A Guide to Renting With Confidence (and An Update on Our Garage Conversion)
Do you remember me saying that we’d been granted planning permission to have the conversion
we I want (hubby was overruled!)? Well if not I can’t say I blame you – it’s been that long since I’ve mentioned it! We first decided to have it done back in January when we took our house off the market – so why the inordinate delay?
Basically, if it could go wrong, it has gone wrong. Firstly, we had to get the permission, which was unexpected in itself. Planning is not usually a requirement for simply converting a garage; alas in our case there was a covenant against our property. Which was awesome given that I’d kind of hoped to have this all wrapped up before Elfin arrived… And it took weeks for it to be granted. Then we had to get a meeting in place to discuss the work, and I can’t even remember all the times or reasons we’ve had for cancelling those.
One occasion was definitely our fault though – because I had a baby.
Anyway, we now have a month old teeny one, and our meeting is finally scheduled for this week – and I have the overarching joy of building work to look forward to whilst I have a newborn. So that will be fun…
My brother and his wife have it figured out I think. They’re letting out their flat and moving into their dream home – except they’re renting. Of course, it’s not as straight forward as simply finding your perfect forever home and deciding to relocate – there’s the small matter of finances to consider. They’re lucky that things have fallen into place to make their ideal a reality; sadly it’s not feasible for us to do the same. I *may* be a little jealous.
Finding the Right Rental Property
My husband and I rented before we took the plunge and got our first mortgage several years ago, and I’d also rented many flats before that too. (I moved around a lot during my early twenties.)
Whether you’re renting or buying, moving home is quite an undertaking – there are many considerations. After budget, location, and the property itself are taken into account, there are other elements to think about. Ensuring you’re properly insured with a company such as HomeLet is essential. Alas these other critical issues are all too often neglected – particularly for those who don’t have prior experience of renting.
Hubby and I nearly came unstuck ourselves with our flat…
We loved our little two-bed. It was well-located and nice and tidy inside, mostly. And – of course – it was our first home together which made it pretty special. But it’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of moving out of your parent’s place that one forgets to take care of the practicalities: for us, it was the inventory.
During the first couple of weeks of living in our humble abode, we noticed a couple of issues – we just didn’t think they were serious enough to make a complaint about, so we didn’t.
Problems with Renting
For example, a shelf in the fridge was broken; we merely removed it and stashed it in the storage cupboard as we could make do without. Then there was the mirror in the en suite which was mounted in a surround with a little wooden shelf attached to it; the shelf had warped and was flaking, but you’d have to be some kind of crazy person to make a thing of that, right? And after several weeks, we noticed an unsightly mark on the sofa, hidden under the throw. It was a burn or a tear, probably, which had been crudely glued back together. But again, it had taken us that long to discover it ourselves, so we duly covered it back up and went about our lives.
There were a few other issues, but mostly too insignificant to worry about – let alone to accurately recall eight years on! But one that I do remember and that is relevant (bear with, all will become clear) is the runner in the hallway. It used to ruck up, so we removed it and stashed that with the broken shelf.
We got on very well with our landlady, right up until it came to vacating the property.
The importance of an Inventory
When we announced our intention to move on, we were asked to fork out for having the carpets cleaned. We politely declined to do so, on the basis that they’d been filthy when we moved in. In fact, the worst of the dirt stains were hidden by the runner that we’d taken up!
Our landlady suggested we were guilty of making those marks – and subsequently accused us of causing every other fault with the flat. All those issues we’d lived with for a year without once thinking to raise a complaint, were suddenly thrown in our faces as damage we were responsible for.
After we’d moved out, each and every minor problem was documented with photographic evidence and sent to the Ombudsman with whom we’d been forced to lodge a complaint in order to recover our deposit.
The basis for any claim is the inventory. It’s a critical document (if only we’d known beforehand!) which not only covers the landlord – it also covers the tenant. What should happen is that the estate agent goes around the property with the tenant/s checking over every item and noting any issues. This is then signed by you both to essentially confirm your agreement to the contents of said inventory.
We were very lucky that the Ombudsman ruled in our favour by default – since no inventory was ever completed (ultimately the landlord or letting agent’s responsibility).
Still, it was a major hassle and I’d strongly recommend avoiding making the same mistake we did!
But despite my bad experience, renting does not have to be stressful…
Leading landlord and tenant insurers, HomeLet, recently carried out a survey asking tenants how happy they were with their landlord or letting agent. The results showed:
- 86% of those surveyed were either ‘very happy’, ‘quite happy’ or ‘somewhat happy’;
- With reference to maintenance requests, 75% claimed to be ‘happy’;
- 43.6% of tenancy agreements do not allow pets;
- 12.5% of people surveyed have had their deposit withheld (just like we did). On 39.1% of these occasions, it was cited as being down to cleaning, with 19.3% down to re-decorating costs.
So it’s simply a case of being sensible. There are laws and rights to protect both landlords and tenants, and with some common sense you can rent/let with confidence:
Top Tips for Renting with Confidence
- Enlist a reputable agent to assist with the process;
- Ensure that you complete an inventory asap;
- Ensure that the deposit is protected with the DPS and relevant documents are served to the tenant within 30 days;
- The tenant should purchase contents insurance;
- Any concerns should be put to the agent in writing, to create a paper trail.
You can download HomeLet’s fourth ebook covering advice for landlords here.
This is a collaborative post.