Now You’re a Tenant, What to Expect

Published: 26/03/2019 By Peter Barry

The most common type of tenancy is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). This will give you some important rights but also additional responsibility which you must respect to ensure a good relationship with your landlord and hopefully a long and happy stay in your new home. Listed below are some pointers to keep you on the right track: -

  • AST, read it fully before signing. This is a legal contract between you and your landlord so it’s good to be clear as to what is expected from both parties from the start.
  • If a landlord has inserted rules within the AST regarding their wish not to have children, pets or smokers in the property, it is as well to abide by such rules. It may seem kindly to offer to care for your mother’s yappy dog whilst she takes a three-week cruise, however you will be in breach of contract and this could set you up on a less than pleasant path of disputes with your landlord.
  • Bills; check who is responsible for all the bills. Usually it will be the tenant, however on some occasions the landlord may pay the bills.
  • Fixtures & fittings. Check with your landlord if you want to remove items from the property or add items which require securing them to the wall or altering the property in some way. On a regular property inspection, the landlord may be less than impressed if you’ve decided to pull up the fitted carpet, so you can enjoy the more rustic look of exposed floorboards.
  • Expect a ‘check in’ report or inventory. This is the bar to which the landlord will expect you to leave the property at the end of the tenancy. If you disagree with any aspect of the inventory, take photos and make the landlord aware immediately.
  • Take meter readings, you don’t want to be charged for the previous tenant’s expenses.
  • In the event of an emergency you will need to speak to the landlord or, if the property is managed, the letting agent. Keep the contact numbers somewhere easily accessed. If you have a mobile phone add the number to your contacts or take a photo of the list so it’s always handy.
  • At the start of the tenancy you should receive a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate (if relevant) as well as an Energy Performance Certificate.
  • Once your tenancy starts, you should receive details of where your deposit has been placed. Under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 every landlord or letting agency that takes a deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in England and Wales must join a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDP). The new regulations came into effect on April 6, 2007. If after the initial month of being in your new home, you haven’t received details of where your deposit it protected feel free to contact your landlord or letting agent to request the details. This is an important detail and helps to protect your deposit from unscrupulous landlords.
  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors need to be installed if you have solid fuel appliances. This is important so do request they are installed and remember to test them regularly to ensure they are in working order.
  • Care for the property, keep it clean and report any maintenance issues as soon as you notice them, don’t let a small leak in the bathroom escalate to such a problem that the landlord needs to redecorate the whole room before you decide to mention it.
  • Be considerate towards the neighbours, don’t take in lodgers and most importantly pay your rent promptly.
  • If you decide you would like to stay on beyond your tenancy end date contact the landlord approximately two months before this date to request renewing your contract. If you choose to move on, you must also give the landlord fair notice.
  • To ensure you get your deposit paid back in full at the end of the tenancy, return the property in the same condition as you received it. It should be clean; well maintained and do not leave your unwanted furniture or belongings in the property for the landlord to dispose of. Check that your rent is paid in full as well as any outstanding bills. Remember these are your responsibilities, you will not want a bad credit rating due to outstanding final bills.

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