Renting – know your rights

With the number of people in the UK in rented accommodation increasing, I’m always urging tenants to know their rights.

First and foremost, make sure any offer is confirmed in writing and sets out all the terms: the price you’re offering, the start date, the tenancy duration and any extras such as a break clause or furniture to be removed or supplied. Before you sign the tenancy agreement, double check that all requests are included within it – if they’re not included, the landlord doesn’t have to uphold them.

Before the tenancy starts, an inventory should be carried out by a professional and independent inventory clerk. This sets out the condition of the property and any furniture and other items at the start of the tenancy. It is then referenced at the end of the tenancy and any damage or missing items noted between the start and end date is deducted from your deposit, with the exception of fair wear and tear.

The cost of an inventory and drawing up a formal tenancy agreement is usually shared between the landlord and tenant. I always consider this money well spent. If you were doing a business transaction then you wouldn’t scrimp on terms and due diligence and you shouldn’t when renting either. If your landlord offers to do an inventory themselves, I always advise against it as it won’t be independent and reliable if there’s a dispute.

If you’re in a flat share, make sure that a new tenancy agreement is drawn up to reflect the change in tenants – and ensure that a new inventory is done. It adds to your costs, but if you don’t, you might find yourself paying for damage or missing items from previous tenants years ago.

Renting is a big responsibility with legal consequences, so take it seriously, or pay a reputable search agent to handle everything for you.

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