So you want to move to England – that’s great! But first you need a place to stay. While you might start off couch-hopping or a short-term rental at a hostel, it’s likely that you will eventually be up for renting in England.
Unfortunately, there’s so many horror stories around renting property in the UK. As a foreigner living in England, I wanted to share my top 8 tips for renting in England to best protect yourself and your money.
I wanted to share things I’ve learned from renting in England, straight from my personal experiences. I’m a foreigner living in England but I think these are relevant to anyone renting.No one sat me down and said these things to me before so I hope they can help. If you have any advice or tips for renters, please leave it in the comments to help each other out!
1. Check over your tenancy agreement
If you can, have as many different people read your tenancy agreement as you can. These might be friends, coworkers or even your boss. Whoever you trust (and can spare a few minutes) it’s best to get other eyes on your tenancy agreement, as it’s likely you’ll miss stuff.
One thing in particular I missed on one tenancy agreement was our letting agency wanted us to give two months notice if we wanted to leave, but the box-standard is one month. We should have questioned this but didn’t notice until it was too late.
2. Take in-depth inventory at the beginning of your tenancy
Some properties may have a very formal check-in process, while some might be informal. Whatever your experience is, make sure to take your own in-depth inventory at the very beginning of your tenancy. This can include things like:
- Take your own photos, even if the letting agency takes photos
- Request any photos the letting agency takes
- Note down everything about the property – scratches, issues, etc
- Even if the letting agency provides an inventory list, make sure you have copies yourself
3. Create a master database
If you ever need to reference a day, issue or specific detail, it can be tough trying to find it. To avoid this, create your own master database for that property. This can be a Word document, spreadsheet, Notion page or whatever program you’d like to use to document everything
Note down everything in your spreadsheet, including date, when you contacted the agency, when it was finally repaired, etc This will be your master list of all issues and related details
Having in-depth notes will help you if issues arise and you will already have proof of what was done, or not done.
Ex. 21 June, toilet broke, called agency and spoke with John. Went without working toilet until plumber arrived 27 June. Add in emails and photos so its organized together
4. Get a copy of all inspections, usually every 6 months
Make a point of asking for copies of all inspections of your property from the letting agency. We weren’t evgivenn one until we asked for it (a few times). Once you receive these inspections, make sure to add them to your database/spreadsheet.
5. Raise all concerns via email to your letting agency
Having all correspondence done in writing will help if you need to prove the communication in the future. It’s really simple to reference an email rather than a phone conversation that you can’t prove took place.
Calling the agency is good for urgent matters, like your toilet just exploded, but follow up with an email so you have records. This email could say something like: “As per our call today…”
6. Go through the letting agency for all reasons, not the landlord
I’ve had it both ways, one where we never met the landlord and one where the landlord constantly came around and wanted to deal with us directly. Categorically, dealing directly with the agency was better. The less contact with the landlord, the better it was for us.
I find that dealing directly with the letting agency gives you better protection if something goes wrong or the landlord lies to you, or does something they’re not supposed to.
7. Be a little bit critical
I was naive to think that letting agencies and landlords would play by the rules, and that has not always been the case. Even if the landlord is very buddy-buddy with you, people change when money is involved. I’ve been lied to and it doesn’t feel great so make sure you’re a bit wary. Sometimes it’s helpful to be a little bit cynical when it comes to renting property in England.
It’s important to remember that living in England isn’t always fun or easy. No matter what your renting experience has been like, it’s always helpful to protect yourself and advocate for yourself abroad. And sometimes that means being a little bit critical.
8. Get it clean!
I personally budget to have an End of Tenancy clean moving out and think it’s worth it. Getting a professional clean is not legally needed but way better than cleaning yourself. The cleaning company should also have a checklist on what is required by most tenancy agreements to be clean, so they know what needs to be done.
In my last flat, professional cleaners came, used their own products and vacuum. They were done in about 3 hours for £200 and that’s it! I didn’t need to worry about anything.
You can also chose a firm for the end of tenancy cleaning that offers a guarantee so that anything cleaning wise that doesn’t pass the letting agency’s standards is covered and they’ll come back and do it again for free.
The letting agency will probably give you a checklist either in the initial contract or end of tenancy notice about what needs to be done before you move out. Make sure to check this list before you close up the property for the final time.
9. Join forums, Facebook Groups or contact professional
If you find yourself in a tough situation, don’t be afraid to get help. You can find advice on forums, Facebook groups or other websites. While these may not be professionals, it can help talking to someone who’s been through what you’re currently going through.
Even if you won’t be using a solicitor, you can get some advice from various property-law firms
Citizen Advice is a great option for support, information and guidance. Shelter has also been really helpful for me with information on tenant rights and landlord responsibilities. Both websites have lots of resources, videos, articles and a helpful if you need it.
Renting in England
All of these tips can feel over the top or paranoid, but after getting screwed by both landlords and letting agencies, it’s almost vital. You have to protect yourself because they won’t. Hopefully by following these renting in England tips, you’ll have no issues with your next landlord.