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4 Things I Wished I Knew Before Renting

Renting in the UK is an adventure. With relatively good rights and protections for tenants, it doesn’t have to be a difficult period. Many people in the UK choose to rent for the long term due to choice, rather than affordability. I have personally rented accommodation for the last ten years and have no regrets. 

Like anything, renting still has a learning curve. In this article, I’ll explain what I’ve learned about the process over this decade, so that you’ll have this insider knowledge from the very beginning!


A tenancy deposit isn’t as safe as houses

When I moved into my first property, I paid a rental deposit equivalent to one month’s worth of rent. I treated this deposit a little like a deposit at a bank. I knew I couldn’t access the money at short notice, but I still imagined it as part of my own personal cash savings because I visualised its return at the end of my rental period. 

There are two fallacies with this logic; first, I will always need somewhere to live. Therefore, while I may physically receive the cashback at the end of my tenancy, I would need to immediately use it to sink into the next tenancy deposit or even a house deposit. Therefore, to all intents and purposes, I won’t be seeing that cash again in my bank account. 

Secondly, I underestimated the cost of rectifying damage or issues with the flat. I visualised that small bumps and scrapes would be forgiven, and more serious damage would be fixed on the cheap – but I didn’t really have any justification for thinking this as landlords have the right to replace with like-for-like and the costs of this (including labour) may be higher than you think. 

You can protect yourself against charges from Landlords

The flipside of this depressing realisation is that you can actually buy home & contents insurance specifically designed for tenants. 

Landlords are responsible for arranging buildings insurance if they want it. It’s their asset, so it’s their risk. However, under the terms of the tenancy agreement, you may find many clauses that allow Landlords to pass costs onto you, either mid-through tenancy or via a deduction from your deposit as you vacate the property. 

A renters insurance policy is designed to reimburse you if the landlord uses these clauses to charge you money above and beyond your agreed rent. The value of protection can be very high – such as £10,000, which will help protect you should the worst happen. 

This can provide a way for you to control this uncertain outcome by paying a fixed monthly insurance premium.

Future rent increases are negotiable

Most tenancy agreements last for a fixed term, such as six or twelve months. At the end of this term, the agreement must be resigned. At this point, landlords may take advantage of the opportunity to increase the rent by the rate of inflation or market conditions. 

I learned late on in my renting life that it is perfectly acceptable to push back on such increases rather than just accepting them as a necessary evil. 

By accepting a long series of increases, you are indirectly communicating to your landlord that you will accept any increase and that they can continue to push the price above market rates. 

Of course, landlords are not obliged to renew at the original rent and therefore they may instead ask that you look for alternative accommodation. But if the rent they are asking for is above a fair price, you can likely do better elsewhere. 

You are responsible for paying council tax & TV licence fees

Council tax and TV Licence fees are taxes that are attached to the property you live in. 

That’s why they are the responsibility of the individual to pay, not the landlord, despite them being connected to the address itself. 

This is because the exact charge is completely dependent upon the people who live at the property. For example, council tax is discounted if you live alone, and TV Licences are free for over-75s who receive certain pension benefits. The charges are customised for you and your personal circumstances, and therefore it’s impractical for a landlord to take care of these bills for you. 

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