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Life Skills – Renting a Home

Life Skills – Renting a Home

When you’re flying the nest and finding your first home away
from Mum and Dad, chances are you’ll be renting your new digs, whether that’s a
house, duplex apartment, or studio.

Renting is an exciting opportunity to enjoy living independently
without being tied down long-term, but there are a few essential things to
consider. As part of our ‘Life Skills‘ series,
we wanted to give you some pointers to ensure you’re heading in the right

We consulted the real estate
experts at Rightmove
to get the inside scoop on what to be aware of when
you are looking to rent your first home.

What kind
of deposit will I have to pay?

Renting anywhere, big or small, will require you to pay a deposit
before moving in. This safeguards the property owner in the event of you
leaving it in worse condition than when you moved in. In this instance, your
deposit will not be refunded and will go towards repairs.

If you look after your home, chances are you’ll get your
deposit back in full when you leave, but how much will it set you back

A typical deposit consists of six weeks’ rent – coupled with
the first month’s rental fee, this is normally the biggest upfront fee involved
in the renting process. There is no legal cap on how much landlords can charge
for a deposit in the UK, however in Scotland it is limited to two months’ rent.

If you are renting as part of an assured shorthold
, your landlord is legally obliged to place your deposit
money into a protected scheme. If this has not happened within 30 days of your
rental agreement beginning, then you are entitled to consult The Property Ombudsman for

If you want more information about the cost of renting, check
out Rightmove’s
Rental Price Tracker
to size up how much money you’ll need to rent in
various UK regions.

What are
letting agency fees?

If you rent a property through a letting agent, you can
expect to pay additional fees to cover any work they have to do.

This will normally include the following:

  • Reference checks – this involves contacting your
    previous landlord to see if you can be relied upon to pay your rent, as well as
    your employer who can confirm you have a regular income that will cover the
  • Credit checks – this is to get an idea of your
    financial behaviour and see if there is any indication that you might not pay
    rent on time.
  • Drawing up contracts – there is a lot of paperwork
    involved with signing a new tenancy agreement, so you pay an administration fee
    to cover this.
  • Professional property clean – between tenants, most
    letting agents arrange for a deep clean of the property so that you find it in
    perfect condition upon beginning your rental agreement. This allows for an
    easier analysis of any damage when you come to leave the property.

If you are allowed to bring pets to live in the property (and
this is permitted in the terms of the agreement), then this may incur an extra

One thing to watch out for is the letting agent charging you
for viewing a property. This is, in fact, illegal – if unscrupulous agents spot
that you are a first-time tenant, they may try to take advantage of you. Never
agree to view a property for a fee.

How can I
speed up the process?

Unfortunately, a lot of work goes into the creation of a new
rental agreement, so there is little you can do to make it go faster.

However, it will help if you can reply to calls or emails as
quickly as possible, and locate copies of a few key documents before the
process begins: proof of current address, proof of employment (such as a payslip),
and a bank statement.

These may not be required, but if they are, it will only
cause delays if you have to search for them amongst piles of paperwork at home.
Find them first and have them ready. Keep everything in a designated,
easy-to-find folder, box, or file, and this
will prevent a last-minute panic.

Can I make alterations
to my home?

Whether or not you can engage in a spot of DIY in your rented
home depends entirely on the landlord. Some will be happy for you to
personalise the space with a coat of paint here, or an extra picture hook
there. Others will want it left exactly the way you found it.

However, you enter into dangerous, potentially
contract-breaching territory if you make any changes without first consulting
the landlord. Any requests to make changes must be submitted in writing (often
via the letting agent), and you must not begin any DIY work until you have had
written consent. This protects you when it comes to getting your deposit back
when you plan to leave.

If you are very lucky (and you’ve been a dependable tenant),
the landlord may even agree to organise the changes themselves, meaning you
won’t have to lift a finger!

What if
something breaks and needs repairing?

Stuff breaks: it happens. However, when your
shower/fridge/extractor fan/anything else breaks and you need it fixing, your
first port of call is your landlord. It is up to them to authorise and organise
a professional repair.

You, as the tenant, are expected to fix anything that doesn’t
require a paid professional to carry out. However, for the maintenance of such
things as pipes (gas or water), boilers, appliances (like dishwashers or
washing machines), and radiators, the only thing you are expected to do is
inform your landlord as soon as possible.

When the repairs have been authorised, your landlord should
keep you completely informed of progress, letting you know whenever anyone is
scheduled to come to your home and carry out work.

Renting your first property will teach you everything you
need to know about managing finances, looking after the things you own, keeping
yourself well fed
, and most
importantly: being house-proud.


Have our
tips helped you wrap your head around renting? Do you have any that you want to
share? Get in touch on
Facebook and Twitter!

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