1 Register your interest
The first step is to contact local letting agents in your chosen area and register on their rental database. Either visit their office, register on their website or make an enquiry via their properties on Rightmove or Zoopla. Make sure that you are clear about what you want especially the number of bedrooms and your budget. Then make sure you stay contactable because desirable properties go quickly. If you have been served notice by your current landlord or you have served notice to leave, be sure to tell the agent and give them the latest date you need to move out.
The first step in renting a property is getting in touch with local letting agents in the area you are interested in. You can visit their offices, register on their website, or search for their properties on Rightmove or Zoopla. Make sure you know what you want, such as the number of bedrooms and your budget. It is also important to stay contactable, as desirable properties get snapped up quickly. If you have been served notice by your current landlord or if you have served notice to leave, make sure you inform the agent and give them the latest date you need to move out.
2 Finding the right property
Sit down and think about your ideal property. Most importantly, be strict with what you do and don’t want, and what you consider to be a deal breaker. Don’t compromise on those deal breakers or you’ll come to regret it. Budget should be a key factor in your property search. Don’t overstretch yourself financially, make sure you take into account all other costs involved, including bills, council tax, moving costs, agency fees etc. Your take home pay (of all tenants combined) should be at least 2.5x your proposed monthly rent, otherwise you may not pass referencing on your income level.
Take the time to think about what type of property you want. Decide which features you absolutely need, and which ones you can live without. It is important to stick to your deal breakers and not compromise on them. When budgeting, be sure to consider all other costs, such as bills, council tax, moving costs, and agency fees. All tenants should have an income that is at least 2.5 times the proposed monthly rent, otherwise you may not pass the referencing process.
3 Is a short let right for you?
An assured shorthold tenancy agreement is issued for either 6 or 12 months. However, if you’re waiting for the purchase of a property to go through or you’re relocating for work for a short time, you may want to consider a short let. Periods available can be anything from a month to 5 months however the rent you’ll pay for these lets are significantly higher as a result.
4 Holding payments
Once you’ve found a property you like you could put down a holding payment. This will secure the property and the agent will not arrange any more viewings. When your offer is accepted this money will form part of the initial rent or your deposit or perhaps be set
against the agency charges. If you pull out, you lose the money but if the landlord cannot or will not let to you it will be returned.
Once you have placed your holding deposit, you will be required to undergo reference checks to confirm your identity, your place of work and your earnings, and to confirm that you do not have any adverse credit. You will also be verified as permitted to reside in the UK and are not subject to any immigration controls. You should declare if you have any unsatisfied CCJ or bankruptcies as this may jeopardise your application. You will be asked to provide a photographic ID together with evidence of Right to Rent in the UK, your earnings and your current address.
Once you have paid your holding deposit, you will need to undergo a series of reference checks. These checks will confirm your identity, employment, income, credit rating, and immigration status. You should also inform the landlord if you have any unsatisfied CCJ or bankruptcies, as this could affect your application. You must also provide a form of photographic ID, proof of your right to rent in the UK, evidence of your income, and proof of your current address.
If you are on a low income or want to live in an expensive house you may need a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who should have a clean credit history, a homeowner and/or be in full time employment with take home earnings of a minimum of 3x monthly rent. The guarantor should understand their obligations as they will be asked to sign a legally binding document agreeing to certain conditions which will include paying the rent if for any reason you are unable to meet your commitment.
7 Your Tenancy Agreement
The tenancy agreement will be the legal document that details your rights and obligations as tenants, and the obligations and expectations of your landlord, and the agreements made by all parties. It will set out the core terms and will include all the rules of the property. You should make sure your agent or landlord gives you a copy of the draft tenancy agreement well ahead of the start date of the tenancy for you to read in the comfort of your own home and you should ensure you do this so you are clear as to what you are signing. If you are not sure of anything contained in the agreement, ask the agent for clarification, seek legal advice or get help from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
8 The security deposit
Before you move in, you will need to pay a security deposit along with your first months rent. Your security deposit (also called damage deposit) is there to indemnify the landlord against loss of rent or to pay for any damage if you were found to be responsible for causing it. In general, the amount required is equivalent to 4 weeks rent. By law this must be protected in a Government approved deposit scheme within 30 days from the start of the tenancy The Landlord or his Agent is required by law to give you “Prescribed Information” with details of the relevant scheme.
9 The Inventory
The Inventory and/or Schedule of Condition processes is a formal way of noting the cosmetic condition and contents of a rented property. This descriptive information will, ideally, be supported by good quality photographs. The Inventory document is then given to all parties to sign at the beginning of the tenancy to confirm that it’s accurate. Check it carefully and question anything that you do not understand. At the end of the tenancy, the same document is then used compare the state of the property and on the findings of this comparison the deposit is then awarded appropriately.
10 The end tenancy process
There are strict timescales involved in ending a tenancy. This starts from the date notice is served which is usually one or two months, depending on what has been agreed. Once notice is served the clock starts ticking. The date you leave will be agreed and the agent will put the wheels in motion. If the property is put back on the market, viewings may take place so it’s important to keep the property looking nice for them to show round prospective new tenants. If an inventory was compiled when you moved in, the inventory clerk will meet you at the property on your last day to conduct the check-out process and at that point you surrender the property back to the agency by handing over your keys. From that point on you will not be allowed to return to the property. The agent will then be in touch with you within 10 days of that date to arrange the return of your deposit if there are no deductions. If, however the landlord wishes to make deductions from your deposit, there will be a set procedure for that to take place. Details of which can be found on the website for the deposit scheme that is being used.
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