How to get the best deal when renting a UK property

November 5, 2021
energy efficiency
EPC ratings
Home improvements
How To
money saving

To ensure that you get a good deal when renting a property:

  • Negotiate – and back up your offer. Don’t assume you have to pay the advertised rent. Research the local market to understand what is available and, if you find several similar properties that are cheaper, ask the landlord to match the price. Offering to sign-up to a longer tenancy may sway a landlord, while you can also ask if they will cover certain bills or agree to redecorate before you move in (in this case, make sure to set a deadline for completion).
  • Scrutinise your tenancy agreement. Check the fine print, including the dates of the tenancy, notice period, details of your obligations and details of any repairs that will be completed before you move in. This may also highlight opportunities to save money, for instance by removing any requirement to have a professional clean before moving out.
  • Become a property guardian. You can significantly reduce the rent you pay by living in an empty commercial or residential building, but such arrangements tend to provide fewer protections for tenants.
  • Weigh the costs of renting direct. Renting via an estate agent tends to be more expensive, but be aware that renting directly from a landlord (who may not be able or willing to manage it properly) can be a gamble. If possible, try to get to know the landlord before moving in.
  • Get your full deposit back. In England and Wales, your deposit should be no more than five weeks’ rent and should be protected in a scheme backed by the government (if the landlord fails to do this on time you can potentially claim compensation). Before you move in, take photos of the property and agree an inventory (a list of everything provided in the property). Remember that landlords cannot deduct money from your deposit for normal wear and tear, while any unreasonable deductions can be (usually successfully) pursued though the independent adjudication service of the deposit scheme.
  • Check energy efficiency. Landlords must provide an energy performance certificate before letting and cannot let out a property unless it is in band E or higher. Remember that band E properties are likely to be expensive to run so think twice before renting one and consider asking the landlord to upgrade the property before you move in. When you do move in, photograph the energy meter to ensure you don’t pay the previous tenant’s bill.
  • Challenge rent increases. In England and Wales, rent cannot be increased during a fixed-term tenancy unless specified in the contract. If a landlord offers you a new contract, you are under no obligation to accept it.
  • Consider seeking damages if essential repairs are not done. In England, landlords can be taken to court over 29 hazards, including inadequate ventilation and serious mould and damp. Inform your landlord as soon as you spot an issue and keep the receipts of any costs you incur while trying to remedy the situation. If the problem persists, report it to your council’s environmental health department, which can force your landlord to take action.