If you are looking for a rental property you’ve likely to be signing an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement if; your landlord is a private landlord, if your tenancy began on or after 28th February 1997 or if the house or flat is let as separate accommodation and is your main home. There is several things you should consider before you sign this agreement.
Tips before signing an AST agreement
Before you sign an agreement check what fees the agent will charge, it is important to be clear up front what you will be charged for and how much.
Make sure you get the tenancy agreement in writing. This will help ensure you know what you are responsible for, such as bills & council tax, how long the tenancy is for and what the arrangements are for paying rent.
Before you move in make sure you check and sign an inventory with your Landlord. This will make things easier if there is a dispute over the return of the deposit at the end of your tenancy. Click here to read our guide on the importance of an inventory.
Ensure that your deposit is protected. All Landlords are required to protect your deposit in one of the three government authorised Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes within 30days of accepting the deposit. This is a legal requirement if you have an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. Read more information on Tenancy Deposit Protection in our guide for Tenants.
Ask to see a Gas Safety Certificate. If there are gas appliances in the property it is a legal requirement for Landlords to have an annual gas safety check conducted by a registered engineer. For more information, see our guide on Gas Safety for Tenants
Also ask to see the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property. This will give you an idea on how well the property is rated which will have an impact on the gas and energy bills.
Tips once you’ve signed an AST
Once you’ve signed an AST agreement you’ve got a duty of care to use the property in a responsible way and to keep the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Look after the property. In the event of any repairs required, report them to your Landlord in a timely matter.
Seek advice if your landlord refuses to repair or properly maintain the property. Your local authority has powers to make the landlord carry out the work if the property contains serious health & safety hazards.
Pay your rent on time. It may sound obvious but your landlord may decide to seek possession of the property if you fail to pay your rent. You may be entitled to help with paying your rent by way of benefits. Contact your local authority for more information.
Things Tenants shouldn’t do
No matter what goes wrong in your rented property, don’t stop paying the rent to the Landlord. The Landlord can seek possession of the property on the grounds of non payment of rent and you could be evicted.
Don’t be a nuisance to your neighbours, your Landlord can seek possession of the property on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.
Don’t make any repairs to the property without permission from your Landlord
Subletting the property without the Landlord’s permission is a no no. Ensure that you have written permission from your Landlord before you consider subletting the rental property.
Information contained in this article may have changed since it was first published. Ezylet strongly advises you to seek legal advice from a qualified professional.