Top Tips for Tenants Looking for a Property to Rent

Whether you’re renting for the first time, upsizing to a bigger property, downsizing to a smaller property  or moving into a new area, renting gives you both flexibility and independence. 

However, it can feel a little overwhelming and there can be a lot of unanswered questions.

There is certainly a lot to think about when searching for a new home so we’ve discussed some of the important issues here:

Before You Start Your Search

One of the most important things to consider is how long you want the tenancy to last.

Normally, the initial fixed term is for 6 or 12 months but can be longer if agreed with the landlord.

In a fixed term tenancy, the landlord cannot serve you notice to leave (unless it is an eviction). However, if after the initial fixed term has ended, the tenancy becomes periodic and the landlord can give you two months notice to leave under current legislation. As a tenant, you have to give one months notice.

Check Your Finances

Before you start searching for properties, work out how much you can afford each month. 

Currently, the average monthly rent is around 35% of regular income but doesn’t include utilities like gas, electricity and water or amenities such as phone and internet connections, TV licence and council tax. This will differ for students but is the case for the majority of residential lets.

Then there is food, going out and any other regular outgoings. You usually have to pay a tenancy deposit which, in the majority of cases, will be equal to five weeks’ rent.

Your Essentials List

It is advisable to list the ‘non-negotiables’ that you must have in your new home. For example:

  • Is parking important?
  • Is a high broadband speed essential?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • How many bedrooms do you need?
  • Are you taking furniture with you?

After the vitals, detail the things that you could compromise on; storage, outdoor spaces etc.

We speak with many prospective tenants who look for property to rent in Derby and Burton and here are our top tips we give all of them regarding the renting process.

It makes their lives easier and means our landlords know that any tenants that come their way are fully aware of the process and obligations involved in renting privately.

Finding a Suitable Home to Rent

We’ve blogged about this before and as we’re specialists in Derby and Burton, we genuinely believe they can be great places to live and work. Make sure the property fits your lifestyle.

Talking to most tenants, location is still  the most important priority.

While most have a checklist similar to the one above, tenants usually look for properties that are in proximity to work, schools, colleges, workplaces, grocery shopping and entertainment options too.

We’re here to help and encourage prospective tenants to ask any questions that they have as this will help choose the right property for their requirements.

Here is a Property Viewing Checklist that may be useful!

Applying for a Property

Once you’ve found a property you like, you’ll be asked for a holding deposit equivalent to one week’s rent while formalities and reference checks are carried out. The checks include credit history, immigration status, employment and previous rental history.

If all the checks come through without a problem, a tenancy agreement will be drawn up to rent the property for the agreed initial fixed term. Make sure you are happy with the terms and ask questions on anything that you don’t understand. Once it’s signed, that’s it!

The Tenancy Deposit, Property Inventory and Rent

Once you have signed the Tenancy Agreement, you can move onto the next stage of the process.

The majority of rental properties require a Tenancy Deposit being paid by you and lodged with a Government scheme. This will usually be the equivalent of five weeks rent and must be paid prior to the tenancy starting.

Prior to you moving into the property, a property inventory is prepared. A detailed, photographic inventory will show the condition of the property when you move in. At the end of the tenancy, a detailed final check out will take place which compares the condition of the property to the initial inventory. Any wear and tear or damage is assessed and may be deducted from the tenancy deposit.

This detailed inventory protects both you and the landlord.

You will also be required to complete a Standing Order Mandate to pay the rent when it is due on a monthly basis.

At the End of the Tenancy

When the tenancy period is nearing its end, you can ask if the landlord will agree to renew the tenancy which means that there will be a new tenancy agreement prepared and a new fixed term agreed thus protecting you from having notice served on you to leave. The rent may also increase depending on the landlords wishes and the market rent for the property.

You also have the option of allowing the tenancy to become periodic and this will then be a rolling contract.

Or, you can leave the property for pastures new! If this is your preference, you will arrange to move out by the agreed time on the final day of the tenancy.

Make sure the property is clean and tidy and at least in the same condition as when you moved in. On the moving day, the inventory should be checked at the property by the landlord or their agent, with you in attendance, and it should be signed off by you as correct before you vacate.

Take a note of the meter readings for gas and electricity and apply for final billing. Don’t forget to arrange with Royal Mail to redirect mail to your new address.

Repayment of Your Deposit

Shortly after you move out, you will receive a detailed account from the landlord or their agent itemising the charges for dilapidations, if any, that you agreed when the inventory was reviewed during the check-out. Providing you agree the amounts, the full or balance of your deposit should be returned straight away.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!

It is important that you enter into a tenancy agreement with your eyes wide open, feeling fully informed and understanding the process completely.

If you have any questions about the lettings process whatsoever please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you have any other property related questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always happy to advise and help.