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What am I responsible for as a tenant?

Not everyone can afford to buy a property, and in fact many just don’t want to. As a tenant of a rented property you will have a landlord who handles many aspects of your home for you. However as we will investigate in this blog, there are some areas of the home that you will have to watch over too and certain responsibilities that you are expected to keep up with.

First of all, it may seem obvious but you should make sure that you spend lots of time in your property and use it as your main home unless specified otherwise. This means if you are ill in hospital, having to look after a sick friend or relative or otherwise indisposed then you should inform your landlord so that they can put any necessary protective measures in place – such as securing the house and turning off water mains. You should also be wary of subletting and renting your property out to someone else while you are away, as this can often be grounds for eviction unless you have made an agreement with your landlord to do so.

Choosing between a furnished or unfurnished property is often a big decision for tenants, but if you do decide to choose a furnished property then you have a responsibility to look after the furnishings; be sure to make an inventory upon moving in (preferably with photographs) so that you have proof of their condition before or after your tenancy as a landlord might want to make deductions from your deposit for any damage you have caused.  Your landlord has a responsibility for fire safety and any furnishings that they provide must meet current fire resistance requirements and they are also responsible for the fitting of smoke alarms.

Ultimately, your role as a tenant and what is expected of you should be made clear in your tenancy agreement. Your tenancy agreement should cover all aspects of your rental and include the following as a minimum:

• Your name and the name of your landlord
• The address of the property you are going to rent
• How much rent you will be charged
• The amount of deposit you will be expected to pay
• How that deposit will be protected and when deductions can be made
• The start date of your tenancy and an end date if applicable

It should also cover important details such as the bills which you are expected to pay and aren’t included in your main rent (typically gas, electric, water, internet and council tax). It may also include information about the rules of living in the property, for example many landlords will not allow pets and may prohibit smoking in their property as both can have a negative impact on the condition of the property.  Finally, Information needs to be included about what deductions can be made from your deposit, for example through damage caused to the property by yourself or your visitors.

During your tenancy, you will be expected to keep up with your rent and failing to do so can often prove to be valid grounds for eviction. So you should always make sure that the cost of the property you have chosen is realistic for your budget and that your job is secure before you sign the papers.

Although you have responsibilities as a tenant, they amount to far less than you would have if you owned a property outright and having a landlord to call in times of crisis (burst pipes, boiler breakdowns, etc) can be of enormous reassurance for many people moving out for the first time. 

When it comes to repairs your landlord is responsible for the structure of your property, but also any sinks, baths, toilets and sanitary fittings, heating and hot water provisions, electrical wiring, chimneys and any other ventilation. In some cases they might also be responsible for other appliances such as fridge freezers and washing machines, but only if they provided them.

If you are thinking about renting a property then you should speak to an experienced estate agent who will be able to guide you with any questions you might have. To find out more about renting property from a tenants perspective see our guide or simply call us on 01904 650650 to speak to one of our team.

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