7 mistakes to avoid when renting a new home

The housing market is always changing and expanding, and more people are now renting privately than ever. However, with the increase in demand comes an increase in the amount of letting agents who are willing to try and get as much money as they can.

1 – Using an unregistered letting agent

Once you’ve seen a property you like the look of, the first step thing to check is whether the letting agent is registered with the Property Ombudsman. This will indicate whether they’re a legitimate company that’s likely to be treating you fairly, or a company just trying con you out of cash.

2 – Not viewing the home first

If the letting agent is legit, the next thing you need to do is arrange a viewing. Never agree or exchange cash until you’ve seen the home in person. This is to ensure everything is exactly how it’s described and you’re getting a good deal for your money.

3 – Not taking notes

Both before and after you view the home, ensure you draw up a checklist and make notes on aspects you like or want to look at. This may be checking if the house has double glazing, or making sure there is a washing machine installed. Sometimes the excitement of the viewing can make you forget even your most basic requirements.

4 – Keeping quiet

Ask questions. If you don’t ask the letting agent key questions, you won’t know the answers. Ask about how much the bills tend to be, who your gas, electricity and water suppliers are, what the recycling policy is in the area – anything to give yourself a feel for the home.

5 – Not doing your research

You must research the area before moving there. If you’re planning to work across town but have no immediate transport links, you may want to rethink the area you’re moving to. Similarly, if you have children, you’ll need to look at how easy – or difficult – the school run would be.

6 – Signing tenancy agreement straight away

Some companies have a seven day cooling off period, where you can opt out of your agreement, however, many don’t. Therefore, before going in to sign on the dotted line, ask for a copy of the agreement and ensure you’re 100% happy with every aspect of the agreement. Don’t hesitate to bring up anything you’re not happy with.

7 – Not taking your own pictures

When moving in, take pictures of any imperfections, such as superficial cracks or broken locks and make sure the pictures are clearly dated. Bring them up with your letting agent as soon as possible. If you don’t, when you move out this could result in the letting agent withholding some, if not all of your deposit. Carry out routine maintenance on wear and tear that occurs while you live there, and report faults as soon as they arise.

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  • commented 2014-05-28 20:21:21 +0100
    Hi Chris,

    I believe short leases or rental agreements come within the scope of the Distance Selling Regulations where cooling off periods apply.

    I believe you are confusing the provisions of the Distance Selling Regulations and the THE CANCELLATION OF CONTRACTS MADE IN A CONSUMER’S HOME OR PLACE OF WORK ETC. REGULATIONS 2008 or “Doorstep Selling Regulations”. I believe rentals of property are excluded from the “Doorstep Selling Regulations”.

    The above is an opinion and does not constitute legal advice.

    Confused? Get professional legal advice.
  • commented 2014-05-28 20:21:21 +0100
    Hi Chris,

    I believe short leases or rental agreements come within the scope of the Distance Selling Regulations where cooling off periods apply.

    I believe you are confusing the provisions of the Distance Selling Regulations and the THE CANCELLATION OF CONTRACTS MADE IN A CONSUMER’S HOME OR PLACE OF WORK ETC. REGULATIONS 2008 or “Doorstep Selling Regulations”. I believe rentals of property are excluded from the “Doorstep Selling Regulations”.

    The above is an opinion and does not constitute legal advice.

    Confused? Get professional legal advice.
  • commented 2014-05-28 13:50:52 +0100
    “Some companies have a seven day cooling off period, where you can opt out of your agreement, however, many don’t.”

    Actually it’s now a 14 day cooling off period (by law) but only if you don’t sign it on the premises of the agent.