renting housing

How does renting work?

As with all housing solutions, there are both benefits and downsides for the tenant when it comes to renting property. But how do you go about renting somewhere to live? And what are some of the benefits?

The basics

Renting in its purest form is an agreement between two parties. One person – the property owner, or “landlord” – allows another, the tenant, to use their property in return for some financial benefit i.e. a tenant pays “rent” to live in a landlord’s house.

Most tenancies are “assured shorthold tenancies” that last between six months and seven years, and are legally binding arrangements that give the tenant both rights and responsibilities. For the whole tenancy, rent must be paid on an agreed day, and failure to pay the rent as agreed can result in court orders such as eviction notices. The property must also be maintained to the best of the tenant’s capabilities, and not sub-let without permission.

What do you need to rent a property?

To rent most properties, whether from a private landlord or through an agency, you will require a form of ID, a bank account, proof you have the right to live within the UK, and sometimes a credit check to evaluate your personal finances. On top of this, an upfront deposit may be required – typically one to two months’ rent – which is taken as security and placed in a regulated deposit protection scheme. A deposit is returnable upon leaving the property; assuming none is deducted in order to pay for any damages. Generally, a deposit is taken if the landlord is not informed of minor problems which then evolve into major issues – so prompt reporting is key!

What to look out for when renting

If you have additional needs – for example, if you smoke, or have pets – then you will need to ensure that they are permitted in the rental agreement prior to moving in; otherwise, you may find legal action being taken against you if it is prohibited, and especially if it causes damage to the building.

Pros and cons

The most obvious downside to renting is you do not own the property and thus have no formal rights to modify or improve the building without permission. For example, if you wished to upgrade your home’s windows, to reduce heating costs, then you would require authorisation from the landlord, who can legally deny any request as long as the house remains safe and habitable.

On the flip side, the tenant also has no obligation to fix issues that may arise. To give an example, if the building’s boiler malfunctions or a pipe leaks, causing water damage, then the tenant has no financial liability to repair the property. In fact, that responsibility, legally, falls directly on the landlord’s shoulders as they are required to maintain the building and all utility supplies.

For this reason, although rent may have a greater monthly cost compared to a mortgage, the lack of any need to pay for repairs and improvements means that you can often save money in the long run.

Written by Marley Sexton

Copyright Io4 UK Limited

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