When moving away for the first time it can be daunting when you first sign a contract. The likelihood is you want to sign everything and get sorted out straight away. However, it is important to read and understand your tenancy agreement as well as knowing what to look out for in order to make sure you are getting a fair deal.
An important thing to be aware of is what kind of agreement you have – a short-hold is fixed for 12 months, a joint agreement covers everyone living in a property while an individual contract means your agreement is solely between you and the landlord/lettings agent.
Key points to check
• When does the contract start/finish?
• Are all the tenants and landlord/lettings agent’s names included?
• Are your obligations clear (eg are you expected to tend to the garden outside? Are you allowed to put posters up etc?)
• How much is the rent and who is liable to pay it (also are bills included)?
• Does the contract allow for reasonable wear and tear?
• Does the contract cover repairs (for example replacing washing machines or dishwashers if they break down)?
If there is anything you are unsure about ask or get advice before signing the agreement.
Deposits have to be in a government backed protection scheme by law. This money can be reclaimed for repairs – however some landlords may attempt to get this money back at the end of the tenancy.
Some agencies now use external inventory companies to check the condition of properties before tenants move in. This evidence can be vital – if a company doesn’t offer this always remember to get pictures as this could be crucial if you want to get a deposit back and at some point need to resolve a dispute.
A guarantor is someone who may be required to pay rent should you be unable to do so – however, you should never miss a payment so avoid this as much as possible. Guarantors may be required to produce ID and sign a form so make sure your guarantor is someone that you trust.
This is often easier with private landlords than lettings agencies – essentially they need to fill the property so it may be possible to negotiate a lower rent, help with bills and so forth.
That being said lettings agencies do sometimes offer incentives such as free month’s rent or bills included so it is worth shopping around.
However, be wary of any deals that seem too good to be true – avoid anyone who doesn’t show you pictures of the property and be especially wary if the rent seems ludicrously low as this could be a scam. As with any company there are reviews and feedback online that can help you find reliable landlords and lettings agencies in your local area.
If you are concerned or unsure about your rental agreement, we are happy to help. Equally if you have a disagreement with a landlord about a deposit or feel that you are being unfairly treated we have the skills, resources and experience to represent you. For more information, contact us today and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail.