How to make a good rental offer

Q. I have found a great rental property and would like to make an offer. What should I include?

A: I always recommend putting forward an offer in writing; email it to the letting agent so you have a paper trail. It should outline key information including your preferred tenancy start date, the rental amount you’re prepared to pay, any requests for the property – such as a professional clean to be carried out prior to the start of the tenancy – any furniture you’d like provided or removed, and so on.

If you want a break clause in the tenancy agreement, giving you the option to end your tenancy during the term, make sure you outline the terms very specifically. For example, if you want to be able to end at any time from six months onwards you should include that and be specific with your wording. Unless the wording is crystal clear, a six month break clause can be interpreted in different ways. One letting agent may draw up the tenancy agreement giving you the option to serve two months’ notice from four months, enabling you to move out from six months. Whereas another agent may interpret it as you being able to serve two months’ notice from six months, enabling you to move out from eight months. Also, specify whether you want a tenant only break clause which means that only you as the tenant can exercise the break clause, not the landlord.

In addition, in your offer letter confirm how long you want the tenancy agreement to run. Do you want it for 12 months only? Or do you want the option to renew for a second year or even a third year? If you do want the option to renew, specify whether you’ll pay a rent increase in years two and three. The standard is for the rent to increase in line with the Retail Price Index every year and there is often a minimum and maximum increase inserted in to the tenancy agreement. In your offer, you are able to specify that there should be no rent increase in the additional years.

The landlord may push back on some of your offer terms but if you start negotiations with a detailed offer there is less room for ambiguity and potential surprises later down the line, at which point you may have already paid a holding deposit.

Finally, once the tenancy agreement is drawn up, make sure you read it carefully before you sign. If there is any wording you don’t understand, ask the letting agent to explain it. It is a legally binding document so take it seriously.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.