As a rental tenant, once you’ve completed your search and found some properties that fit your criteria, it’s time to start thinking about viewings and getting your paperwork together. As a prospective tenant, it’s highly likely that you will be viewing your chosen properties around one or two times, on average, before moving in. After all, you can only tell so much from property descriptions and images found online.
However, as a tenant, you will likely have many questions you want to ask the landlord and letting agents, especially if you have certain factors to keep in mind and consider during your ongoing search. With this in mind, here are some of the most commonly asked tenant questions, along with the perfect answers, and some guidance on how to approach viewings.
How Much Are Bills And When Do They Need To Be Paid?
When viewing a property, it’s important to find out whether the landlord is intending to include bills within your rental payments, as this could have a huge impact on your monthly outgoings. If the landlord requires you to pay the bills yourself, then it is worth asking for an idea of how much you can expect each bill to be, so that you can then determine whether or not this fits into your overall budget.
If you’re planning on sharing the bills with other tenants, then you will also need to consider who will pay the bills and how these will be split and organised each month. Your tenancy agreement should detail whether you or your landlord is responsible for paying the electricity or gas bill. Remember, you don’t need to stick with your landlord’s choice of suppliers, so feel free to shop around to get the best deals.
What Local Amenities Are Nearby?
Whilst you might have found the perfect rental property, if the local amenities aren’t suited to your needs and requirements, then the property will be of no use to you. Ask your letting agent to give you some more information on the local area and what you can expect. They’ll likely have a whole host of information to hand about the local area and be able to inform you of the nearby transport links, local stores, supermarkets and green areas, as well as any other important information such as schools and gyms.
As well as the information the landlord, existing tenants and letting agents give you about the local area, it’s best to carry out some of your own research into the areas so that you can check the information you’ve been told. Be sure to do some research at different times of the day throughout the week so that you can get a feel for the area at rush hour and the weekend.
When Is The Rent Due and How Should It Be Paid?
Rent due dates vary and, whilst you might expect to pay rent at the beginning of the month, this is often not the case. Make sure you ask when the rent is due and how it should be paid during your viewing and also get the terms in writing if you choose to go ahead with the rental agreement. You might need to replan and rethink your finances depending on the rent due date, so this could be a deciding factor on your decision to move forward with the letting, especially if your finances aren’t that flexible.
You also need to confirm how your landlord or letting agent would like to be paid. If you are planning on living with others, then you should consider organising whether the monthly rent payment will be made separately, or contribution to communally.
What Deposit Is Required?
Almost every landlord and letting agent will require a deposit of some kind prior to you moving in, but this differs and is largely unique to the specific property and landlord or letting agent. A damage deposit is most likely to be within the region of about one month to five weeks rent and is typically required to be paid up-front before you move in.
This damage deposit should be protected in one of the government registration schemes. Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit into one of the government-approved tenancy deposit schemes and, at the end of your tenancy, your landlord must return your deposit within 10 days of an agreement being made in regards to the amount.
Some landlords also require you to pay a holding deposit upfront. This is a sum of money to show that you are a prospective tenant making a serious offer, but this figure should be capped to be just one week’s rent and should be refunded to you in full once you have agreed on the tenancy, or your first month’s rent has been paid.
What Is The Pet and Redecoration Policy?
All landlords will have their own policy as to whether pets and redecoration are allowed. Some are more lenient than others, but if you’re intending on bringing a four-legged friend with you, or would like to redecorate the property, it’s important that you know this before you make a decision on the tenancy and could stop you from getting into a dispute later on.
If your landlord or letting agent has quite strict views on pets and redecoration, then this could potentially change over time, once you prove yourself to be a reliable tenant. Some landlords may be open to you redecorating certain areas of the property, within reason, if this is agreed in advance, or may allow you to use professional decorators.
Depending on the state of the property when you view it, you might be able to ask for a rent reduction, or ask your landlord or letting agent to enquire about specialist cleaning services before you move in to ensure the property is clean. If this is the case, be sure to get it in writing and take plenty of photos before you move any of your belongings into the property. This can be useful for potential tenancy disputes in the future.
In regards to pets, if you don’t have one when you move in, but plan on getting a pet in the future, it’s best to let your landlord know this well in advance. Redecorating your property or moving a pet into the property without your landlord or letting agent’s permission could lead to you losing your deposit and getting into a dispute later down the line. Remember, this is still their property, so it is ultimately up to them.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
Whilst this is quite a general question, there might be other things that your landlord or letting agent would like to inform you about. When carrying out a property search and viewing, it’s important to remember to be curious and thorough about everything. This could be somewhere you might be living for months, or even years, so you shouldn’t leave any of the finer details to chance.