If you're renting a property, then it always pays to take time to do some research. Sometimes you have to move quickly – but most of the time you can afford to think about what you really want before you start pounding the pavements.
Here’s our 15-point guide to set you on your way:
1. Be clear about what you’re looking for – Flat or house? How much can you afford? Do you need to be a particular area? Do you need parking? Is a garden a must-have? Do you have pets? What kind of amenities do you need close by... shops, train station etc?
2. Take advice – If you’re new to an area, be guided by people with local knowledge, then you can visit an Alan De Maid branch and our helpful and supportive branch staff will be happy to tell you about the area, they will also help you avoid any pitfalls.
3. Do the sums – Be absolutely sure how much you can afford to spend each month, including any up front costs such as your first month's rent and tenancy deposit. Don’t forget to include bills such as electricity, gas and Council Tax in your calculations.
4. Take notes – You’ll be surprised how hard it is to remember details when you’re looking at lots of properties. Don’t be afraid to take photos to jog your memory.
5. Be persistent – Finding the right property to rent can take time, so try not to get disheartened.
6. Understand your requirements – There’s nothing worse than agreeing to rent somewhere and then finding out that your favourite piece of furniture won’t go up the stairs, so think carefully about what’s really important to you.
7. Be clear from the start – If you have any special requests or needs, make sure you let us know about them at the start of your search.
8. Don’t overstretch yourself – Try not to do too many viewings in a day or you’ll forget what the earlier properties were like.
9. Get off on the right foot – The tenant market is very competitive, there can be up to five tenants interested in the property you are viewing. We will have the trust of the landlord and you will want us to recommend you.
10. Always give good feedback – The more you tell the letting agent about your likes and dislikes, the better they can be at showing you the right types of property.
11. Be honest – Don’t say you can afford somewhere if you can’t as the chances are the credit checks will uncover the fact and you’ll be back to square one. If you have any anxieties about this, speak to your letting agent, they will have your interests at heart.
12. Be realistic – By all means make an offer below the asking price if you want to, but don’t be surprised if someone bids higher than you and snatches the property from under your nose.
13. Be flexible – If your employment status isn’t straightforward, look at options such as up-front payments, extra referees or a UK-based ‘guarantor’. Again, if this is worrying you, discuss it with the letting agent.
14. Be ready to commit – Getting all your financial affairs in order ahead of time means you’ll be able to make a quick decision when you find the right property. Being decisive can be important.
15. Be prepared – If you do fall in love with a place and want to secure it quickly, it helps to have all the necessary documents such as passports and bank statements ready in advance. It’s especially important to have your holding deposit in place.
I’ve found a property... what next?
Once you’ve found the property you want to rent, had your offer accepted and paid your holding deposit. Now we can will get the ball rolling on the formalities. There are a number of key stages along the rental journey:
Tenant references and credit checks
Your tenancy will only go ahead if your references and credit checks stand up. Make sure that your referees are aware that we will be contacting them, and ask them to respond promptly. If they don’t, it could delay the start of your tenancy.
The tenants deposit protection scheme
The standard security deposit you’ll be asked to pay is usually the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. Alan de Maid will hold this deposit in a special account called a deposit protection scheme. We will be happy to discuss this further with you if you have any questions. This deposit is released at the end of the tenancy minus any deductions for damage. By law this money belongs to you so any deductions will have to be agreed with you first. In the unlikely event of a dispute, there is a clear process which must be followed.
The tenancy agreement
Alan de Maid will draw up a contract (tenancy agreement) for both parties to sign. It will be for a set period of time and will contain conditions designed to protect both you and the landlord. Any additional agreements made during the negotiations will be included at this stage. If you are renting with friends anyone over the age of 18 will have to sign the lease – and you will all be responsible for the rent and the condition of the property. It’s really important that you read the tenancy contract thoroughly and check with us, or a solicitor, if there’s anything at all that you don’t understand. Remember, nothing is completed until the tenancy contract is signed and any funds have been paid in.
It is often helpful to have a checklist of the people you need to inform when you move into a new property. These include:
• Utility companies (gas, electric, water, telephone, internet)
• Your contents insurance
• Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA)
• Your local council tax office.
On the day you move you will be checked in by an independent inventory clerk who will carry out a property report. This will document the contents of the property and its overall condition. This report, which will be sent to you once you’ve moved in, will be used to calculate any deductions from your deposit when you move out. Such deductions only apply to damage that you have caused. You should read the report carefully before singing it and returning it to Alan de Maid.
We use a specialist third party company to oversee the whole check-in and check-out process. We find it provides clients with piece of mind of knowing that, in the event of a dispute or disagreement, there’s always a professional paper trail to fall back on. Once everything has been completed and all monies paid in, you will receive the keys to your new home. Remember, you’re not moving into a hotel and some things may not be perfect straight away. We recommend that you take some time to settle in before reporting any problems to us or landlord.
Living in your new home
Living in a rented property shouldn’t be any different than if it was your own home. You should treat the property with respect and ensure your rent is paid in full and on the agreed date. Take note of the terms of your tenancy contract. If you’re in a leasehold property, there may be conditions relating to the head lease, which is the lease between your landlord (who is the leaseholder) and the freeholder. Remember, it's up to you to keep the property in good condition. This means that many simple maintenance jobs are down to you, rather than your landlord. For more information see our tenants’ maintenance guide. In the event of any problems with the rent or with maintenance, or if you have any queries, please raise them with your letting agent. Keeping communications open at all times makes life easier for everyone.
The landlord has certain responsibilities to safeguard your welfare and safety and this includes the maintenance of the electrics, gas and water supply as well as any maintenance to ensure fire safety. Should you need to have anything repaired, it is important to let Alan De Maid know straight away; if this repair relates to the electrics, gas or water supply please do not try and handle yourself, this could mean you become liable for the issue. A landlord needs to give you 24 hours’ notice before visiting your rented home to conduct repairs (unless it is an emergency and there is a possible danger to you).
Leaving the property
If you decide you want to move out, you must contact your letting agent to discuss how much notice you need to give. You might start looking for another property to rent but remember, the landlord will also be looking for another tenant. It’s your responsibility to keep the property presentable and allow the agent access to conduct viewings. When you check out at the end of your tenancy, the report you signed when you moved in will be used to check if there has been any damage to the property. If there are any issues that could affect the return of your deposit, you will be informed in writing. Usually these can be addressed through discussion and negotiation, but in the event of a dispute you must follow the process set out in your tenancy deposit protection scheme. If the property is managed Alan de Maid will handle the check-out, including the deposit negotiations and returning of the keys.