First Time Renter Worries | The Tenants' Voice
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First Time Renter Worries

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last updated: 30 Jan 2017 report a problem

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Last week, Linda McKay shared a number of worries she has about renting in the forum. Particularly, Linda has been living with her parents and looking to move out. But a number of her friends have shed light on a number of issues with renting that everybody needs to understand before they rent their first property

  • Not knowing my rights as a tenant. – I know people that have had problems.
  • Budgeting and the cost of renting – It sounds expensive.
  • Losing my deposit.
  • Someone else will have access to my home.
  • Having security of a long term contract – One is only 6 months!
  • That my kids can’t be kids, as they may cause damage, but they’re not trying to!
  • Lack of control over what I can do to the home. – I’ve heard stories that I can’t hang pictures up!

Not knowing my rights as a tenant

Not knowing your rights, in general, is a problem. When renting it’s a particularly big problem, because it relates to both your home and a huge amount of your income.

However, this is the very reason that The Tenants’ Voice and other websites like Shelter and Citizen Advice exist. We provide consumer advice, information on your rights and solutions to common problems people have with renting and living in the UK.

Some weeks ago, we published the perfect starter for learning your rights and responsibilities when renting – Renting At A Glance – 5 Tenant Rights and 5 Tenant Responsibilities

It goes through the basics at first glance, but follow the links and you will uncover in-depth information that will help you solve problems on your own and stand your ground when your rights are being mistreated or violated.

You can explore our advice section to discover all our articles and guides about renting.

Budgeting and the cost of renting

Renting puts the E in expensive. Especially in London where average weekly rent for a two-bedroom property in London exceeds £500.

Data source Avg. Price Per Week Avg. Price Per Month Avg. Price Per Year
Rent Barometer £577 £2308 £30,085
London Property Watch £510 £2040 £26,591

I don’t know what your financial situation is, but based on the information PayScale below, many industries barely cut it for the annual rent.

Industry (London) Median Salary Per Annum
Financial Services £44,627
Information Technology (IT) Services £43,373
Consulting £40,359
Retail £31,644
Marketing, Advertising, Media Management £32,928
Banking £47,884
Construction £36,295

This is very crude comparison, but it proves that your rent budget will often reach and exceed 70% of your salary. You have to carefully plan your funds and estimate what is the total maximum you can afford to spend on housing. However, renting is not even the end of the story.

In that maximum rent budget you also need to accommodate:

  • Energy bills – £1,153 per annum for both (£666 p/a gass, £487 p/a electricity UK avg.) Source: OvoEnergy
  • Water and sewage – £385 per annum Source: uSwitch
  • Broadband and TV – £300-500 per annum depending on your plan
  • Council tax – varies depending on your property and location, see our article to learn how to calculate council tax.

When researching the property market, take these numbers in your head and always ask how much each of these costs when you visit properties you consider.

When you decide to move, make sure you have a starting budget of at least three times your monthly rent.

Losing my deposit

If you’ve read through your rights from the links above, you will know that the deposit you pay to your landlord has to be protected in a government-authorised scheme.

There are only three schemes in the UK and your landlord has to choose one of them to submit the money into. You can check with their online tools if your deposit is protected. Otherwise, your landlord has broken the law and you may be entitled compensation.

Upon the end of the tenancy agreement, the scheme will help return the money, or split the deposit if any deductions are due. If your deposit is protected, you will get a fair, independent judgement on disputes with your landlord.

A deposit for a two-bed property in London is upwards of  £2000 pounds. This is a substantial amount of money and you want to make sure it is protected, as you will need the money if you need to move in the future.

The Tenants’ Voice offers two PDF guides, available for free that cover:

Getting your deposit protected; Claiming compensation for unprotected deposits

Covers protecting your deposit when you first move in the propers. Will explain how the protection procedure works and what you need to check to ensure your money is properly protected in a scheme.

Getting your deposit back; Deposit disputes and using the ADR

Covers how to request your deposit when you move out of the property. What you need to do before moving to get your deposit in full and how to negotiate with the landlord over deductions. Finally, it explains the ADR procedure provided for free by the scheme where your deposit was protected.

Someone else will have access to my home

Yes, that’s true. You have to come to terms that your landlord or letting agent may need to come to the property. There are many reasons for legitimate access to your home:

  • Scheduled inspection of the property
  • Repairs and maintenance of the property
  • Property valuation (when a sale is considered)
  • Property viewings by new tenants as your move out date comes closer

Of course, every visit must be scheduled with you in advance and proper notice of minimum 24h served to the address.

Tenants have a right of quiet enjoyment. You’re entitled to reschedule when the time is inconvenient with your schedule, or when you want to be present when somebody enters the property. The landlord and letting agent and any service providers working on their behalf MAY NOT enter the property if you specifically ban their access.

However, acknowledge that using that right will cause the landlord to suffer financially, which may be transferred as a penalty to you in some form. The landlord may invoice you for the bills or discount the money from your deposit when you move out.

Furthermore, if you unreasonably deny all access to the property, the landlord may choose to evict you through the courts and this is the least favourable position for all tenants.

Read our article for more information on landlord and letting agent access rights.

Having security of a long term contract

The thing about the security of your rental home is that it’s based entirely on the good relationship between you and your landlord.

If you happen to find a great landlord and you take good care of your home and most importantly pay your rent in full, there is no reason for your relationship to continue for many years.

While it’s true that a 6month term is too short, you can easily secure your property for one year at a time. If you find the right landlord you can even sign for longer periods.

However, to effectively enforce your rights and wishes, you have to understand the basic elements of your tenancy agreement. Please check our articles:

That my kids can’t be kids, as they may cause damage

Yes, it’s true that if your kids are too wild and cause damage to the property, the repair will come out of that pocket.

Normally, your landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance in the property. That includes annual inspections and replacement when equipment and furniture break down from natural use.

However, when the property and the furnishings are not used as they should (e.g. your children jumping on the sofa everyday), it’s only fair that the tenant covers the cost of repairs or replacements.

This doesn’t just translate to your kids being kids, but you being a tenant as well. You’re responsible for daily maintenance in the property and to report all problems to your landlord as they first appear. Reporting damage late, or not at all makes you responsible to cover the cost of repairs as the condition deteriorates.

The two inventory reports, done as you move in and move out, are the most important pieces of documentation in regards to splitting the deposit when you move out. Make sure request the inventory reports and rectify any inaccuracies ASAP to prevent potential disputes when you move out.

Lack of control over what I can do to the home

The general rules of what you can do with the property will be outlined in your tenancy agreement. Make sure you read it and understand it before you sign any document.

As a tenant, you have to ask for permission to change things like the decoration, the furniture or repaint the walls. If you don’t, your landlord is entitled to ask you to restore the property’s interior to how it was on the move in inventory report.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t hang pictures. It means that if you hang pictures, you need to fix the holes in the wall, remove all the nails and paint over before you move. This is fair.

In conclusion, many of the concerns will go away when you add more experience and become more confident in renting your home. Please read through our advice section and our PDF guides. They will help you make your first steps..
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