How to rent Guide in England: The checklist
This guide is for tenants and landlords in the private sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities when renting a property. This guide is for people who are renting a home privately under an assured shorthold tenancy, either direct from a landlord or through a letting agency like Rooftop Living.
Key questions before you start
- Is the landlord or letting agent trying to charge any fees?
- How much is the deposit? If the total annual rent is less than £50,000, the maximum deposit is 5 weeks’ rent. If the annual rent is £50,000 or above, the maximum deposit is 6 weeks’ rent.
- How long do you want the tenancy for? The landlord must allow you to stay in the property for a minimum of 6 months. However, it is possible to negotiate a longer tenancy.
- How much rent you can afford to pay?
- Are you are entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit?
- Which area you would like to live in?
- How you are going to look for a rented home?
- Do you have your documents ready?
- Do you have the right to rent property in the UK?
- Will you need a rent guarantee?
Ways to rent a property in England
- Direct from the landlord
- Through a letting agent like us
Things to check when you looking for your new home
- Check that the tenancy deposit you’re being asked for is not more than 5 weeks’ worth of rent (where annual rent is less than £50,000) or 6 weeks’ rent (where annual rent is more than £50,000);
- If the landlord asks for a deposit, check that it will be protected in a government approved scheme.
- Contact your local authority for advice;
- You may be required to pay a non-refundable fee up-front (often equivalent to one week’s rent) and/or a monthly payment for the duration of your tenancy;
- The length of tenancy is usually a fixed period of 6 or 12 months. If you want more security, it may be worth asking whether the landlord is willing to agree to a longer period;
- Check if there are any rules about pets and smoke inside the property;
- Check who is responsible for bills such as electricity, gas, water and council tax. You or the landlord?
- Check you are happy with fixtures and fittings;
- Landlords must have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of a property they let out;
- Check that the property is safe to live in. Your property must be safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm;
- Check who your landlord is; Landlords are obliged to provide you with this information and the rent is not ‘lawfully due’ until they do so;
Permitted fees are as follows:
- A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent, or 6 weeks’ rent;
- A refundable holding deposit capped at no more than 1 week’s rent;
payments associated with early termination of the tenancy (when requested by the tenant);
- Payments capped at £50 (or reasonably incurred costs, if higher) for the variation, assignment or novation of a tenancy
- Payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and Council Tax
- A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement
- Any charge for viewing the property;
- Any charge for setting up the tenancy or contracts;
- Check out fees, and any charge for leaving the property;
- Third-party fees, any charge for anything that is done by someone other than the landlord or tenant but that the landlord must pay for;
What to do when you’ve found a place to rent
- Make sure you have a written tenancy agreement and read it carefully;
- Agree on an inventory (or check-in report) with your landlord before you move in and, as an extra safeguard, make sure that you take photos;
- Remember to take meter readings when you move in. This will help make sure you don’t pay for the previous tenant’s bills;
- Make sure that you have the correct contact details for the landlord or letting agent;
The landlord must provide you with:
- A copy of ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ guide;
- A gas safety certificate;
- Deposit paperwork;
- The Energy Performance Certificate;
- A record of any electrical inspections;
- Evidence that smoke alarms and any carbon monoxide alarms are in working order at the start of the tenancy;
- Pay the rent on time;
- Pay any other bills that you are responsible for;
- Look after the property;
- Be considerate to the neighbors;
- Not take in a lodger or sub-let without checking whether you need permission from your landlord;
- Maintain the structure and exterior of the property;
- Ensure the property is free from serious hazards from the start of and throughout your tenancy;
- Fit smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with appliances using solid
- fuel and make sure they are working at the start of your tenancy. If they are not there, ask your landlord to install them;
- Deal with any problems with the water, electricity and gas supply;
- Maintain any appliances and furniture they have supplied;
- Carry out most repairs;
- Arrange an annual gas safety check by a Gas Safe engineer;
- Arrange a 5-yearly electrical safety check by a qualified and competent person;
- Seek your permission to access your home and give at least 24 hours’ notice of proposed visits.
- Neither the landlord nor the letting agent is entitled to enter your home without your express permission.
- Get a license for the property if it is a licensable property.
- Ensure the property is at a minimum of EPC energy efficiency band E (unless a valid exemption applies);
At the end…
- At the end of the fixed period, if you want to stay, you should you wish to extend your tenancy after any initial fixed period;
- If you or the landlord want to end the tenancy, there are things that both landlords and tenants must do:
- Giving notice: It is a legal requirement for landlords to give you proper notice if they want you to leave, and they can only legally remove you from your home with a court order.
- If you want to end the tenancy: Your tenancy agreement should say how much notice you must give the landlord if you want to leave the property.
- At the end make sure that your rent/bill payments are up to date. This might have an impact on your references and credit rating.
- Clean the house
- Return the keys
- If things go wrong, most problems can be resolved quickly and easily by talking to your landlord or letting agent.
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