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Things you need to Know Before you Rent a Property in the UK

  • December 17, 2019

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.

What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?

An assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is the most common type of tenancy England. Your tenancy will be an AST if:

  • You will be renting privately
  • If your tenancy started on or after January 15th 1989
  • The property you intend to rent will be your main accommodation
  • The landlord doesn’t live in the property

Your tenancy won’t be AST if:

  • The tenancy agreement started before January 15th 1989
  • The cost of rent will be more than £100,000 a year
  • The cost of rent will be less than £250 a year (or less than £1,000 in London)
  • The tenancy is a business tenancy or tenancy of a licensed premises
  • Your landlord will be a local council
  • The property is a holiday let

Are you being Asked to Pay a Fee?

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.

How long do you want to Rent the Property for?

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.

How much can you Afford to spend on Rent?

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.

Are you Entitled to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit?

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.

Which Area Would you like to Live in?

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.

Do you have the Relevant Documents?

You will need certain documents in order to rent a property in the UK. You will need:

  • Proof of identity – Passport or photocard driving license, an official letter dated within the last three months such as a utility bill
  • Proof of your right to live in the UK – A copy of your Tier 2 Visa and any relevant documentation associated
  • Credit history – A tax return for the most recent tax year, pay slips from the previous 3 to 6 months.
  • Bank Account – You will need to have a UK bank account in order to rent a property, in order to open a UK bank account, you will need proof of employment and a BRP, which are explained below.
  • Proof of Employment – You will need a letter from your NHS employer confirming your salary, job title and length of contract, a current employment contract. You will also need this to open a bank account.
  • Biometric Residence Permits – You will also need to provide biometric residence permits for all of your family members. This will also be necessary to open a bank account.

Will you have a Guarantor?

 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.

Are you being charged Fairly for the Deposit?

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.

Are there Property Restrictions?

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.

Who will be Responsible for Bills and Council Tax?

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.

Is the Property Safe?

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.

Is the landlord subletting?

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.

How do I find a Property to Rent?

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.

Relocation to the UK

If you’re an international with plans to relocate to the UK and join the NHS, email your CV to [email protected] and we would love to help you on your journey to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs into the group every single day. We will also be on hand to answer all your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 50 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go with the IMG Advisor Podcast! You can find us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.

References

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].

 
 

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