Top 5 Tips for Tenants

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What fees do you legally need to pay?

There have been lots of changes in the world of fees, and great news – long gone are the days when moving house would cost you thousands!

As a tenant, you should be looking at very minimal fees now, thanks to the Tenant Fees Act, which came into force on the 1st June 2019.

This change means that all you are now allowed to be charged for is:

  • The rent
  • Your deposit (see below!) 
  • A holding fee, which must be returned to you within seven days of a decision being made (unless your application failed due to an action on your part)
  • Any bills associated with running the property
  • Any changes to the contract mid-tenancy, that you request (capped at £50)
  • A fee for late rent after 14 days (interest at not more than 3% above the Bank of England’s base rate)
  • Repairs, at a reasonable cost and with evidence for the cost

You absolutely cannot be changed for credit checks, inventories, references, cleaning fees or any other type of cost – all this is now swallowed by the landlord. 

If you have been charged any additional fees, you have cause for complaint – and can absolutely get it back. Your agent or landlord has 28 days to return it, and they could face a fine!

Also, you cannot be evicted under a Section 21 notice if you have been charged a banned fee (unless it has been refunded). 

What should you know about deposits?

Deposits can be expensive, but there’s lots changing here too!

The Tenant Fee’s Act scrapped huge deposits, and the maximum that can now be taken is five week’s rent, for rents under £50,000 a year. 

Although five weeks is better than unlimited weeks, there are now lots of options, and many of them are really flexible (and much better for your back pocket)!

Lots of landlords are also now open to deposit replacement schemes, which are a much better option for the tenant financially, as you don’t have a hefty whack to pay up front.

That’s how we work here at Mashroom, you can read more about the scheme here : Mashroom’s Deposit Replacement Scheme    

What documents must you receive? 

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and it can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of choosing furnishings and deciding on your new favourite takeaway, rather than focusing on keeping track of bits of paper. 

But there are a few documents that you absolutely must make sure you have received and keep safe – they are legal requirements and could help safeguard you in the future. 

You must ensure that you have a copy of the following:

  • A copy of the Government’s ‘How to rent’ checklist. You should have this before the tenancy starts
  • An up-to-date gas safety certificate. You should have this before the tenancy starts. This must have been carried out within the past 12 months, and you should be given a new one within 28 days of it expiring
  • An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You should have this before the tenancy starts
  • Prescribed Information for the deposit (if a deposit has been taken), which includes the amount of deposit taken, the address of the property, details of the scheme in which the deposit is held, and name/address/contact details of the landlord, tenants and any third parties who have contributed to the deposit. This should be provided to anyone who has contributed to the deposit, so if you have guarantors, they’ll need a copy too. You should have this within 30 days of the deposit being protected
  • Landlord’s (or their UK representative’s) contact details. You should have this before the tenancy starts

If you do not receive copies of these documents, your landlord could be in real hot water – and it can make things tricky for you too, so don’t be afraid to chase for them! 

What are your landlords ongoing responsibilities?

You landlord has a responsibility to you as the tenant, and your safety in the property. 

Landlords are required to abide by a lot of regulations in order to make sure that every element of your rental property is safe, for you and any guests that you welcome into your home. Things like the structural safety of the property, the gas, electrics, water, and heating are all the responsibility of the landlord to keep on top of and there’s lots of legal checks that they have to have carried out to make sure these boxes are ticked. 

However, it is helpful if you can work together on keeping tabs on niggles, don’t wait until a problem reaches crisis point before letting your landlord know! 

What are your responsibilities?

As a tenant, when you and your landlord sign the tenancy agreement, the property becomes your legal home – and you have a right to quiet enjoyment of the property for the duration of the lease. 

However, just like the multitude of landlord legislation that your landlord has to keep on the right side of, there are a few certain rules that you should stick to, in order to keep your side of the bargain:

  • Pay the rent and bills: Sounds an obvious one, right? But life isn’t always that simple, and landlords understand that hiccups in life happen. If you are struggling, pick up the phone – it’s often much easier to sort these issues than you may think, and burying your head in the sand really will just make the situation worse
  • Take care of your home: The property may belong to the landlord, but it is your home. Treat it with love, letting your landlord know of any issues, and it’ll be far easier to rectify any problems in the long run. Nobody wants to live with leaky windows or a broken fridge – speak up! 
  • Love thy neighbour: When you move into a property you become part of the neighbourhood… try to be considerate of those who also live there! No landlord wants to evict a great tenant because of ongoing complaints from neighbours, but sometimes there is no other option 

Moving into a new home can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Find out more about how the Mashroom tenant experience can smooth the way.

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