Lots of people in the UK rent their home. In fact, nearly nine million people in this country now rent.
Some are happy renting; freed of the stress of a mortgage and all the problems that come with being a homeowner. Others would like to get on the housing ladder but cannot muster up the large deposits demanded by lenders. It’s hardly surprising given that the average house costs more than five times the average wage.
What to watch out for
Hardly a day seems to go by without stories of ‘rogue’ or ‘dodgy’ landlords. There are always reports of landlords who charge huge rents for scruffy properties. I bet you know at least one or two people who have horror stories about renting from unpleasant landlords!
So, what should you be looking out for when renting a home? The most important thing is to shop around. Don’t be tempted to sign on the dotted line for the first place you see. Make sure you get an idea of what is on the market and how much different landlords are charging. Houses on the same street can vary widely in price. Don’t get caught out.
Don’t let yourself get ripped off either. There will always be some landlords looking to charge more than they should. Citizens Advice suggests finding out who the landlord is. You can do this by asking for the landlord’s full name and address or looking up their registration online.
When viewing a property, it pays to be organised. Make a checklist before you go. Stuff to be aware of includes the security of the house or flat, the condition of it and the estimated running costs of the property - things like bills, maintenance, that sort of thing.
A landlord will ask you for a deposit. Before you part with your hard-earned cash, check whether your deposit is protected. This isn’t hard to do. Under the law in England and Wales, if you have the most common type of private tenancy agreement (the technical term is ‘assured shorthold tenancy’), your landlord must put your deposit in a Government-backed scheme. Make sure that the landlord has done this.
Another handy tip is having a look on websites like Freecycle and Freegle. These sites have loads of great stuff available for free, so if you’re after an unfurnished or part-furnished rental, you can make the place feel like home for nothing. There’s no catch; it’s simply a way to exchange goods without having to throw them in the bin.