When you are preparing to rent a property in the UK on an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord must provide you with something called The Checklist for Renting in England. In this article, we will run through some of the key points included in the Checklist relating to the things you should be aware of before you rent a property, and during the process of viewing properties to help ensure that you find a safe and legal place to live.
An assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is the most common type of tenancy England. Your tenancy will be an AST if:
Your tenancy won’t be AST if:
As of June 1st 2019, it is illegal for landlords or letting agencies to charge a fee for their services, so if you show interest in a property and the landlord or agency are requesting a fee other than the deposit, they are breaking the law, and you should not do business with them.
Depending on how long you plan to live in an area and in a particular property means that you are able to negotiate the length of your tenancy with the landlord, anywhere between 6 months and 7 years. Obviously, if you are hoping to buy a home within a few years of relocating to the UK, it is probably worth negotiating a tenancy plan that only spans 6 months to 1 year to begin with. If you decide that you like the property at the end of your tenancy agreement, you can always negotiate a longer agreement when the initial period of your tenancy is due to expire.
The government reports that the majority of people can afford to spend 35% of their take home income at the end of the month on rent, depending on factors such as whether you have other family members to support. This is something you will have to try and calculate before you can decide on a property. You can roughly work out your take home pay on this website.
This question will be on the checklist, but if you are just relocating to the UK for the first time, you will not yet be entitled to help such as housing benefit or Universal Credit. You may be entitled to these if you have lived in the UK for a length of time and have Indefinite Leave to Remain, but there are still some stipulations to this.
Obviously, you will want to find a property within a reasonable distance of the hospital you will be working for, and within a good distance of local schools if you have children. You may be able to commute, but you should consider how far you are willing to commute before you start looking at properties, that way, you can narrow down your search to find properties within a specific area or distance from your place of work.
You will need certain documents in order to rent a property in the UK. You will need:
Some landlords will require you to have a guarantor, someone who will be responsible for paying the rent if you don’t pay it for some reason. Landlords prefer for your guarantor to be someone who is living in the UK, preferably a family member, but if this isn’t possible, they may accept someone from overseas, it will depend on the landlord.
Whenever you rent a property, you will be asked to pay a deposit beforehand. This is to cover any damage that may be caused to the house, or may be used if you, for whatever reason, can’t afford to pay rent one month. The deposit should not be more than five weeks’ worth of rent (where the annual rent is less than £50,000) or six weeks’ worth of rent (where annual rent is more than £50,000). It is also important to check that the landlord will be protecting the deposit in a government protected scheme.
Some landlords do not allow people to live in their property if they have children, pets, or if they are smokers. If it is not stated on the property ad, it is important to check with the landlord or agency whether they allow children/pets/smokers if any of these circumstances are relevant to you.
If you’re hoping to redecorate, whether you’re planning on painting rooms in a property or putting up shelves and photo frames, it’s also worth checking with the landlord beforehand if they are happy for you to make these modifications. Some landlords prefer for tenants not to make changes, as they may only be living there for a short period of time, so it’s important to check first.
In certain circumstances, the landlord may be willing to pay for bills such as gas, electricity and water, though generally this will be your responsibility, if it’s not specified in the rental ad, it is worth enquiring about this.
When viewing a property, it is important to be aware of safety regulations that all landlords should be following. The government website has some more in-depth documents on the checks you should do to ensure that a property is safe, one on how to rent a safe home, and one on fitness for habitation. To give you a brief overview though, you should ensure that there is a working smoke detector on each floor, and if the property has a woodburning stove or fireplace, it’s also very important to check that there is a carbon monoxide detector too. If the property does not contain these, it is possible for the landlord to install them, but you should certainly bring it up.
If someone is renting a property from someone, and the person renting then attempts to rent it out to someone else, this is called subletting. Subletting can be illegal, so it is important to be certain that if someone is attempting to sublet a property to you, that the owner of the property has given the tenant permission to do this.
If you would like to know more about how to find a property to rent, and the pros and cons of renting a property, we have an article giving an overview of the rental process in the UK which you can read here.
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Byers, C. (2019). The documents needed to rent in the UK. [online] Movebubble.com. Available at: https://www.movebubble.com/london/renting-advice/2015/10/documents-need-rent-house-flat [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].
Citizensadvice.org.uk. (2019). Check if you can get Housing Benefit. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/housing-benefit/help-with-your-housing-benefit-claim/check-if-you-can-get-housing-benefit/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].
GOV.UK. (2019). Private renting for tenants: tenancy agreements. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/private-renting-tenancy-agreements/tenancy-types [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].
Citizensadvice.org.uk. (2019). Using a guarantor. [online] Available at: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/renting-a-home/using-a-guarantor/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].
Rla.org.uk. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.rla.org.uk/documents/download.shtml?pid=3414&v=3cf1a0fb170ac7ad4569f80fba7bfe39 [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].
GOV.UK. (2019). How to rent: the checklist for renting in England. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent/how-to-rent-the-checklist-for-renting-in-england [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].