Tenant Checklist BEFORE Signing A Tenancy Agreement

Tenant Checklist BEFORE Signing A Tenancy Agreement

One thing this blog is certainly not deprived of is comments left by bewildered tenants – scratching their asses – wondering how they’ve managed to find themselves tangled with in the grips of a dog-turd tenancy.

Why are tenants finding themselves in that position? 99.99999% of the times it’s because they didn’t do their due diligence, and they blindly signed away their life.

So let’s run through a list of things all tenant’s should check before signing a tenancy agreement, to help with the damage control.

Reference your landlord (if you’re dealing directly with a landlord)

One of the biggest complaints received on here from tenants is related to dealing with an asshole landlord.

The best way to avoid an unreasonable landlord is by referencing your prospective landlord. That can include:

  • Asking for references from previous tenants
  • Checking the landlord’s ID
  • Checking land registry papers to ensure they own the property

Research your letting agent (if you’re dealing with a letting agent)

Research your letting agent, and don’t just use your local agent because they’re the closest to your doorstep. Lazy git!

Here’s a guide on how to find a good letting agent.

Bills, bills, bills- who’s responsible?

Ensure you’re clear from the offset what bills you’re responsible for. Moreover, the tenancy agreement should clearly stipulate who is responsible for what bills, which includes:

  • Council tax
  • Utility (e.g. water, electricity, gas etc)
  • Internet / Broadband
  • Ground rent (if applicable)

Utility suppliers

Find out who currently supplies the utility services, particularly the electricity, gas and broadband. You can then go away and research the tariffs available and how much the services will cost you.

Calculate your costs

After determining what bills you’re responsible for, and how much your rent will be, calculate what all your costs will be each month.

Assess whether you can afford the property or not.

Generally speaking, it is recommended for living expenses not to consume more than approx 35% of your salary.

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?


Most landlords will advertise whether they’re pet-friendly or not.

However, if it’s not mentioned, and if you have a pet or plan on getting one in the future, it’s best to find out.

One of my current tenant’s didn’t have a pet when she moved in, but adopted a random puppy half way through the tenancy.

Fortunately for her, I’m one nice son-of-a-bitch, so I granted her the rights to provide shelter to the adorable fluff-ball, so it was all cool. However, your landlord may not be pet-friendly.


Ensure your agent/landlord intends on conducting a thorough inventory on move-in day while you’re present, and before you move in any of your own personal possessions and furniture.

The inventory should include:

  • Photos
  • Details of any pre-existing damages and scuffs
  • Itemised list of all items that come with the property, including appliances, smoke alarms and white goods, and confirmation that they’re all in safe working order

Plumbing & Heating

Check all the taps, toilet flushes and radiators are in working order! Check for leaks and dampness, too.

For one reason or another, mould seems to be a terribly common issue with rental properties.

You should not be signing a tenancy agreement or paying a deposit unless everything is in safe working order.

Gas Safety Check

Request to see a copy of the gas safety certificate!

Landlord’s are legally obligated to have a gas safety check every 12 months, so ensure the date on the certificate is current.

Every safety conscious and law abiding landlord will have one! Be wary of those that don’t.

Smoke alarms

Speaking of safety conscious landlords, ensure the property is fitted with smoke alarms on every floor.

Landlord’s in England are legally obligated to supply smoke alarms on every floor, and carbon monoxide alarms in every room containing a solid fuel burning appliance.

EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)

Landlords are legally obligated to show all prospective tenants a copy of the EPC BEFORE a tenancy agreement is signed.

Make sure you check the EPC, because it will give you a good indication of how energy efficient the property is. Obviously, the more efficient the property is, the less it will cost to run in terms of utility bills.

It’s really not uncommon for tenants to be stung by fuel bills they weren’t expecting!

Mobile phone signal

This is such a big issue for so many tenants, and it’s not surprising!

Most tenants don’t check their phone signal during a viewing, so it’s usually too late when they realise the the phone signal in their new home is virtually non-existent!

Rightly or wrongly, many of us NEED an efficient phone signal to function in today’s digital world.

Check the phone signal if it’s a high up on your priority list.

Internet / Broadband

In the same vain as requiring a ample mobile signal, many of us rely on a strong internet connection to get through a day successfully.

Surprisingly, in this day in age, a large portion of the areas in this country still have very limited internet connections.

If a fast internet connection is a must, then make sure you find out which internet service providers and speeds are available to you.

Written tenancy agreement

Request for a copy of the tenancy agreement the agent/landlord intends to use BEFORE agreeing to any deals. Take the copy home and read it properly.

If there’s anything you don’t understand or need further clarity on, make sure you ask. It’s also advisable to get their responses in writing so you have proof.

24 Join the Conversation...

Guest Avatar
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


Guest Avatar
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


Guest Avatar
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.

Guest Avatar
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?


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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

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.


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Ashar Danial 14th December, 2017 @ 12:19

Should I check EPC Certificate before signing A Tenancy Agreement. Is the EPCs important for Tenancy agreement.

Because I have read about energy saving advice. Although, I am not a landlord, what to do, should I do?

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 14th December, 2017 @ 18:39

Hi Ashar,

The landlord is legally obligated to show you the EPC before signing a tenancy agreement, so I would definitely check it before signing. If the landlord doesn't have one to show, it's a clear sign that the landlord isn't adhering to his/her legal obligations, in which case I would stay clear.

















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