Top tips for first-time tenants

Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said: "Renting is often seen as a low-hassle, lower risk option when compared to purchasing a home, yet many people find the prospect of renting a home daunting, whatever their age or experience.

"First time tenants – young or old – should remember to keep the process as focussed and simple as possible. Keeping to some simple guidelines can help tenants navigate the process from property hunting to signing a tenancy agreement."

ARLA has the following advice to help make the process as smooth and trouble-free as possible for "generation rent":

1 It can pay to research your desired postcode: Be aware of the average rental rates in your desired area to avoid any surprises when looking for a property within your price range. A local lettings agent should be able to give you a better idea of how much you should expect to pay for the type of property you are looking for. Sometimes moving even a mile away , or simply over the road or round the corner from your target property can get you a lot more for your money.

2 Lettings is an unregulated industry: The rental industry is not subject to any government legislation, meaning that anyone can set up as a letting agent or landlord. For peace of mind, do your research and seek advice from a letting agent affiliated to a professional organisation like ARLA. All ARLA agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect consumers if things go wrong.

3 Your deposit should be secure: A rental deposit can often represent a significant initial outlay for tenants and is typically the equivalent of six weeks’ rent. It is a legal requirement that the landlord or lettings agent protects the deposit through a tenancy deposit scheme, such as the TDS, which guards against possible misappropriation of monies. Tenants can find out more at www.direct.gov.uk/

4 A professional inventory can help protect you: A well prepared, detailed inventory assists in getting fair decisions at the end of your tenancy. Make sure that you thoroughly check the inventory provided and that you are happy it accurately covers anything you have concern about. If there are photographs make sure they are good quality and reflect accurately any items captured. All documents should be signed and agreed by both landlord and tenant.

5 There are different kinds of tenancy agreement: Many shared tenancies contain a joint liability clause and this means you are responsible for the actions of your co-tenants for the duration of the tenancy. This includes covering their share of the rent if they were to unexpectedly move out. Before you enter such an agreement consider how well you know your sharers. And if you are asked for a guarantor when sharing, then make sure that they understand that they are guaranteeing all your responsibilities contained in the tenancy agreement.

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