7 tips to remember if you’re thinking of renting a home

Holly Thomas / 08 August 2016

We list the seven things you should do as a tenant to ensure you get a fair deal

Renting is the new black, it seems. The increase in the number of people renting in the UK is gathering pace as people struggle with the cost of owning their own home.

But it’s not just first time buyers who are turning to renting homes.

Why rent?

More and more people are selling their property and moving into rented accommodation before buying a new home to make sure they hold on to their buyer when they haven’t themselves found the right home to buy.

There’s plenty of competition for a downsizer home so you may need to wait; if you don’t want to be rushed into buying a home that’s not quite what you’re looking for, renting is a useful temporary option.

Renting is also a good way for retired people to release income, boost a pension pot, fund an investment or lend or gift money to children or other family members.

A spike in renting inquiries

Property specialist Retirement Homesearch recorded a spike in inquiries among the over-55s about renting rather than buying properties for downsizing.

The trend for renting is expected to continue according to the experts. As more people rent their homes, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Five things that make a good buy-to-let property

Get a fair deal

If you think renting is for you, here are the seven things you should do as a tenant to ensure you get a fair deal:

During a viewing

• Take along a pre-written checklist, detailing everything that’s important to you to make the house a home, and check it off as  you go along

• Ensure white goods don’t look old and tired

• Ask about the broadband connection - is it decent?

• Make a call on your mobile to check that you’ll be able to get phone signal

• Check that all windows and doors have adequate locks

• Take care to spot things that a landlord or agent might want to hide; look behind furniture, peek into cupboards and check behind pictures for damp marks on walls

• If anything needs replacing or mending or refurbishing, now is the time to raise the issue. Once you move in, you will lose your power of negotiation.

Get repairs in writing

If you’re moving in on the condition that certain repairs are carried out, get a list of the work and a date by which it will be completed in writing and signed by the landlord.

Check you have the essentials

When you move in, check you have a valid gas safety certificate and, ideally, an electrical safety certificate, as well as confirmation that your deposit has been placed in a tenancy deposit scheme, for which you have all the details.

Your guide to paying a deposit when renting

Avoid bill shock

Make sure you pay attention to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) as energy bills will be the second-biggest costs you are likely to incur after your rent.

Energy prices are on the up

Read the small print

Your tenancy agreement is likely to be a lengthy document but it’s worth reading because it can list extra costs hidden away in seemingly standard paragraphs.

Upon leaving the property, you might be expected to have carpets professionally cleaned, for example.

Make sure you know what you’re signing and, if there’s something you’re not comfortable with, raise it.

Check the itinerary before you sign it

If the itinerary mistakenly lists a tumble dryer that belonged to the previous tenant and has been removed accordingly when they left, you’ll be held accountable for its whereabouts when you come to leave. 

Check everything listed on the itinerary is in situ before you sign to avoid having to replace something you never had in the first place.

If things go wrong

All letting agents have to belong to a redress scheme through the Property Ombudsman.

The purpose of these schemes is to deal with complaints made by tenants, or by landlords about agents.

They can deal with the complaint and even award compensation up to £25,000.

Do you have adequate home insurance?

If you're renting, make sure you put adequate content insurance in place - something Saga Home Insurance will be happy to help you organise.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.