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A 'Pre-Signing Checklist' for your Tenancy

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

If you’ve found the perfect property to rent, don’t sign on the dotted line straight away.

There are many things to check before you sign a lease! To help you in this process, here’s a pre-signing checklist for your tenancy.

Check the tenancy type

Before signing an agreement, it’s important to check the tenancy type. Assured shorthold tenancies are the most common and nearly always apply to new tenancies.

With an excluded tenancy or license, you will have less protection.

Assured tenancy means you have increased protection, but they’re rarely used due to the difficulties the landlord can experience in gaining possession of the property.

With a regulated tenancy, you have increased protection and you can apply for a ‘fair rent’. This type of tenancy is often only used for tenancies that have been in operation for a long time.

Read the small print

Before agreeing to a contract, ensure the tenancy agreement includes:

  • The names of all parties involved
  • The rent price and how it is to be paid (you can negotiate on this)
  • When the rent price will be reviewed
  • The deposit amount, how it will be protected and what it can be used for
  • The rental property’s address
  • The start and end dates of your agreed tenancy
  • The bills you will be responsible for

It can also include, but doesn’t have to:

  • How you can end the tenancy early, and how much notice you must give
  • Who is responsible for minor repairs
  • Your obligations on occupying the property, such as if you can sublet or keep pets
  • Any agreed works that have to be carried out before, or just after, you move in

Query anything that looks odd and don’t be afraid to push back on anything you don’t agree with, or haven’t seen before. Once you have signed the agreement, it’s very hard to argue against it.

Check the inventory

Immediately upon taking occupation of the property, it is essential to check the inventory and schedule of condition document.

Regardless of whether you’re renting a furnished or unfurnished property, you should be presented with an inventory at your start of tenancy.

Go through the inventory and make sure everything listed is present and correct. This will help avoid a dispute over your deposit when you move out. Report any discrepancies back to the agent or landlord immediately in writing.

It’s also a good idea to do a video inventory yourself with a commentary of any issues. Make sure you send the agent a copy, so they also have it on record.

Check everything is in working order

Before signing your contract, it’s important to ensure that all fixtures and facilities are in working order.

  • Check the taps
  • Test the smoke alarm
  • Check for damp or mould
  • Test the light bulbs and all switches
  • Check everything on the inventory is in good working order
  • Check all locks work

Check your deposit is protected

Before you sign your contract, make sure your deposit is protected.

Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it, if you rent on an assured shorthold tenancy scheme. You must be notified of the scheme used.

Extra costs when renting

Other than rent, you will normally be required to pay between 1 - 3 month’s rent as a deposit, and at least one month’s rent in advance.

You will be required to pay the deposit and the first month’s rent either directly to the landlord, or to the lettings agency. You have to do this before you move in.

If you’re renting the property through a letting agency, anticipate paying letting agent’s fees.

These will be listed on their website and will typically cover:

  • Credit checks
  • Reference checks
  • Administration charges

When signing your contract, be thorough and don’t compromise on anything you’re uncomfortable with!

Moving into a new property? Find out more about it and it's surrounding area with Phil Spencer's Property Report, containing information on everything from schools to crime rates. Get your report here.

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