Expert Warning Over Five Mistakes That Cost New Renters A Packet
Renting in the UK just seems to be getting more and more expensive right now.
Some experts and charities suggested last April that it was at the heart of the cost of living crisis – and with interest rates still high, mortgage rates still soaring, it doesn’t look like rent is going to fall any time soon.
But there are a few small things you can do to give yourself a little bit of financial respite when you first move in to a new property...
1. Don’t be shy about requesting furniture replacements
According to personal finance expert Dan Whittaker, who works for credit broker CashLady.com, you need to tell your landlord if the furniture and upholstery in your furnished home is not up to scratch.
He said: “Most renters may not be aware that all furniture and upholstery within a property provided by a landlord must meet certain standards and, if not, it’s the landlord’s duty to replace them – not the tenant’s.
“If the furniture that comes with the property is broken and unusable, be sure to question your landlord rather than splash out on new furniture that you may not be able to move to your next home.”
That includes fire-safe furniture such as sofas, armchairs, futons, sofa beds, nursery furniture, beds, headboards, bed bases, garden furniture used indoors and scatter cushions and fitted covers.
Every item of furniture or equipment must be fire-resistant or treated with fire retardant coatings. You can tell by looking at the manufacturer’s label which has to be legally attached to the item.
If it’s been removed, or does not say that the item is fire-resistant, the landlord is legally obliged to remove or replace it.
“Remember, it is your right to question your landlord on these matters which could end up saving you money – or even your life,” Whittaker noted.
2. Make sure you have an inventory
Your landlord should do this for you, but it’s not always the case.
When you first move in, make a note of every bit of damage to the items in the property and send this to your landlord.
“If you fail to highlight these at the start of your tenancy, your landlord can charge you for the damages when you move out because there will be no proof the damage was there before you moved in,” Whittaker pointed out.
This means marks, tears in materials, paint stains, faulty appliances, scratches on the floor – you name it, it goes on the inventory.
Date stamp any photos you can, and send them to your landlord, too, so you have a particularly strong case when you move out.
3. Think about where you’re getting your energy from
We all know energy bills are going through the roof right now.
But, you may not know that you are actually entitled to choose your own gas or electricity provider, so you can negotiate the best price.
“There have been occasions where landlords have specified the energy provider that the tenants must use in their contract. Unless the landlord is paying for the gas and electricity, which is quite rare, this is illegal,” the personal finance expert explained.
“There may be cases where the landlord expresses a ‘preferred supplier’, but again, this should not stop you from switching suppliers if you wish,” Whittaker added. “However, you should let your landlord know if so.”
4. Do *not* pay for replacement appliances
You do not need to pay for washing machines, boilers or broken kitchen appliances to be fixed.
Generally, it’s your landlord who needs to pay for appliances that are part of the property and the permanent parts – like walls, roof, drains, windows, floors, gas pipes, wiring, sinks, baths, toilets, etc.
“It’s important that renters keep their flat in a respectable state; however, these repair responsibilities are not something that your landlord can legally charge you for, and cannot be charged via anything in your tenancy agreement,” Whittaker said.
5. Keep an eye on your tenancy agreement
Landlords have to look after people in their property, but in turn tenants have to monitor the property.
So go through your contract thoroughly when you first get it. There may be terms in there you might other miss, such as paying for professional cleaning when you leave.
If you don’t fulfil the terms of your agreement, you could pay more in the future when you move out.
For more detailed queries about your agreement, try getting in touch with a lawyer or Citizens Advice.