The Rental Process
A renter’s guide: advice for tenants
This guide will provide you with all the information and advice you need
Securing a property to rent
Begin by putting down a holding deposit in order to state your intention to rent the property and have it taken off the market. Don't forget to check whether there are any other letting agents marketing the same rental home.
The letting agent or landlord will then begin the administrative process of requesting references from you.
Your prospective new landlord will be keen to make sure that you are a suitable tenant and that you have the ability to pay your rent. They may also be interested in whether you have rented a property without any major problems in the past.
If instructed, the letting agent will organise this and is likely to ask for the administration fee and your permission to conduct relevant searches.
Be aware that if you fail any of the necessary checks, you may not get your administrative fee back. Check with the letting agent before agreeing to hand over any cash or signing any forms.
If you agree, some or all of the following documents may be requested by the letting agent:
References from previous landlords - you may be asked to give the details of where you have lived within the last three years
A credit check - this will allow them to see if you have a good history of paying your bills.
Your bank details, including bank name, account number and sort code
Details of your employment, including your employer, job title, payroll number, salary and previous employer
In the event that the information highlights any potential of risk to the landlord, you may be asked to provide a guarantor.
A guarantor will be contractually liable, both financially and legally, should you fail to pay the rent during your tenancy or in the event of damage to the property.
The last and final step in securing a property is putting down the deposit.
The deposit is a safety net for the landlord to guard against the cost of replacing or repairing property damaged by you.
Tenancy deposit protection key points:
Landlords are required to join one of the Government-backed tenancy deposit schemes
You will get all or part of your deposit back at the end of the tenancy if you have kept the rental property in good condition
The schemes offer alternative ways of resolving disputes which aim to be faster and cheaper than taking court action.
This is one of the most important documents in the renting process and can be key in deciding how much of your deposit is returned at the end of your tenancy.
You should be extremely thorough and give it your full attention while taking the necessary precautions to protect your interests.
How is the inventory prepared?
The inventory is a simple list detailing every item contained within the property and the condition each listed item is in, as well as the state of the property itself, on the day you move in.
This may be prepared by either the letting agent or the landlord. Either way, you should go around the property with the landlord or agent and agree on the state of each item before signing anything.
If necessary, take photographic or video evidence to give you extra protection and avoid any unnecessary disagreement at a later stage.
You will be expected to sign the inventory and initial every page, along with the landlord or letting agent.
When will the inventory be checked again?
It is not uncommon for landlords and letting agents to schedule regular three monthly inventory checks at the property in order to assess any damage that may have occurred.
Find out if there are regular checks planned and when they will take place. It is most common, however, for a final inventory check the day you are scheduled to move out.
The tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord. It specifies certain rights to both you and the landlord, such as your right to live in the home for the agreed term and your landlord's right to receive rent for letting the property. It is therefore vital that you read, understand and agree with the contract.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies
ASTs are the most common form of the tenancy agreement and set out the duties of both you and the landlord.
The most important aspect of the agreement is that the landlord has the right to repossess the property at the end of the agreed term.
Despite its name, the agreement does not have to be short and can continue as long as both parties are happy to do so.
There is no minimum term specified either, although you have the right to remain in the property for at least six months.
However, if the fixed term is for three or more years, a deed must be drawn up and a solicitor employed to do so.
There are specific requirements linked to an AST that include:
The tenant(s) must be an individual(s)
The property must be the main home of the occupant(s)
The property must be let as separate accommodation
The landlord is obliged to provide the tenant with two months' notice if they want to terminate the agreement
The agreement will most likely contain the following information:
Your name, your landlord's name and the address of the property which is being let
The date the tenancy will commence
The duration of the tenancy from the start to the agreed finish of the occupation
The amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid, when it should be paid and when it can be legally increased
What payments are expected, including Council Tax, utilities and service charges
What services your landlord will provide, such as maintenance of common areas
The notice period which you and your landlord need to give each other if the tenancy is to be terminated
Tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities
The responsibilities of both parties are likely to be detailed within your tenancy agreement, although some conditions may vary between properties and landlords.
Preparing to move in
When all the paper work has been completed, it is time to move in. Check out our top tips to reduce your move stress.
When you come to the end of your time at the property, you have two options to consider:
Extend the agreement
Remember, you need to provide two months' notice in writing to your landlord, stating either your intention to vacate the property or to ask permission to stay on beyond your initial agreement.
Landlords like low maintenance tenants, so providing your landlord is happy with you and the condition of the house or flat, you'll most likely be allowed to continue with your occupancy.
If you decide to move out, it's worth putting in a bit of work to get the property up to scratch to maximise the chances of getting your full deposit back.
As long as the condition of the property is the same as when you moved in (barring normal wear and tear), you should have no problem.
Here is what you should do:
Give the property a thorough clean, including carpets, windows, walls and furniture
Clear away any rubbish
If it's your responsibility, tidy up the garden
Remove all your personal belongings
Be satisfied you're leaving the property as you found it
Return all the keys to the landlord
Final inventory check
You'll have the opportunity to run through the inventory checklist on the day of departure.
It's important that this job is done as you leave the property to avoid you being accountable for any damage that occurs after you've left.
If there is any damage, you should agree with the landlord the cost of repairing or replacing such items.
If an agreement cannot be reached as to the damage of particular items, which items have been damaged, or repair costs, then you should make sure you take photographs.
Get your own repair cost estimates and write to the landlord with your findings and work towards a mutually agreeable solution.
If both you and the landlord are satisfied the property has been left in an acceptable state and you have made your final rental payment, there should be no problem getting your deposit back.