Five questions you need to ask before renting a property

Think carefully before signing that tenancy agreement

Think carefully before signing that tenancy agreement - Credit: Archant

It’s easy to rush into a tenancy agreement without seriously thinking things through first.

Finding the best possible rental is worth investing time in however, and property specialist Leaders believes there are five key questions any tenant should ask before signing on the dotted line.

1) What will it cost?

Sadly, there’s much more to renting than that monthly direct debit. As well as the rent, you also need to factor in the required deposit, council tax, utility bills, agent fees and moving costs in order to work out whether a property is actually affordable.

2) Will the deposit be held safely?

Your deposit should be registered with an approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme and held safely in a protected account covered by a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme. Ask the agent if they belong to a CMP scheme or look out for the SAFEagent logo – a sure sign that your cash will be protected.

3) Is the property safe to live in?

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Landlords are responsible for a range of safety checks designed to keep their tenants safe. If the property has any gas appliances you should be given a gas safety record at the start of your tenancy. In addition, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted as appropriate, electrical appliances must be adequately maintained, and furnishings should comply with fire safety rules.

4) What condition is the property in?

A thorough inventory and schedule of condition at the start of a tenancy protects your interests. If you leave the property in the stated condition – with the exception of fair wear and tear – at the end of the tenancy, your deposit must be returned in full. It’s up to you to confirm the inventory’s accuracy, and point out any necessary corrections.

5) What are your rights and responsibilities?

The landlord or agent can’t enter your home without prior notice and permission, unless it’s an emergency. Be clear on what you’re signing up to, for example the amount of notice either side needs to give, who is responsible for repairs and whether you’re allowed to decorate. All of this should be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement, which you should make sure you have read and understood before signing.

Finally, remember that not all letting agents are regulated. Steer clear of shady agents by signing with one who’s a member of a governing body such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Happy house-hunting!

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