Renting, especially in competitive rental markets like London, can be confusing and overwhelming with all the paperwork required these days. It is important to read the fine print before you sign any contract or agreement. So, when you are ready to sign on the dotted line of a tenancy agreement, check the following items carefully, whether it just for an assured shorthold tenancy or a fixed term tenancy:
1. The Kind of Tenancy Agreement
A tenancy agreement for a set duration of 12 months is generally often used for student lets for local or international students. Aside from that, a landlord may give a group of students one of two forms of lease arrangements.
A separate contract between each renter and the landlord is the (better) type including the deposit amount and special clauses if any and the council tax rates mentioned accordingly.
If you have the option, request this form of contract. Individual contracts mean that if one member of the group leaves the residence for whatever reason or fails to pay rent on time, the remainder of the group is not obligated to compensate them.
The entire group is accountable for the property and collective rent payments under a joint tenancy agreement.
This also implies that if any of the joint tenants decide to cancel the lease and move out, the landlord may require all tenants to depart unless they can reach an arrangement with the landlord.
Listen to the podcast’s Housing Horror Stories episode to learn how signing a joint tenancy agreement backfired on one.
2. The Small Print in the Tenancy Agreement
Contracts are often long and tedious to read, making even the longest writings appear interesting.
However, it is always (!) crucial to read the fine print. A little more work now can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Here are the primary things to keep an eye out for in a tenant and Landlord agreement.
3. What to look for in a Tenancy Agreement
- Check the start and end dates of your tenancy.
- double-check that every tenant’s name, as well as the landlord’s, is on the contract.
- double-check that you understand your duties and that you agree.
- Check the rent amount and who is responsible for it.
- double-check that the contract allows for ordinary wear and tear of the property.
- double-check for any agreed-upon repairs you want your landlord to make before/as soon as you move in a fixed-term tenancy, and you have a break clause in it.
Don’t be scared to bring things up with the landlord or agent if something seems strange to you or if you want to change something in the contract.
Similarly, if the landlord agrees to fix or purchase something, make sure you have it in writing so it gets done. The landlord can deny that they ever offered it if it isn’t in the contract. There’s no going back after you’ve signed that nasty piece of paper.
4. Deposit Insurance Plans
The deposit is one of the most ignored components of any leasing agreement. Deposits are normally approximately one month’s rent and are collected prior to the start of the lease in case of late rent or property damage during your stay.
Make sure you understand what you’re paying and that the whole amount is guaranteed for the duration of your stay.
Landlords are required by law to register all deposits within 30 days with a government-backed deposit protection program.
The Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), MyDeposits, and Tenancy Cleaning Scheme are the only three recognized programs in the UK (TDS). Check to see if your landlord is a member of a program and has submitted your deposit for protection.
If you’re concerned that your landlord isn’t following the requirements, use DPS, MyDeposits, or TDS to see if the property is on record. If it isn’t, your landlord is in violation of the law, and you are entitled to damages.
As you may be aware, many students frequently lose a significant percentage of their deposit at the conclusion of their lease. This is usually due to damage or additional cost from required services like professional pest control, for example, however, it is sad that some landlords will try to extract as much money as possible from you.
You are, however, entitled to your money back, and a deduction should be made only if the reasons and amounts are entirely justified (with evidence). Your money will be held in the deposit program until the landlord and renters have reached an agreement.
5. Personal Guarantees
Most landlords will want a guarantor for every student renter. Simply put, a guarantor is someone who promises to pay your rent if you fail to make payments in the worst-case situation.
This isn’t a backup plan for you in case you run out of money one month; rather, it’s a guarantee to the landlord that they won’t be taken advantage of if you fall behind on your rent.
If the landlord has to pursue your guarantee for a rent payment, it’s far worse, and the guarantee might be sued – so never skip a payment. Here’s what you should do if you’re having trouble paying your rent.
The landlord will normally not demand your guarantor to sign the contract in person but will ask them to sign a copy and return it with evidence of identification and evidence of residence.
