand how the boiler and major appliances work.
- Locate the stop cock, fuse box and meters.
- Be a considerate neighbour and no anti-social behaviour.
Tips from the experts
- Ensure you understand the length of tenancy offered. The landlord must allow you to stay for a minimum of six months but if you are planning for longer-term, speak to them at the outset.
- The build to rent sector offers much more flexibility in terms of length of tenancies than the traditional rental market. Renting should not mean that you can’t put down roots. The build to rent sector will allow you to set the time that you want to stay with no costly deposits needed to be paid upfront.
- Discuss if the property is pet friendly. Don’t think the landlord will change their minds and don’t plan to just sneak a pet in. There are many pet-friendly properties in the build to rent sector.
- If you are a smoker, check to see if this is permissible in the property.
- Agree an inventory with your landlord before you move in. Take photos and keep them safe in case there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy.
- Take meter readings and photos before you move in to ensure you don’t pay for the previous tenant’s bills.
- Keep all of your rental information filed in one place so you can easily access it if you need to. Add a rental page to the notes on your phone with all the important contact details in case you need to speak to anyone while you are outside of the property.