How to avoid renting a property from a rogue landlord

Finding your next property to rent can be a daunting experience. Long gone are the days when you looked through your local classifieds, rang a few landlords, paid your deposit and one month’s rent upfront (on a wing and a prayer). Back then the governments focus wasn’t on the lettings industry and Facebook didn’t have the ability to regularly shove renting horror stories on your newsfeed because you clicked on one article back in 2014 - now you, like a lot of other renters are more weary.

Is your prospective landlord the real deal?

Finding your own property without the use of a letting agent is still a viable option but taking your landlord through an interview process Lord Sugar would be proud of is key:

  • Is the landlord part of a council scheme or is a member of an association like the NLA? More local councils are introducing landlord schemes which landlords can join, you can check your local councils website to see if your prospective landlord is part of one these schemes
  • Has the landlord got any references from previous tenants? A good landlord should be able to provide references from previous tenants. If they are hesitant this may be because the previous tenant shafted them and left with no trace or it could be a ‘red flag’ alert
  • How does the landlord deal with your deposit, is the deposit protected? It should be protected by a government authorised scheme and the landlord should notify you of the details. If there is a dispute over the return of your deposit they will arbitrate any disagreements
  • Will the landlord provide a proper Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement that both yourself and the landlord can sign? It needs to clearly state the obligations of both parties, the length of the agreement, amount and when it should be paid as well as the deposit details
  • Ask if the landlord will provide a detailed inventory/inspection report that you both sign and agree to - this will potentially save you from getting all Floyd Mayweather on your landlord should they refuse to give your deposit back
  • Will the landlord provide you with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) & Gas Safety Certificate? Landlords should provide these for residential dwellings, it is a good indicator if you will be spending your hard earned cash on bills or towards that must have gadget on is a must have...honest!
  • Be sure to check if your landlord has fitted two smoke alarms in the property. This is a must by law!
  • What is the process and turnaround time in fixing any repairs? Let's face it, your boss is not going to be best pleased when he can smell you before he sees you, if your boiler is still not fixed 3 weeks later
  • Trust your instinct - if it sounds too good to be true it usually is!

Where to search for your next rented home

There are a number of ways to independently find your next home; from online classifieds, local newspapers to specialised websites such as brightLET Whatever medium you choose be sure to channel your inner Claude Littner.

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