Renting a house is a long-term commitment. You need to have enough savings to put down a deposit, plus you need to be able to set aside a certain amount of your income every month to pay your monthly rent. On paper, renting a place sounds easy – you find a property online, you have a look at the property once or twice, you negotiate a contract with the landlord and you sign the lease agreement. However, there are some new laws and a few things that you need to keep in mind before you start renting in 2020. Maybe you’re shifting base from Manchester to Bromley, so you’re looking for estate agents in Bromley, maybe you’re shifting to the UK for the first time, or maybe you’re looking for a place on rent to complete your degree, nonetheless, here are the 5 key things that you need to know before you rent a house in the UK in 2020.
The Zero Deposit scheme has become one of the best alternatives to the usual 6-week deposit that needs to be paid upfront to the landlord. Under this scheme, you only have to pay one week’s worth of deposit to the company that is running the zero deposit scheme as opposed to paying 4 to 6 weeks deposit to the landlord. You don’t need to worry about saving up enough money for a deposit, nor do you have to worry about fighting with your landlord at the end of the contract to return your full deposit, given that there are no damages to the property. This one-week deposit is on a non-returnable basis, but it prevents your landlord from cutting excess money from your deposit while returning it at the end of the contract. If there are any disputes between the landlord and the tenant, this is taken up by The Dispute Service to ensure a fair judgement.
2 Make sure you read the contract
It goes without saying that you should read any legal document thoroughly before signing it. You must read through the whole contract, and if you have any doubts or hesitations, you can always seek legal advice. In the contract, there should be a full inventory list of all the items in the property – this includes appliances, furniture, carpets, light bulbs etc. The contract should also state who will be paying for initial cleaning of the property, whether you will be paying to fix any current damage which the landlord will reimburse or will the landlord fix these damages before handing over the keys to the property. If there are stains on the carpet or broken tiles in the bathroom, this should be mentioned in the contract in terms of the current condition of the property, otherwise, the landlord might cut the cost of repair from your deposit.
3 Consider the enforcement of the Renters Reform Bill
While this bill is currently only applicable in London and is currently in the process of becoming a law, it might be sooner than later that you will need to comply to the rules of this new bill. As mentioned in the Queen’s speech in 2019, this bill states that landlords will have a few more legal rights which will allow them to evict a tenant without reason. Currently, a landlord needs to give a tenant at least 8 weeks notice prior to eviction. That means you need to be on your best behaviour or have a good rapport with your landlord to prevent an eviction. Also, this bill proposes a lifetime deposit scheme under which a tenant can transfer the deposit to the new property when he or she moves.
4 Check the payment status of all the previous bills
Check the payment status of the electricity bill, wifi bill, water bill, landline bills, satellite TV subscriptions, and even the gas bill. When you walk into the property, the first thing you should do is check the electricity meter – if there is any usage, you should inform your landlord so that he or she can clear the pending bill and start you off from zero. The same applies to any other bills that you might have to pay every month. If you don’t check the usage or the pending bills before signing the contract, you might get stuck paying for someone else’s consumption. If there are any unpaid bills, that should be mentioned in your rental contract or the landlord should clear those bills before you sign the final contract.
5 Make sure you clean, regularly
Landlords are known to perform regular inspections, just so they can make sure their property is intact. If you happen to stain the rug or drop something on the couch, make sure you clean it up as soon as it happens. If you manage to scrape some paint off the wall or break a light bulb, make sure you fix the damages. Usually, a landlord will give you a 24-hour notice, or less, and in some cases, they can even show up unannounced. A messy property in their eyes means a reason to cut money from your security deposit. Also, keep in mind, you must leave the place spic and span before moving out. Place all the furniture the way it was, hire a cleanup crew to clean the place thoroughly and make sure everything is in place. Basically, the property should look the exact way that it did when you moved in. A messy property leads to a cut in your security deposit.
This goes without saying, but make sure you inspect the property thoroughly before moving in. Is there enough water pressure in the showers? Do all the light fixtures work? Are any locks broken? Is there any visible damage to the furniture? Are all the electronic appliances working properly? Are there any leaky faucets? Make a note of all the issues that you find and hand it over to your landlord to fix before you move in. Once you’ve made the move, it will be pretty difficult for you to convince your landlord to pay for these repairs. Other than this, make sure you pay your rent on time and maintain the property – these two factors will ensure a happy landlord.