With soaring increases in the cost of living and steep interest rates, more and more people are choosing renting over buying a property with a mortgage. Especially useful for those who are moving to new areas for a limited time, and those who require more flexibility in their living situation, renting still comes with its own set of procedures which can sometimes appear daunting.
We have listed some commonly asked questions about the renting process below.
What Is Renting?
Renting refers to the short or long-term rental of a property, wherein the tenant pays a fixed monthly payment to the landlord (owner of the property) in order to live within that property for an agreed period of time.
When you rent a property, you sign a tenancy agreement between you and the owner of the property before you move in. Within a tenancy agreement, you will agree on the length of the tenancy (how long you will live there), the costs associated with your rental, the obligations of you as the tenant, alongside what the landlord is responsible for (including general maintenance, bills, meter readings etc) and much more.
This is a very important legal document which must be carefully considered before signing to ensure that you are aware of your contractual obligations as a tenant.
Will and how will I be affected by the cost of living crisis?
Unfortunately, all UK households will be affected by the rising cost of living. From filling your fridge to filling up at the pump we will all notice our money not going as far as it used to, reducing our disposable income and putting pressure on our finances.
Of course, the extent to which we will be affected by the rising cost of living will differ. For most it will mean a steep reduction in the standard of living and feeling the pinch on our finances but for others it could signal problem debt and the choice between heating our homes and feeding our families.
How Do I Start The Rental Process?
Before you can move into a rental property, there are a number of things you need to review such as your finances and your rental criteria (including location, size, amenities and so on).
Review Your Finances
Working out what you are financially able to afford every month is crucial when it comes to renting a property, and is extremely important for you to establish before you sign a tenancy agreement. As rent is classed as a priority debt, with risks of eviction should you not be able to pay in a timely manner, finding a property within your budget is a necessity. If you need some advice on how to save money which you can put towards a deposit or monthly rent, check out our savings guide here.
Not only is monthly rent an essential element of reviewing your finances, but there are other costs associated with renting a property such as a holding fee, agency fees and an upfront deposit. Your deposit is likely to be the largest expense associated with renting, and under private landlords, your deposit will be held within a tenancy deposit protection scheme by law. Deposits are kept within these schemes in the event of damage to the property, but if all goes according to plan, your deposit will be released from the scheme and refunded to you at the end of the tenancy.
Within your total monthly allowance for rent, you also need to consider whether your utility bills need to be included in that final sum. Though it depends on each individual property, some rentals may have bills partially included within the rental price, whereas other properties legally require you to organise utility bills by yourself. It is key to understand whether your bills are included or not before you move into the property.
Money Helper have a great guide on the breakdown of renting costs here.
Think About Your Renting Criteria
It’s also a very good idea to consider what you require from your rental property before you begin your search. This will help you to narrow down your options, and will help you save time in the process. Whether it be your location, local transport links, property type, number of bedrooms/bathrooms and so on, having your requirements decided beforehand will help to move the process along quicker.
Speak To Letting Agencies
Many will go through a letting agency to help with finding the right property who will deal with the private landlords on your behalf. Through letting agencies, you will also be able to view the property in person, allowing you to inspect the property’s condition. Letting agencies may also charge for their services, and will also often be the first port of call for any maintenance issues. This will be stated in the tenancy agreement if it is the case.
If you decide to rent directly through a private landlord, look for landlords who belong to an accreditation scheme to ensure they are known to fulfil their legal and ethical obligations.
What Happens When I Move Into My Rental Property?
Once you move in, you’ll be issued with an inventory which lists everything which was already in the property before you moved in. This is a key document which can safeguard you in the event of any disputes further down the line.
You must contact the landlord or letting agent if there are any discrepancies on your inventory list, and it is also strongly advised to take photographs of the entire property (including any wear and tear) to save you from hefty fines at the end of your tenancy.
Paying Your Rent On Time
Paying your rent and bills on time is crucial when renting privately. Rent debts are known as rent arrears, and if rent payments are more than 14 days late, you may be liable for a default fee. This is currently capped at 3% interest on your current monthly fee by the Tenant Fees Act.
If you are struggling to pay your rent, it is important that you make your rent payment a priority, speak to your landlord and let them know you are struggling. You can also find out which benefits you are entitled to (this can be done using our benefits calculator) and seek debt advice from a Financial Conduct Authority regulated company such as ourselves.
What Happens When I Reach The End Of My Tenancy?
In most cases, you will be given the opportunity to extend or renew your tenancy once you are nearing the end of your original timeframe. As the Cost of Living Crisis continues, more and more renters are dealing with large increases in rent which may become unaffordable.
Landlords are legally obliged to give tenants notice should they intend on increasing monthly rent payments, meaning tenants have enough notice to find another rental property if need be.
Once you move out of your property, the letting agency and/or landlord will inspect the condition of the property and then you should receive your deposit if there are no issues.
Regulated Debt Advice and Renting
According to our 2022 demographics, 61.47% of our customers who sought debt advice were renting. Dealing with rent arrears is often a very stressful experience for many, and as a priority debt, it requires urgent attention. If you are experiencing debt and need no-obligation debt advice, the team at Angel Advance are here to help. Our online debt advice tool is available 24/7, with no phone call necessary and can help you get started on your debt journey. If you’d like to speak to our team, our friendly and experienced debt advisors can be contacted here.
For a comprehensive overview of How To Rent, visit the Government website.