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The dos and don’ts of renting

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 21/09/2020 Kalpana Fitzpatrick
a woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: With more people in their 30s and 40s now more likely to be renting, here’s everything you need to know... © Dougal Waters - Getty Images With more people in their 30s and 40s now more likely to be renting, here’s everything you need to know...

With the UK in recession and over one million furloughed workers expected to be made redundant, the UK's renting boom is excepted to continue.

According to the Office for National Statistics, people in their 30s and 40s are three times more likely to be renting their home than 20 years ago. Around three in 10 people aged 35-44 in England were renting from a private landlord in 2017, compared with fewer than one in 10 people renting this way 20 years ago.

If you’re looking to rent for the first time, or just want to swat up on your rights, here's the need-to-know of the renting market now...

Help during the pandemic

If your income has been hit by the recent pandemic, you may be struggling to keep up with rental payments.

In an emergency measure, the government said back in March that you can request a payment holiday of up to three months from your landlord whilst you get back on your feet.

A landlord must give you at least six months’ notice for eviction – this measure is in place until 31 March 2021 under new government guidance to protect those impacted by coronavirus.

'If your landlord wants to evict you from your privately rented home there are three stages they’ll have to go through. First, they’ll need to serve you with a notice. When this expires, they need to go to court to get a possession order, and finally apply for a bailiff visit to evict you. It’s really important to know where you are in that process,' Amy Hughes, housing expert, Citizens Advice, explains.

'If your landlord has not yet given you a formal notice then you won’t be evicted for many months. If your landlord has already got a possession order and applied for a bailiff date, you might be evicted with 14 days notice,' she adds.

If your financial circumstances have changed significantly and your agreed rent is difficult to keep up with, you should talk to your landlord to see if you can negotiate a reduction – use this Shelter template letter to get started.

Also, take a look at Turn2Us benefits calculator to see what help may be available.

Protect your deposit

You're likely to be required to fork out at least four to five weeks’ rent in advance as a deposit. The Tenant Fees Act, which is applicable for tenancies beginning on or after 1 June 2019, makes it illegal for your landlord to force you to pay a deposit of more than 5 weeks’ rent, or 6 weeks’ rent if your annual rent is more than £50,000.

Your landlord is required to legally place your deposit in one of three government-approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes within 30 days of you paying it. They should give you proof of this. For more information, go to Tenancy Deposit Scheme.


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Protect your goods

While you're not responsible for buildings insurance when you rent, it’s a good idea to get contents insurance to protect your worldly goods. Use comparison sites to get a quote for contents insurance.

Remember, getting contents insurance should be a must for all renters, including students. Research from the Association of British Insurers found that nearly three in 10 students have no insurance policy for their belongings! So, even if you're renting whilst at university, remember to take out contents insurance.

a person sitting at a desk with a laptop: Residential image © bee32 - Getty Images Residential image

Write an inventory

When you move in, create and agree a checklist with your landlord of everything that's included as part of the tenancy - also list any faults and damage to the property, furniture and fittings.

When you move out, make sure you get your full deposit back by ensuring the place is clean and there is no damage to the property.

According to End of Tenancy London, 61% of tenant do not get their full deposit back for these reasons, costing them as much as £800 on average.

It’s worth taking pictures when you move in, so that when you move out, you won't be penalised for any damage that was already there.

Make sure you clean up when you leave, and be careful when moving furniture around to avoid charges.

No more letting agent fees

Under the Tenant Fees Act, letting fees for tenancies signed or renewed on or after 1 June 2019 are banned.

Therefore, if you are looking to sign or renew a tenancy now and you're being asked for letting fees, be aware this is probably a scam.

Protect your credit score

As long as you’re a great tenant who pays their rent on time, you can make it count towards improving your credit history.

Sign up with CreditLadder. This app will identify your monthly rent payments and report them to credit reference agency Experian.

Don't forget the bills

Remember, unless stated in your contract, you are in charge of bills. This includes council tax, TV licence and telephone bills.

Remember, if you live on your own or no-one else in your home counts as an adult, you can apply for a council tax reduction of 25% — even if you rent. For more information, visit the GOV.UK site.

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