8 Questions To Ask Your Landlord Before Moving In
When you find a great rental it's so very tempting to grab the keys and sign the tenancy agreement. Naturally enough you're excited to move in but there's also the nagging worry that if you delay someone else will beat you to it. Which is understandable.
But rushing into a tenancy can be a mistake. You need to ensure the property is right for you. That you’re able to trust the landlord.
If you're looking at any property there are questions you need to ask before you sign on the dotted line. The tenancy agreement will answer many of these. But it's always better to get clarification and personally ask the landlord or their agent. Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you see fit.
Renting a property is a big commitment. You need to know exactly what you're taking on. So, do make sure you get the information you need. Try asking:
1. How much is the deposit?
This will vary between landlords. But most will ask for a security deposit equivalent to between four and six weeks rent. You need to know the exact amount so you can ensure you have the money available to move in. And to pay for the first month’s rent.
2. What happens to my deposit?
This is one of the most important questions you can ask. By law, the landlord must protect your deposit. This means they have to lodge the money you give them a deposit protection scheme. This scheme protects your money. It prevents the landlord from deducting cash from your deposit without your permission.
When you pay your deposit, your landlord has 30 days to protect it and must give you information about the scheme used. If the landlord doesn’t give you this information you can claim compensation.
3. How do I contact you?
Your landlord's contact details should be on the tenancy agreement. But do make sure you have their mobile phone number, email address and physical address. You must be able to contact the landlord if there is an emergency or a repair. Speaking of which...
4. How do I report repairs and how long do you take to do them?
It's your landlord's responsibility to carry out repairs to the property and any appliances (except those you personally own). However, it's your responsibility to quickly report any repairs or maintenance issues. Of course, it's in your own best interest to do that anyway. But you need to know the landlord will respond. The landlord should be able to tell you the best way to contact them or an agent in the case of an emergency and how they will resolve any problems. As with all the questions you ask, if the landlord can't give an immediate and straight answer to this you should be very wary.
5. How do I pay the rent?
If the landlord says they'll call around every week to collect the rent in cash you should very seriously consider walking away. Very few, if any, reputable landlords will ask you to pay in cash. Insist on paying the rent by direct debit. It's easier to manage, more convenient and more secure.
6. Do you allow pets?
Not applicable to everyone of course. But if you're a pet owner to make sure you clarify the landlord's position as early as possible. There's no point going through the process of agreeing on a tenancy and then finding out the landlord doesn't accept pets.
Don’t ignore any rule which says pets aren’t allowed. If you do so you could be breaking the tenancy agreement and leave yourself open to eviction and losing some or all of your security deposit.
7. Is the property safe and secure?
Two questions in one but they are so important. By asking is the property safe we mean is there a gas safety certificate? The landlord is legally obliged to provide one. The certificate is valid for one year. So do carefully check the issue date. You should also ask to test the smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm if applicable.
As well as being safe ask the landlord about how secure the property is. Is there an alarm? Are the locks adequate? Are the windows lockable? Is there any CCTV? It's important you ask these questions for your own peace of mind. After all, everyone should feel safe and secure in their home.
8. Can I decorate?
When you move into a new rental you want to make it feel like home as soon as possible. But most landlords will have very strict policies on what you can or can't do.
Very few private landlords will allow you free reign. This is understandable as they will have to redecorate as soon as you move out. Some landlords won't allow you to hang pictures or do anything which will damage the plaster. So, make sure you know the boundaries by asking the landlord what's acceptable. If you decorate without permission you could risk losing your deposit as the landlord would look to recover the costs of fixing the damage or repainting the walls.
Reputable landlords will have no problems with you asking questions. They'll be glad to provide the answers you need. If you're happy with the answers you receive and know your tenant rights are being respected, you'll have the peace of mind you of knowing your tenancy is off to the perfect start.
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