Checklist for prospective tenants
The Government has produced a guide for people who are looking to rent, giving advice on matters to consider.
Gas safety and energy performance
Prospective tenants should visit the property before renting it and ask to see the gas safety certificate (HSE website) if relevant, and the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (Energy Saving Trust website) for the property. Both are legal requirements – landlords must have a gas safety check on all gas appliances and installations in the rental property and must have a current EPC, which gives an indication of the thermal efficiency of the property. This is very important, as the least efficient properties will be much more costly to heat to a comfortable temperature.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has produced a guidance leaflet on fire safety in the home which may be of interest to people who are at greater risk from fire, including those who smoke (including electronic cigarettes) or who may have oxygen supplies in their home for health reasons
If your landlord is asking for a tenancy deposit, then check where your deposit will be held, as landlords are required to protect deposits in a government-approved scheme.
It may also be useful to ask if the property and landlord are accredited under the Cheshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme – this sets minimum standards for the management and condition of the property.
The most common form of tenancies used now are Assured Shorthold Tenancies (GOV.UK website) and these are often rental agreements for 6 months, although they can be for longer periods. Where the fixed time limit on an AST ends, and the tenant remains in the property without signing another AST, the tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy.
If your rental property is unfurnished (most are) then you may wish to consider purchasing second hand furniture to help you to furnish your home if you are working to a tight budget. Locally there are several charitable organisations that sell second hand furniture, including St Rocco’s Hospice Furniture and Interiors Shop and the YMCA furniture project, which is specifically targeted at young people.
If your rental property is furnished, ask to see evidence that any previously used electrical goods provided have been tested by a competent electrician and found to be in good order. Also ask if any furniture provided complies with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations.
Additional financial support
If you are on a low income consider whether or not you may be able to claim housing benefit or council tax support from the council.