With the new academic year approaching, many students will become private rental tenants for the first time. Taking this into account, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has provided a number of helpful tips designed to protect them from problems throughout their tenancy.
Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the NLA, acknowledges: “Entering the lettings market can be daunting, particularly for those renting for the first time.”
She empathizes with students, stating: “As a student landlord myself, I am aware of the common problems and pitfalls experienced by first time tenants.”
Uphill believes: “To ensure things go smoothly, it is essential that tenants are up-to-date with their rights and responsibilities.”
She goes on: “To help tenants on their way to a successful tenancy, we have compiled some top tips.”
Ten top tips
The NLA’s top ten tips are outlined below:
- Always ask if the property provider, whether it be a private landlord, letting agent, or university accommodation office is a member of any professional organisation, such as the NLA.
- When a certain property has been decided upon, enquire if there are any additional fees to pay, such as reference or check-in charges. In particular, this should be questioned if tenants are using a letting agent.
- Ensure that there is an up-to-date gas safety certificate for the property. By law, all gas appliances must be checked by a registered Gas Safe engineer every 12 months.
- Thoroughly read through the property’s Energy Performance Certificate. Once again, the provision of this certificate from a landlord or letting agent is a legal requirement. By looking at this document, tenants should be able to roughly gauge the heating costs for the property.
- Think about the cost of renting the property as a whole. Energy efficient properties should have low gas and electric costs. If energy bills are large, it is worth suggesting some efficiency measures to the landlord, to assist with bills in the long run.
Advice to First Time Tenants
- Before handing over any money, check over any inventory provided by the property owner. All inventories should include a detailed and fair description of all fittings and furniture. Any issues, such as marks or stains, that are not highlighted should be taken up with the property provider to ensure future blame is not attributed to the tenant.
- Once a deposit has been paid, tenants should find out which tenancy deposit scheme the landlord has used to protect their money. It is a legal requirement for landlords to protect deposits in a Government-approved tenancy deposit scheme. In addition, landlords should provide proof, known as the Prescribed Information, within 30 days of the beginning of the tenancy agreement.
- When settled in, report any damages, accidents or breakages to the landlord as soon as possible. This will prevent the situation becoming any worse.
- At the end of the tenancy, make sure that the property is in the same condition as when the agreement began. The property should be left clean, tidy and with all waste cleared. If this is not the case, then tenants face having deductions taken from their deposit.
- Last but by no means least, as obvious as it sounds, tenants should thoroughly read through the contract and make sure they know exactly what they are signing up for.