How to rent a house in Britain

What needs to be considered in order to rent a separate house – an apartment or a house – and avoid troubles for the future?

My 3-article guide is geared towards newcomers to the UK and no tenant experience. So, you’ve already found an apartment or house that, at first glance, suits you. What to do next?

At the very beginning, you need to clarify a few points.

The first is bills

Are they included in the rent? Communal services in Britain are expensive, so the question is important, and it is definitely worth trying on this field of happiness. At the same time, it is useful to find out if the tenant has the right to change utility providers: there may not be such a right, then the owner decides.

The second is the deposit

Usually, when renting a separate home, a deposit is required (the standard size is one monthly fee). But when renting a room, especially a cheap one, it may not be there.

Another essential part is the conditions for the return of the deposit. Few Russians know about this, but making a deposit is limited by law: it must not exceed the rent for five weeks and must be registered with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDP), which guarantees its return.

Third – the rental period and the notice period of the termination of the rental

When renting through an agency, the term and warning are always negotiated, but when renting a house directly from the landlord, they may not have them. In this case, the lease is considered indefinite – this means that it can be terminated at any time, both on your part and on the part of the owner (and whether it is good for you or bad, depends on your situation).

If you rent a house for a family with children, this also needs to be clarified: sometimes real estate is rented only to families without children or with children over a certain age. When renting a separate home, this is rarely done. But when renting rooms, there is almost always such a condition, and it is dictated by the purpose of protecting the rights of other residents: they rented a room in an apartment where only adults live, and have the statutory right to demand compliance with the terms of the lease. If your family is a young couple who are planning to have a baby soon, it is better to take this into account and choose a separate home right away.

We act quickly

But now you found out everything you need, discussed it with the family and decided that you want to rent the chosen apartment. Where to begin? That’s right, from a call to the owner or to the real estate agency with a message about the consent to the lease. You need to call as soon as possible: apartments in London leave quickly, especially inexpensive ones, so if you decide that the accommodation suits you, call right away.

Verification of documents

In some cases, they refuse to rent housing without checking – this is called references and credit check. This means that a recommendation and / or proof of solvency will be required from the main tenant. Do not be alarmed, the landlord will be fully satisfied with the employment contract and the salary payment form from work.

Usually, references, credit checks, and so on are the lot of those who rent a larger apartment. All of this will almost certainly be needed if you are renting a house, even a cheap one. And when renting rooms, again, the situation is simpler: both a deposit and recommendations may not be required. And the cheaper the housing, the less requirements the owner has in this regard. Strictly speaking, you can rent a house without having a job and living on unemployment benefits. Landlords, for obvious reasons, do not like such tenants, but in many cases the law obliges them to rent out real estate (subject to a number of conditions).

They also usually check the passport – the landlord is worried about whether you are an illegal immigrant. To avoid problems, any visa valid for the entire rental period is enough, not to mention more serious statuses. If it suddenly turns out that you do not have a passport, since you sent it to the Home Office, the landlord can always check your immigration status directly at the Home Office through a specially created procedure called right to rent check.

Removal rules

Then comes the turn of signing a document called tenancy agreement, that is, a lease agreement. It should contain the exact amount of monthly payments and answers to all the questions listed above. Also, the contract must specify who has the right to live with the main tenant. Sometimes they list the whole family by name, and sometimes they are limited to a short one with family, but the indication must be there, otherwise, by law, the main tenant has the right to live in the rented space exclusively alone. Problems with this rarely arise, but it is better not to give the landlord a chance to take money from you for such a violation of the conditions. This is an important point, and here English legislation differs from Russian: in Britain, only those included in the contract have the right to live in housing.

Here the reader will ask: what about the guests? Guest rules are most often written into the contract, and usually the smaller the accommodation, the tighter the restrictions. If you are renting a room, overnight guests are usually not allowed. This is mainly due to the protection of consumer rights of other tenants: they pay for a room in an apartment where a certain number of people live, and have a full (and legally protected) right to demand that there are no more tenants. But if you rent a separate apartment or house, then you can receive guests. The agreement may not even provide for any restrictions at all, but when they are, the guest is usually limited to a period of two to three days or a week. The restrictions are connected, firstly, with the owner’s responsibility for what happens in his property: unverified and unrecorded tenants mean an increased risk of problems. Secondly – with the owner’s obligations to his bank (and they are always there if the house is bought with a mortgage) and the insurance company. And thirdly – with increased wear: the more tenants in the house, the faster it wears out.

The contract also specifies restrictions on noise, playing musical instruments, the presence of pets and sublease.

Often our compatriots reason like this: “Well, what will he do to me?”, And they are fundamentally wrong. The key word here is “deposit”. If the landlord catches you breaking the rules, he will simply terminate the contract with you and will not return the money when you leave, but will leave it to himself as compensation for material losses. If you actually violated something, the law will be on the side of the owner.

And we have gas in our apartment!

Any rental property must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It characterizes the efficiency of energy saving, which is indicated by the letters from A to G. Only properties with a rating from A to E are allowed to be rented out.

It is better to choose housing with a rating higher than C: this means that it will have good plastic windows and competent thermal insulation. With a higher rating, heating costs are significantly lower.

If a gas boiler or stove is installed in the house, then the landlord must also issue you a Gas Safety Certificate. The owner receives it by ordering an annual check in special services.

Prepared by Elena Chernova

Continued in the next issue.

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