It’s critical that you find someone you can trust, and you should never count on them to save you.
6. The Summer Vacation Period
Whether you are flying off to somewhere sunny or staying at home to save money during the summer, keep in mind that most landlords will require at least half rent between July and August if you want to keep your apartment.
If you believe the property will not be in great demand, you may be able to avoid paying the retainer – but you must consider if this is a risk you are prepared to accept.
Whatever you choose, be sure you read the contract thoroughly. It may state that you are not permitted to dwell in the property during the summer owing to home maintenance work, or that if you do, you will be responsible for full rent, even if only one or two renters are present.
7. Rent Negotiations
Remember that, at the end of the day, landlords are salesmen with you as their clients! Have a thorough discussion about the rent they’re requesting, and don’t be hesitant to haggle on the price if you believe a lesser cost would be more acceptable.
Just keep in mind that if the home is in good condition and housing is scarce in your region, it might not be worth the risk of the landlord accepting another group’s offer. However, there’s no harm in asking before signing anything!
Never rent a home if you’re not certain you’ll be able to afford the rent for the entire contract duration. Use our rent calculator to figure out how much money you have to play with in terms of rent.
Before someone moves in, an inventory is essentially a checklist for both the landlord and the renters to note any items given by the landlord as well as any flaws with the residence.
This prevents renters from being penalized for damage that was already there, as well as any disagreements about damaged or missing items.
After that, all parties must sign off on the inventory, so double-check everything. The residence is checked against the itinerary at the end of the year, and the deposit is refunded.
In today’s world, it’s typical for an independent business to do an inventory audit. This is a huge step forward since it ensures that the person conducting the check is objective – they have nothing to gain by favouring either the renter or the landlord, so they’re far more likely to be fair and honest in their judgment.
In many cases, the landlord will accompany you to the property to go over the inventory with you. If they aren’t, don’t be hesitant to ask them to come having them present to talk things over will help avoid any future disagreements.
It’s also a good idea to take your own pictures of the rooms and record any flaws, as well as a copy of the inventory. This serves as additional proof in the event that you are sued at the conclusion of the tenancy.
Some landlords may provide you an inventory to fill out on your own. Although tedious and time-consuming, it is definitely worth the effort to complete fully in order to save money in the future.
9. Fees charged by the Agency
Tenancy fees have now been abolished in England, Scotland, and Wales. So, for the most part, the days of being charged exorbitant fees for reference checks, check-outs, and other services are over.
Even if your landlord does not utilize an agency in Northern Ireland, they are still permitted to charge you fees. However, if you believe that the fees levied by estate agents are unjust or even illegal, you may be entitled to a refund. You can request a refund of your costs using a simple sample letter from Housing Rights.
One cost that estate brokers can demand is a holding deposit, which is capped at one week’s rent. Until the final tenancy agreement is completed, this deposit reserves the property.
10. Holding Deposit Requirements
If an estate agent requests a holding deposit, they must:
- Charge no more than one week’s rent as a holding deposit.
- Once the deposit has been paid, stop promoting the property.
- There can’t be numerous persons reserving the property at the same time, therefore only take one holding deposit at a time.
- Never treat you unfairly because of your handicap, gender, religion/beliefs, gender reassignment, pregnancy/maternity, race, or sexuality.
- Do not squander your time.
While the estate agent has the right to keep the holding deposit if you withdraw your offer, you have every right to request it returned if the foregoing requirements are not met.
Now that you are familiar with the 10 important things to check in your tenancy agreement, you should be ready to sign your tenancy contract, ensuring it is in your and your landlord’s best interest.
- Blogger and Educator by Passion | Senior Online Media & PR Strategist at ClickDo Ltd. | Contributor to many Business Blogs in the United Kingdom | Fascinated to Write Blogs in News & Education | I have completed a journalism summer course at the London School of Journalism and manage various blogs.
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