Tenant Checklist BEFORE Signing A Tenancy Agreement

What A Tenant Should Check Before Signing A Tenancy Agreement With the nation fearing a property crash, and with mortgage rates increasing, renting has never been so popular. That means more and more tenants are open to attack, to walk blindly into tenancy agreements that won’t always serve their best interest.

Below is a checklist of things a tenant should check before agreeing to any tenancy agreement. The list is subjective, and I’m sure there are other requirements, you as a tenant, may want to satisfy your personal satisfaction. However, the list is pretty solid and covers a broad area which should keep the average tenant at ease (providing the majority of the boxes are ticked). If you can think of anything else, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Deposit Protection Scheme

Every landlord in England & Wales is legally obligated to secure any deposit taken into a tenancy deposit scheme. Any landlord that isn’t aware of the legislation, let alone comply, is a ticking time-bomb.

If your prospective landlord doesn’t mention the deposit scheme before signing the contract, make sure you enquire about it!

Gas safety certificate

Again, by law this required.

A Gas Safe registered Engineer needs to provide a Gas Safety Certificate proving that the necessary safety checks have been performed, with all gas appliances passing the test to a satisfactory level.

Make sure you see a valid copy!

Landlord Content Insurance

Enquire whether the rent covers content insurance or whether you, as the tenant, are responsible for your own personal belongings in case of a fire. Most landlords won’t cover content, but it’s best to find out. Obviously it’s all the better for you if your landlord is paying for your content insurance, which means you won’t have to.

Bills, bills, bills- who’s responsible?

Ensure that the tenancy agreement stipulates who is responsible for all bills – not just the obvious ones like gas and electricity, but, for example, ground rent if the owner is a leaseholder, and council tax.

If you don’t calculate your exact costs before signing a contract, you could be paying a lot more than you initially anticipated.

Right Of Entry

Find out under what circumstances the landlord can enter the property. Tenant’s have a statutory right to what is known as quiet enjoyment, which essentially means a landlord or an agent cannot enter without permission, and needs to give 24 hours written notice if they wish to enter. However, most tenancy agreements do have clauses which cover “rights of entry”, so check them out!

Financial Arrangements

Kind of a no-brainer, but make sure arrangements for paying the rent are clearly and strictly highlighted in the agreement. Of course, this is probably the main issue on both the tenant’s and landlord’s mind. But it’s amazing how many tenant/landlord relationships turn sour over payment issues.

Strictly no access

Be aware of what you are actually paying for. Some landlords have the right to only grant you access to specific parts of the house to the tenant. For example, the tenancy agreement could stipulate that you can rent the entire house, besides from the master bedroom. In theory, this may make you a lodger, as opposed to a tenant.

Parking Space

Find out what the arrangement is for parking spaces. Does the property come with allocated parking spaces? Is a residents permit required- would you be eligible for one? If so, how much will it cost?

Pets

What’s the situation with pets? One of my current tenant’s didn’t have a pet when she moved in, but adopted a random puppy half way through her tenancy agreement. Fortunately for her, I’m one nice son-of-a-bitch, so I granted her the rights to provide shelter to the mutt, so it was all cool. However, your landlord may not be pet-friendly.

What’s your rights on the whole pet thing? Maybe you’ll unexpectedly have to provide shelter to an iguana or something. Find out.

Household Appliances

Make sure every appliance that comes with the property actually works, especially any major appliances that uses hot water and gas. Check if the toilet flash works properly and if hot water pours from the taps.

Furnishing

Will the property be furnished or unfurnished? Remember, what you see during a viewing might not necessarily be what you’ll be getting when you move in. It’s not uncommon for landlords to stage their properties so it looks more appealing to potential tenants. Bear in mind that if the property isn’t furnished, you may have to dig deep and splash out on furnishing.

Working doors and windows

Investigate whether all the doors and windows close properly and have seals that keep the rain out. Remember, all your valuables will be stored in this place, so security should be a big concern of yours.

Mobile phone signal

This may not seem important to anyone else, but as a tenant, this would play a major factor on my checklist. Find out if you can get signal on your mobile phone in the property. I don’t know about anyone else, but my phone is my life, without it is like…God, I don’t even want to think about it, or conjure up a clever metaphor, because I know my metaphor wouldn’t even be able to articulate the tragic affair my life would be without a working mobile phone.

