The Responsible Renters' Checklist
Whatever your reason for renting, there are a few things you can do to both cover yourself and make sure you’re a landlord’s dream tenant at the same time.
This checklist is designed to help you understand what’s expected at every stage of the process, so keep it on hand before, during and after your tenancy to make your private renting experience as smooth as possible.
Before your tenancy
- Decide on your timings and costs up front
If you’re house-hunting as a renter, you’ll probably already have a good idea of how long you want the property for and what you want to pay, but it’s a good idea to calculate the total amount over the whole period of the potential tenancy agreement so you get the full picture of the commitment.
- Check your deposit amount and protection
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to make sure your deposit is protected under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), but we recommend that you take it upon yourself to check that everything is in order. There’s also a cap on the amount a landlord can charge you for a deposit (introduced in June 2019), so you’ll want to double-check that the requested amount for a property doesn’t exceed it.
- Read your contract
OK, it’s an obvious one and not exciting bedtime reading, but checking your contract with a fine toothcomb can prevent starting off on the wrong foot. Understanding how your landlord expects you to look after their furniture, for instance, is a good place to start.
- Protect yourself against accidental damage
If you’ve got belongings you want to protect when you move in, you can do so with contents insurance. The good news is that you’ll also get tenants’ liability cover included with a UIA policy, which means you’ll be protected for any accidental damage that occurs to the fixtures and fittings of your landlord’s property, giving you that extra peace of mind as a private renter.
During your tenancy
- Be a responsible person
It goes without saying that anyone signing a tenancy agreement is responsible for paying the rent on time and being respectful to both the property and the neighbours, so be sure to start as you mean to go on.
- Get to know the place
Take an inventory, including pictures of everything on moving day. Check where the fuse box, stopcock and meters are and get familiar with the boiler – you won’t be responsible for upkeep or maintenance, but you might be able to minimise any damage if anything goes wrong.
- Treat it like your own
General wear and tear is expected, but you’ll need to keep the property in good condition throughout your tenancy. Things like defrosting the fridge-freezer and looking after the garden from time to time will make you a responsible renter.
- Seek permission before hanging anything on the wall
Don’t reach for the hammer or the drill before checking with your landlord that it’s OK to hang pictures or mount TVs on the wall. Some might even include rules about adhesives like Blu Tack in your rental agreement, so it’s always best to check first.
- Make it a home – and only a home
Anything from running a business in an unregistered rented property to cutting a set of keys for someone else – or, worse still, subletting a room or a floor – without written permission will put you in breach of your contract. Moreover, if you sublet the whole property, your landlord can evict you.
- Look after it even when you’re not there
When you get the keys to a rented property, you’re expected to look after it as if you own it, which means locking all doors and windows and setting alarms when you go out (not doing so may invalidate any claim you wish to make on your contents insurance policy).
If you’re going away for a week or more, it’s a good idea to let your landlord know the property will be empty and, if this happens in winter, set the heating to come on for a short period each day to stop the pipes from freezing. If there are outdoor pipes, ask your landlord to make sure they are insulated for the same reason.
- Keep your landlord in the loop
If any accidental damage happens to the fittings or fixtures of the building, you’ll be covered if you have contents insurance with tenants’ liability included, but you should inform your landlord anyway. If anything happens to the furniture provided or the building itself, for instance, they need to know that, too – don’t worry, their landlord insurance should cover it.
If you plan to move out at the end of your agreement, be sure to let your landlord know at least a month in advance (most contracts will specify an expected timeframe). This will allow them enough time to find another tenant to take your place.
After your tenancy
- Reread your contract
Cast an eye over your contract again at the end of your tenancy agreement. Your landlord might need you to put furniture back where it was if you’ve moved it and they’ll need to run through the inventory you signed off on at the beginning to make sure everything is as it was.
- Time for a deep clean
Every tenant wants to get their full deposit back after they’ve left, so leaving a property in at least the condition in which you entered it is the responsible way to ensure that happens. Don’t give your landlord a reason to charge you for cleaning something you could or should have cleaned yourself – some tenants pay a small fee for a deep clean to make sure the place is spotless on the day they vacate.
- Pay your bills and close or update your accounts
If you didn’t have everything included in your agreement, the very last thing you’ll have to do after you’ve handed back the keys is make sure you haven’t left the landlord or the subsequent tenant with any unpaid bills on the property. Contact all your providers to settle your accounts and change addresses or close them if you don’t need them anymore.
- Know your rights
Your deposit legally remains your money until your landlord can provide evidence that they require a portion of it to pay for damages that you caused during your tenancy. They cannot use ‘wear and tear’ as a reason to deduct from your deposit, as that’s par for the course, nor can they claim for repair or maintenance to structural items or utility systems for which they are responsible during the tenancy agreement, such as ceilings and floors, drains and pipes and internal or external fixtures.
Your landlord can claim for any damage you caused to such things, but they must provide proof in order to do so.
About UIA Mutual
UIA Mutual Insurance has been providing great value, high quality insurance to trade union members and their families for over 130 years and the general public can also benefit from our competitive premiums on home, travel, pet and car insurance.
To make an enquiry about house and contents insurance for a rented property, you can contact UIA Mutual here today.