This article was written by the Great British Mag editorial team on 10 May 2020.
If you decide to rent a property in the UK either on your own or with your friends you will be asked to sign a tenancy agreement, so make sure you read this agreement carefully before you sign it and be sure to ask these six crucial questions.
Has the property had all the safety checks?
Before moving into the property check the following:
- All gas appliances in the property have been safely installed and maintained annually by a professional. The landlord should have a gas safety record to prove this so ask to see it.
- All electrical appliances in the property are in good working order and anything with bare wires should be replaced. Whilst it is not compulsory ask the landlord if they have a Portable Appliance Testing certificate.
- There is at least one smoke alarm on every floor of the building and a fire extinguisher on each floor if the building is considered as a House in Multiple Occupation (HBO), which most student accommodation is
- Any room that has a working fireplace or burning stove has a carbon monoxide detector.
When you move into the property also check who is responsible for maintaining things like the fire alarms and fire extinguishers during the tenancy.
Is the property in good repair?
Before you sign the tenancy agreement inspect the property to ensure things like the shower work and that the property isn’t in need of any maintenance or repairs, such as leaking pipes and windows that don’t close properly. Normally the landlord is responsible for maintaining and repairing the following:
- The structure of the property (the walls, roof, windows, and doors)
- Pipes and wiring
- Heating and hot water (including the boiler)
- The safety of gas and electrical appliances.
- Sinks, baths and toilets
- Damp in the property
- Problem with rat, mice other types of infestation
You are normally responsible for minor repairs such as changing light bulbs, fixing any damage you have caused before you leave the property and keeping the house in a good state.
How much is the deposit?
In the UK you will be expected to pay a deposit to cover repairs that might be needed when you leave the property, that isn’t normal wear and tear, or cover rent repayments if you leave the property without paying rent.
Legally this deposit can be no more than the equivalent of six weeks rent, and is typically five weeks. The Landlord also has to put the deposit into a government-owned deposit scheme called a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, which protects you and the landlord.
If you pay all your rent and you have not caused any damage to the property then you should get all your deposit back. If your landlord refuses to pay back the deposit you can contact the Citizens Advice for free help.
Are tenants allowed to have guests?
Your tenancy agreement may cover restrictions on having guest over and the length of time they maybe able to stay with you, so read your agreement carefully. You will also not be able to take money from someone who stays at your property. For example, you will not be able to Airbnb your room whilst you are on holiday yourself as this is called subletting.
Can the landlord evict me?
Make sure you understand under what circumstances a landlord can evict you before signing the agreement. In the UK a landlord cannot ask you to leave before the time stated in the tenancy agreement, unless you have breached the tenancy agreement.
In order to evict you they must serve you with a court order and cannot use bullying behaviour to force you to leave, such as having the gas or electricity disconnected. If this happens contact the police immediately.
During the Coronavirus pandemic the government has banned evictions across the UK. For more information contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.
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