The Lettings team at Livingroom have put their heads together to share their advice and many years of experience and offer a summary of what you need to know before you sign your first residential tenancy agreement.
Renting, especially for the first time, can be a daunting process. Having a professional and friendly agent involved from the outset will make all the difference between a stress-free move and what could possibly be a headache.
An agent will apply their knowledge of the market and experience in property searching and customer care to your case – helping you to work out what it is that you’re looking for and showing you the right kind of properties.
As a tenant, it doesn’t cost you anything to have an agent involved in the process.
The finder’s fee (or management fee in some cases where an agent manages the property on behalf of a landlord) is the landlord’s costs and not passed onto the tenant.
So, the real question is why wouldn’t you have a helpful and friendly agent involved?
Many first-time tenants worry that because they cannot prove a rental history, they will not be able to rent a property, leading to a catch-22-type situation. Fortunately, every tenant has been a first-time renter at some point and there are a number of things you can do to strengthen your application. A landlord will be mainly concerned with an applicant's capacity to pay the rent, as well as their ability to take care of the property and comply with the terms and conditions of the lease. The information you supply will vary depending on your previous circumstances, for example, if you were previously living in student accommodation, you may wish to provide the details of the person who was in charge of managing the accommodation. And if you are currently living with your parents, you will require personal references. In some situations, you may choose to have a parent guarantor your lease with you. Examples of documentation you can provide that will help the landlord make a decision in your favour include:
Talk to your Livingroom agent about what is required to apply for the lease and what will strengthen your application.
The following items are required to be given to you at the time of sign-up:
A lease is a legally binding written contract between you, as a tenant or resident, and a property landlord. This document should be given to the tenant before paying any money or being committed to the tenancy. Make sure you read it carefully and ask any questions. What goes into the lease?
· The name and address of the tenant and the property manager/owner.
· The dates when the agreement starts and ends (or state that the agreement is periodic).
· Details about how the tenant should pay the rent and how much rent is to be paid.
· Details about what the tenant and the property manager/owner can and cannot do, known as 'standard terms'.
· Any special terms (these should be agreed in advance, e.g. that dogs are allowed but must be kept outside or carpet cleaning must be completed).
· The length and type of tenancy - either a fixed-term agreement where the tenant agrees to rent the property for a fixed term such as 6,9,12 months or a periodic agreement when a tenant/resident lives there for an indefinite period.
A deposit is a one-off payment that is separate to the rental payments. It is money that acts as security for the landlord or owner in case you don't meet the terms of your lease agreement. At the end of your agreement, if the property is in need of cleaning or repairs or if items need to be replaced, the landlord or owner may claim part or all of the deposit to cover these costs. As the deposit is a separate payment to the rent it cannot be used as rent – so, when you are moving out, you cannot ask the landlord to keep your deposit as final rent payment.
Your landlord or management agent may carry out a periodic inspection of the property to ensure it is being well cared for and to check if any routine repairs are needed. This inspection may include the following:
· The property is being maintained in a clean and tidy condition.
· The grounds are being maintained in a clean and tidy condition.
· The property is not being damaged in any way.
· There are no more than the number of people specified on the tenancy agreement living at the property.
· No pets are housed at the property, unless otherwise agreed to.
· Any maintenance issues identified can be attended to.