Written agreement

Ideally, all the issues mentioned above (or the rules that suit you and the landlord best) should be written in the tenancy agreement, just so there is no confusion. It’s amazing how confusing landlord Vs tenant debates can get just because no one could be bothered to finalise the details on paper, and settled for a verbal tenancy agreement.

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23 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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online estate agent 30th April, 2008 @ 08:40

Very interesting post

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Mike - Big Yellow 5th December, 2008 @ 11:55

Great article. It's interesting you mention personal storage when renting.

Lack of storage is a problem that most of us are facing and since I have been working at Big Yellow, I see how much this problem effects people in different ways in their everyday life.

If you’d like to discuss this further then don’t hesitate to drop me an email, and in the meantime you can check out our website for alternative storage options at bigyellow.co.uk

Cheers,
Mike

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Janet Bridgwater 7th December, 2009 @ 15:26

Excellent article, great tips thanks,

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jennifer 11th January, 2010 @ 23:40

My tenancy is due to expire in march, I have just receive a letter from the agent that I got the property from that I need to pay £88.14 to renew my agreement. This is more than 10% of my monthly rent. Am I supposed to pay this amount as I was not told prior to letting this property that I will incur this fee for every year to renew the agreement. This is just free money as far as am concern as there is nothing new in the agreement.
Also, when I moved in, they charged me £100 for moving in, they did not even meet me at the property with the key. All they did was take inventory and sent it to me. What a rip-off!!! What shoulod I do? I want to continue my tenancy at the property> Thanks

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clarky 28th February, 2010 @ 23:36

hia,is it illegal for a landlord to not had a epc also pat test certificate, when a tenant moves into property with toddler,are landlords to fix holes in doors, windows old dated and lost putty replaced with silicone which is litterally hanging down can i request them fixed. many thanks for any reply.

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clarky 1st March, 2010 @ 19:24

been told outdoor aeriel my responsablity.only rentng its there property,six months tenancy agreement..is this right dont think so..

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jools 2nd March, 2010 @ 14:29

@Clarky; Yes it is illegal for a landlord not to have an EPC certificate in England and Wales. Can't remember the exact date but early 2008 rings a bell. Unless HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) PAT test not mandatory but ALL supplied equipment must be compliant and safe. IE ALL 13amp plugs must be of the new type that has a black insulator on the live and neutral terminals to prevent little (and not so little) fingers from accessing the live parts if the plug is only partly plugged in. When I say ALL plugs I mean ALL plugs - every songle last one of the little buggers!

Re aeriel - you need to read your AST. It's probably in there that the aerial IS your responsibility but it does differ from Landlord to Landlord.

Hope this helps

Jools

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jools 5th March, 2010 @ 21:53

many thanks for the reply, i think this site is great and some very good issues, youve been very helpful. thanks again

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clarky 5th March, 2010 @ 21:55

sorry jools message above meant for you....thanks

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clarky 6th March, 2010 @ 13:10

moved in flat for 1 day. all payments made and agreement signed. work needed doing on flat, requested thet move out and requested key to be handed over, its been over a week and i need to show a benefit agency that i live there to aquire some furniture, i have asked for the key and been told work men still have it. CAN I DEMAND KEY or do i require a solicitor.i cant see that we have done anything wrong only pointing out some electrics wasnt working. please help as solicitors fees are way above my means.

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jools 6th March, 2010 @ 13:21

Hey Clarky,

Is is a private landlord or housing assoc?

technically all the work should have been completed before you moved in! If you signed an AST it is now your house and they cannot demand anything especially the key - technically they seem to have evicted you! Are they supplying accomodation whilst the work is being carried out?

Jools

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clarky 6th March, 2010 @ 14:01

hia, no its private. i know them which is makin things worse.im back with my mum,what do i do

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clarky 6th March, 2010 @ 14:14

im claiming housing benefit and worrying im in the wrong now. mums upset and doing all the running round as i feel they are against me and just want me out or if i ever do get keys theyll ask me to leave in the six months and thatl mean my son is being shunted about.the problem started when some electrics wasnt working as i wrote,mum asked them if they had an epc cert or even had the electrics checked before i moved in,then everything became an issue, mums looking in my intersts but caused all this, but she says they should have checked all the safety for my son at least. i just want my flat.

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Jo B 11th April, 2010 @ 12:23

Can someone pls advise if both the landlord and the tenant have to sign the SAME AST? At the agency I used they provided 2 AST's exactly the same but I signed one and the landlord was asked to sign the other. Should we not have signed both?

