What to expect when renting your first property

by Rizwan Osman on 2nd March 2020

Moving into your first rental home is a major milestone and quite an adventure. But with a lot to think about, and plenty of expenses to budget for, it can be daunting too. The key to avoiding the stresses is being organised and realistic about your finances. To help you, we’ve pulled together a list of essential things to do if you’re renting for the first time.

What to expect when renting your first property

1 Don’t rush it

It takes time and money to secure the perfect rental property. Before beginning your search, assess your finances, assemble the documents that you will need and decide how long you want the tenancy for. Think carefully about the location and the type of property you are looking for – don’t be tempted to make rushed decisions.

 

2 Take control of your finances

It’s important to only consider properties which you can comfortably afford. In addition to your rent you will have to pay council tax and utility bills. You will have to pay at least one month’s rent in advance together with a security deposit, which could be as much as five weeks’ rent. Even if you are looking at furnished places, it is likely you’ll have to buy some items, such as bedding, a kettle and toaster – and it all adds up. Make sure you have saved up enough to cover these expenses before you start looking.

Begin by making a list of all your outgoings and your income. Pull together a weekly and monthly budget for yourself, including your rent, bills, travel and any additional living costs. This will help you understand the maximum rent you can afford. It is also one of the best ways to save money and keep track of your spending once you’ve moved in – there are plenty of apps to help you do it.

 

3 Get your documents together

Your prospective landlord or letting agent will need to assess your suitability for renting the property. As you don’t have a previous landlord to provide references, they will request these from your employer and possibly a personal referee. You will have to provide your bank statements, plus the details of your employment and salary. As a new renter, you may also need a guarantor.

Rather than rushing to assemble this information when asked for it, get everything together before searching for your home. You will give a better impression if you appear organised and well-informed.

 

4 Start your property search

Before you start looking at properties, be methodical in setting out your criteria for the search. Do you need a parking space, or should your home be close to a bus stop or train station? How many bedrooms do you need? Is access to a garden important to you, and would a furnished or unfurnished property best suit your needs? Be honest about the maximum rent you could afford to pay including bills and stick to it.

 

5 Take a professional approach to viewings

Make a shortlist and view any properties you are interested in. Don’t just wander around vaguely taking in the atmosphere – check the place carefully.

  • Test the phone signal and ask for the wifi code to check this too.
  • Flush to loo to make sure it’s working and run taps to check the water pressure.
  • Look for signs of damp and mould – especially in bedrooms and bathrooms – are there patches on the walls or a smell of mildew?
  • Look too for mouse droppings or other signs of pests.
  • Check the white goods and appliances – are they clean and working – do they light up if switched on.
  • Check there are smoke alarms on all floors and a carbon monoxide alarm if there are gas or solid fuel appliances.

 

6 Ask the right questions

When you visit properties, think carefully about their potential benefits and shortcomings, and ask questions:

  • How much is the monthly rent?
  • Is it an assured shorthold tenancy?
  • When does the tenancy start?
  • What is included in the rent?
  • What additional bills will you be responsible for and how much are they likely to be?
  • How much is the security deposit and where will it be protected?
  • Are there fees if you renew the tenancy in the future?
  • How long is the contract?
  • What notice period is required?
  • Who should be contacted in the case of an emergency?
  • What insurance does the landlord have and what do I need to arrange?
  • Are there any duties you need to perform aside from keeping the place clean and tidy – maintaining the garden, for example?

 

7 Signing on the dotted line

Read your tenancy agreement carefully and seek advice before you sign it, particularly if you have concerns or if there are any clauses that you do not understand.

 

8 Moving in

Agree an inventory with your landlord and protect yourself by taking photos and videos of the condition of the property and items of furniture when you move in – these will help you if there is ever a dispute about damage at the end of the tenancy. Keep a copy of the inventory.

  • Take meter readings as soon as you move in.
  • Get the contact details for the landlord.
  • Check that you have all the documents your landlord is required to provide:
  1. A copy of the ‘How to rent’ guide
  2. A gas safety certificate
  3. Details of the deposit protection scheme your landlord is using
  4. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
  5. A record of any electrical inspections.

9 Your responsibilities as a tenant

Your primary responsibility will be to pay the rent on time. You should also keep the property clean and take good care of the fixtures, fittings and appliances. Never attempt any repairs or decorating without contacting your landlord or agent for permission and guidance.

Always report any issues no matter how minor, as small problems could develop into bigger ones. Failure to mention any problems from the outset could threaten your deposit. Be considerate to your neighbours and build a good relationship with your landlord.

 

10 Your landlord’s responsibility to you

Your landlord or letting agent has the following responsibilities to you:

  • To maintain the structure and exterior of the property
  • To insure the building
  • To install smoke alarms on every floor
  • To fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms using solid fuels
  • To address problems related to the water, electricity and gas supply
  • To maintain appliances and furniture which belong to them
  • To carry out most repairs at the property
  • To arrange an annual gas safety check
  • To give a minimum of 24-hours’ notice of visits to perform repairs or maintenance
  • To get a licence for the property, if one is required.

 

Can we help?

If you’re looking for a place to rent, we’d be happy to offer you more advice you and show you our selection of rental properties – please get in touch today.