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Guest Post: New tenant checklist: 6 things a flat hunter should never forget

David Boyd Oct 8, 2013, 14:14 PM

Guest Post from the

Flat hunting is not easy, especially when you are looking to rent. That is what an increasing number of Brits find themselves doing, though, as the UK housing market turns a wave of would-be house buyers into members of Generation Rent.

As tenant numbers increase, the battle for a low supply of properties is fierce, pushing rents higher – and encouraging more landlords to enter the market. Indeed, buy-to-let lending soared 29 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, reaching a total of £5 billion.

With more landlords, though, comes a higher number of those breaking the rules. The UK government has announced a £3 million fund this year to tackle rogue landlords who leave their tenants facing poor living conditions. Higher costs? Stronger competition? Greater potential risks? It is more important than ever to be careful when finding your perfect new pad.

One of the leading providers of overseas and UK investment property provides a guide to six vital things a flat hunter should never forget, as they deal with thousands of investors that aim to successfully rent their properties out once purchased.

This is your essential new tenant checklist:

  1. Check your letting agent / landlord

Rogue letting agents and landlords are an increasing problem for tenants in the UK: the OFT received 4,000 complaints last year, while The Ombudsman received 8,000. While only affecting a minority of tenancies, it is important to be vigilant when selecting your landlord or letting agent: see if they are a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents or the National Landlords Association. How long have they been in business?

  1. Check your flatmate

As well as who you are letting your property from, be sure to consider who you are letting your property with. Will you be able to live comfortable with them? Are they reliable enough to pay their rent on time? If you are all signing the same tenancy agreement, you agree to share their responsibility for paying the monthly fee, as well as any other damage costs. Flat-sharing with strangers is an increasingly common option for those hunting for a home on their own, particularly with the rise of online property sites. Trust is key.

  1. Check yourself

Of course, all of this vetting swings both ways: while you are doing background research into your flatmates or letting agent, your future landlord will want to know all about you to ensure their rental income is reliable. References from previous landlords and proof of your identity will go a long way to helping you beat others to your dream rented home.

  1. Protect your deposit

Deposits have attracted much debate in recent years. Under current regulations (the Tenancy Deposit Protection), your landlord must place your deposit in one of several government-backed schemes, which can be viewed here. This must be done within 30 days of receiving the money and information about where it is should be passed on to you: make sure that it is.

  1. Examine the property carefully

An inventory sounds boring, but it is possibly the most important step in securing a tenancy. It officially records the state of the property and its contents, setting out clearly the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant and ensuring that you are not charged for any pre-existing damage. This is also an ideal chance to check the property is in a liveable condition and raise any maintenance issues. This inventory will be checked again at the end of your tenancy, so be as thorough as possible.

  1. Sign your tenancy agreement... slowly

Once you have checked all of the above carefully, you can sign your tenancy agreement with confidence. Try not to rush, though, and read everything through: this document will dictate any additional fees, such as administration charges, that your letting agent may introduce.

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