My English Point Of View
A guidance on how to rent a flat!
It is high time for all the students to start looking for a flat -accommodation in general. I found useful to mention some significant topics before our final decision!
1. Ensure you’ve got contents cover from as soon as you move in
If you rent, your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, so you should only be getting contents cover (essentially, it’s for stuff that’d fall if you turned your home upside down).
As buildings insurance generally covers the building itself (unsurprisingly), this is usually the property owner’s responsibility. Generally, this means you’re unlikely to need building insurance if you’re renting. There may be exceptions (eg, if the contract says you need buildings insurance) – check with your landlord if unsure.
How to get the cheapest contents cover will vary depending on whether you’re housesharing or not. In a nutshell…
2. If you’re in a houseshare:
Getting cover from mainstream insurers can be tricky (a locked room helps, so ask for one). Comparison sites Confused.com*, Gocompare*, MoneySupermarket* andCompare The Market* say they provide flatshare quotes, but double-check the policy allows it – comparison sites are very flaky on this. You may find a specialist such as Home Protect* or a local broker via BIBA easier.
If you’re in a houseshare, always let your insurers know you live with others and not on your own, otherwise you could risk invalidating your insurance.
3. Check that your deposit’s protected
One in five private renters in England don’t know if their deposit is protected, according to housing charity Shelter. If this is you, check NOW.
Under the law in England and Wales, if you’ve what’s called an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ that started on or after 6 April 2007, your landlord MUST put your deposit into one of these schemes within 30 days of getting it. (An ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ is the most common type of tenancy – if you’re not a lodger or renting from a council, you’ve probably got one but you can double-check with Shelter’s tenancy checker).
If your landlord doesn’t protect your deposit, a court can order them to pay you a penalty of up to three times the deposit (though this is rare).
If your deposit is in one of these schemes, it means:
- you’ll get the full deposit back at the end of the tenancy provided you’ve met the terms of the tenancy agreement
- if you agree with your landlord how much of the deposit you’re due, it’ll be returned to you within 10 days of the tenancy ending
- if you DON’T agree with your landlord, a free dispute resolution service will investigate and decide how much of the deposit should go to you and how much to your landlord.
4. Tricks to help ensure you get your deposit back
When it comes to checking your property at the end of your stay, landlords can develop better microscopic vision than Superman, but there are ways you can improve the chances of getting your deposit back.
To help stop them zapping your deposit, here are a few tips:
- Check your contract. Dig it out and give it another read. Does it say the carpets need to be deep cleaned, or that all picture hooks need to be removed and filled in? If so, make sure these are sorted.
- Patch up any damage. Fix it properly – covering up a hole in the wall with a picture may seem like a good idea at the time, but leaving it like this when you move out is practically asking for your deposit to be docked.
- Ensure nothing’s missing or broken. Check the inventory thoroughly to make sure everything’s as it should be, and replace or fix as needed.
- Take photos as proof you’ve left it in good order. These could be useful evidence later if a dispute arises over your deposit.
- Have a proper deep clean. Get a scrupulous friend or family member to check the place over to check there’s nothing you’ve missed, and remove all rubbish. See the Save zillions on cleaning products forum thread for tips to help.
If your tenancy agreement states you must get the property professionally cleaned, you may have to provide receipts to prove you’ve done it, though whether this may be an unfair contract term is a grey area.
5. Save £100s switching energy even if you rent
If you rent, you could save £100s every year by switching. You don’t need to own the property to do it, so don’t just stick with the previous tenant’s gas or electricity firm.
Even if your tenancy agreement says you can’t switch, the energy regulator Ofgem says you shouldn’t be unreasonably prevented. The exception is if you pay via your landlord for any bills (ie, as part of the rent).
You can still compare even if you don’t have previous bills from your new digs. Just tell our Cheap Energy Club some info about the new rental, and if you’re a high, medium or low user. It’ll show the cheapest tariff for you and give up to £30 cashback.
Preventing a tenant from changing energy suppliers may be viewed as an unfair term in a tenancy agreement. Talk to Citizens Advice to see if it can help and seeRenters: You Can Switch Too for more info.
6. Grab FREE sofas, beds, TVs, fridges and more
If you’ve gone for an unfurnished or part-furnished rental, this is a handy trick to help furnish your pad for nowt. Hundreds of top-quality goodies are available daily for free.
What’s the catch? Well, there isn’t one. Instead of dumping goods or eBaying them, people harness the web’s power to offer them to their local communities. So as well as kitting up for nowt, the environment benefits as unwanted items aren’t flung into landfills.
Of course, there is some moth-bitten tat out there. But there’s also top-quality stuff people just don’t use anymore. Bagging the best is all about the etiquette – you need to give stuff yourself and keep your eyes peeled.
7. Rent payments are scheduled to go on credit files
In March 2012 it was announced rent payments could appear on your Experian credit file by the end of that year, though this was delayed and still is as of October 2014. This means whether you’re on time or late paying rent, it could start to affect your ability to get credit.
The potentially positive impact is that consistently punctual rent payments will appear, boosting your credit history. Here’s the key info we know…
- You won’t be linked to flatmates. Originally Experian planned to financially link flatmates who had a shared tenancy agreement. However, after pressure from MSE and our forum users, it changed its plan. See more in the Rent payments to go on your credit file news story.
- Who will this apply to? This won’t be automatically in all contracts. Landlords must insert it. It’s believed many ‘amateur’ landlords are unlikely to do it, certainly to begin with. For now, it’ll only apply to private rentals.
- Why is Experian doing this? It will open up a new income stream for the credit reference agency, as soon landlords will be able to pay to search credit files before deciding to rent out a property to someone.
- Who can see what? Rent payments will soon sit on your credit file, in a separate section to mortgage, loan or credit card history. Landlords will be able to see rent-paying history to judge potential tenants, but not the rest.
Some landlords already check a list of those who often miss payments, but this will be the first full-scale sharing of rent payment data. Banks and other lenders will be able to see your complete history. See the news story for full details.
Read more here