Renting a property is a lot like buying one and many people will rent for some time as a precursor to buying their own home. Although many rental agreements are short-lived, they should not be entered into lightly.
That’s why Black Brick’s Rental Property Search service asks all the necessary questions to find you a home that fits – no matter how long you intend to stay there.
We go beyond the basics like location, condition and price, to make sure you are fully informed about all of the key characteristics before you commit to pay a deposit and sign your tenancy agreement.
In this Buyers’ Guide, we look at some of the questions rental property tenants – the ‘buyers’ in this relationship – should ask before signing a legally binding contract.
Rental agreements can last for any length of time. Short lets start from just a few weeks or months and generally include anything up to a six-month commitment. Long lets are six months and over, and may ultimately convert into ongoing rolling tenancies.
Knowing how long you want to rent for is one of the fundamental criteria of rental property decision-making, but also helps to ensure that you don’t have to leave a home you love because your tenancy agreement has expired.
What if you want to move out before the full term of your tenancy is up? Some leases include a ‘break clause’, usually at the 6-month mark in a 12-month tenancy. If you want to be able to leave early, make sure there is a break clause in your contract.
This can be useful if, for example, you are renting while looking for the perfect permanent home to buy. It’s negotiable, so ask your landlord upfront if you want more flexibility, but also be aware that this could put you at a disadvantage in a competitive rental market as your landlord may be more likely to choose a tenant who offers the most security.
Long-term lets are more likely to come unfurnished, as tenants often want the option to furnish their long-term home to their own tastes. This is not always the case though, and fully furnished long leases are available, as well as semi-furnished properties which contain (for example) carpets, curtains and whatever else the landlord chooses to provide.
Short-term lets are usually fully furnished, as tenants don’t usually stay for long enough to furnish the space themselves. Always check the inventory and document the condition of any fixtures, fittings and appliances, so there are no disputes over deposits when you move out.
Managed properties are often preferable for tenants as there’s a dedicated agent to contact if an appliance breaks, a pipe leaks or another such issue arises. Always look for a reputable managing agent with good ratings from past tenants.
If the property is not managed, then look for assurances that the landlord responds promptly to any issues, and make sure you have contact details in case of an emergency.
Never assume pets are allowed in a rental property and don’t try to hide them – it’s always best to be honest and check upfront, even if it means paying a slightly higher security deposit in case of any pet-related damage.
Moving in with a pet without permission puts you and your landlord in a difficult position. You may be forced to choose between your pet and your home, and you may be in breach of contract if you knowingly take a pet into a property after signing a ‘no animals’ tenancy agreement.
There are reasons why you might be forced to sign a rental agreement ‘sight unseen’ but in general, if it’s at all possible to do so, you should inspect the property before signing anything legally binding.
Even if the property doesn’t meet your expectations, once you’ve signed a 12-month lease you may be legally liable for the full year’s rent if you change your mind and cancel moving in.
Before committing to a tenancy agreement, landlords may want to confirm who you are and some evidence that you will keep up with your rent payments.
Some documents you might be asked to provide include:
In general, you should be prepared to supply proof of ID, proof of income (e.g. a pay cheque or bank statements) and third-party references (e.g. a former landlord). It’s also a legal requirement for landlords to check that tenants have the right to rent a property in the UK. More information on what you can expect to be asked for before renting a property can be found here.
Some documents are a legal requirement for your landlord to provide, while others are optional.
Mandatory documents include:
Your landlord or letting agent should also provide you with the current version of the UK government’s How to Rent Checklist and details of the Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) escrow scheme they will be using.
Regardless of all of the above, you need to get your timing right. Start your search too early and your dream property will be snapped up before you are ready to move. Wait too late and you might struggle to find somewhere suitable in time.
A good rule of thumb is to look for a rental property 2-3 months before you plan to move in. If possible, have an extra month’s rent available to put down as a holding deposit, to secure a vacant property until you are ready to move in.
Black Brick are committed to finding a rental property that suits your criteria, so we’ll ask you all of the above and more if it helps us to do that. We take time getting to know you and your circumstances, including factors such as schools, commutes to work and access to the things that matter most to you whether that be a great restaurant, gym or park.
We also oversee the negotiation of your tenancy agreement and rent, ensuring that you end up with a tenancy – and a home – that more than meets your needs.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.