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maddy.17 23rd November, 2010 @ 14:23

Hi can anyone help have just moved out of a property privately rented from family and they are now saying it was our responsibility to have the carpets and curtains professionally cleaned and is trying to charge us for this, I did wash the curtains myself and used my vax cleaner on the carpets. She is also asking for money for decorating, but the only room that needed this was the living room and she had called me on my mobile and told me not to bother about the decorating as they were having it done professionally can you tell me where I stand.

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Matthew Bond 26th January, 2011 @ 16:25

Hi, I live on Northern Ireland & have been renting a house for 18 months now. I have never received an EPC or gas cert. Am I legally obliged to break my agreement because of this? I have 6 months left on this agreement. Thanks

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stevieg 10th February, 2012 @ 18:47

I have just lived in the property i rent for five and a half years i have always paid the rent on time got on well with my neighbours and generally been a nice tennent.About three and a half years ago my landlord decided to put the rent up to £800.00 per month for a one bedroomed basement flat on hove seafront.I said i would have to see some improvements like new carpets(the current ones have been down at least 15years cheap no underlay type)also i asked for the boiler to be replaced as it breaks down regularly always in the coldest months and a tv ariel point so i could watch tv.He agreed to all this so i paid the increase.Recently southern water told me i had a major leak somewhere which when traced was found to be the pipes under the bath.This culminated in me getting a waterbill for one year of £657.11.When i told the landlord he said i dont pay no bills for any of my properties,when i pointed out he was responsible for mechanical and i would have to seek redress through the courts unless he reimbursed me he promptly issued me with a section 21a notice to quit. Since then his wife has been harrassing my partner as i have refused to move out.Im a builder by trade and have made many improvements to the property free of charge and maintained the property for him at no cost to him.Iv'e also had no gas safety cert for 4years now.My question is should i employ a solicitor to appear for me in court or will i be able to present the case myself?

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Benji 10th February, 2012 @ 22:36

Stevieg,
A section 21 notice is a 'no fault notice'. IF it has been served correctly there is no defence.
You might have a separate case for the other issues but it wont stop your eviction.

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stevieg 11th February, 2012 @ 11:45

Thanks for that Benji the full title of my section is 21(4a)i believe it to be incorrectly dated as my landlords are saying the tenancy was created on the 3rd of july 2006 but i have no tenancy agreement nor have i ever signed anything.I began redecorating the property i live in for them on the 3rd of july 2006 but didn't move in till the 11th of july 2006 and have 5years seven months of cheque book stubs and bank statements to prove the rent has always been paid on the 11th of the month. The section 21(4a) notice to quit ended on the 2nd of january 2012 but the landlords already had accepted payment until the 10th of january 2012.Being as they have a seven hundred pounds bond i am unlikely to see,i have since that point being paying my rent into a suspense account.

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Jeremy 11th February, 2012 @ 12:08

Hello Stevieg,

In lieu of a written rent agreement: If there are discrepencies between your payment dates and moving out dates, then I beleive this notice is invalid. The landlord needs to issue a new notice with two months minimum notice and quiting the right day of the month on which the tenancy will end.

But there is something in your story which makes no sense to me. If you're in a flat your household can't be too big, two or three people, maximum. So your water bill must be about £250 annually. So £450, or nearly two years amount of water usage escaped through pipes under the bath. How come it went unnoticed? There must have been sound, smell, damp, mould arising from such a large volume of water ingress?

Lastly, as your landlord may have to accept you're legally entitled to stay there for another two-ish months, is there anything you can do to build bridges. Can you persuade the landlord they'll need to to this maintenance whatever their future plans for teh flat and why don't they do it with a good tenant in situ, so they don't get an interruption to their income.

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Charlotte 20th April, 2012 @ 21:17

Im wanting to rent a house, it states all of house to be rented, but access not given to a 2nd lounge and conservatory. they have belonging stored in there that look very expensive. i really want the house, but it is very expensive not to have the whole house. where would i stand with contents insurance, fire hazards and emergency access as there is also a door leading to and from the conservatory.. can i ask for a discount, or shall i just forget it?? any offers on help.

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PaxListings 21st February, 2014 @ 07:39

Great Insight for tenants while signing a lease agreement.

It is not only the landlord that need to check you but tenants also check the few thing while signing a lease agreement such as landlord reputation, neighbors, amenities, noise level of the area,pet policy,security.

Never try to sign a lease until you find all of above things.

Thanks

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Janessa5049 8th December, 2014 @ 13:56

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