Renting has become an increasing way of living nowadays, as the property ladder looms further out of reach for many Brits. Those that do rent often find themselves in hot water for an array of reasons; tricky landlords, constant worry of bills, and general upkeep.
This will made even harder by the recent cost of living crisis. National Insurance, council tax, and food and fuel prices have all increased due to the economic epidemic, and experts have warned that the spikes won’t start slowing anytime soon.
It is important to know your rights when it comes to renting, and the money saving experts have several tips for you that might make life easier. Looking at Money Saving Expert, founded by finance guru Martin Lewis, we have put together a round up of crucial tips of which you might want to take note.
Here are five of the best tips that the Money Saving Experts’ site has to offer for UK renters:
1) Vet the landlord
If a prospective landlord strikes you as unreliable or unreasonable (for example, they turn up an hour late), think twice. After all, it’s easier to walk away now than be stuck with a landlord who won’t carry out essential maintenance and repairs as needed – or worse.
Renting direct from a landlord: Don’t hand over any cash until you’ve got the landlord’s full name and a contact address in the UK for them. If you’re concerned, Forumites also recommend checking they own the property via the Land Registry website (costs £3) – for more info.
Renting via a letting agent: This is a firm that rents out properties on behalf of the landlord. Check they’re a member of a professional body such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents, National Approved Lettings Scheme, UK Association of Letting Agents or National Association of Estate Agents.
2) Max your interest if you’re saving to buy a house
There’s no shame in renting – and 21% of households in the UK do it. Yet if you’re lusting to own, always save for your deposit the right way to reach your goal sooner.
The Government launched the Lifetime ISA in April 2017. You can earn interest tax-free and then the state will add 25% free cash (up to £33,000) on top of what you save.
What renting tips have you found most helpful? Have your say in the comments
3) Ensure you have contents cover from as soon as you move in
If you rent, your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, so you should only be getting contents cover (essentially, it’s for stuff that’d fall if you turned your home upside down).
As buildings insurance generally covers the building itself (unsurprisingly), this is usually the property owner’s responsibility. Generally, this means you’re unlikely to need building insurance if you’re renting.
There may be exceptions, for example, if the contract says you need buildings insurance – check with your landlord if unsure. How to get the cheapest contents cover will vary depending on whether you’re house-sharing or not.
4) Grab free apps to check rentals on the go
There’s a plethora of sites and apps which let you quickly search for property to rent in your chosen area. They won’t all come up with the same listings, so it’s best to try a few if you can. These are the best we’ve found:
- Rightmove: The mack daddy of home search sites, Rightmove lists a huge number of rental properties.
- Zoopla: Zoopla also lists a huge amount of rental pads – its site says it lists over 190,000 properties to rent at the time of writing.
- Onthemarket.com: OnTheMarket.com launched in 2015 after six leading estate agents clubbed together to challenge the dominance of Rightmove and Zoopla.
- Homes.co.uk: MoneySavers also rate lesser-known Home.co.uk. It says it lists over 150,000 houses, flats and rooms to rent at the time of writing.
5) Note down any flaws – and use them to haggle
Once you’ve found the place you want, don’t think you always have to pay the asking price for the rent. Ask if they’re open to reasonable offers, and put in a lower price that you think is reasonable. Don’t forget, it’s a negotiation – they don’t have to accept, but it’s well worth asking, particularly if you think it’s overpriced.
A good way to help you get leverage here is to note down any flaws in the rental. For example, the carpets may be worn in patches, or the bathroom ceiling could do with repainting. Point this out, and ask if they’ll take a lower price because of it.
If not, see if you can get the repairs thrown in (always get this in writing with the contract). It’s well worth a try – even £10 off the monthly rent may not seem like a lot to a busy landlord, but it’s an extra £120 in your pocket each year.