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!
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)
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.