Read your tenancy agreement

It’s time to get your skates on!

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I am about to rent a property for the first time. What responsibilities do I have as a tenant?

Renting is enjoying a revival at the moment – although whether this is as a result of economic necessity or conscious lifestyle choice, is the subject of a good deal of lively debate. As far as the latter is concerned, renting a home that is owned by someone else obviously offers a degree of freedom. Nevertheless, it also certainly comes with a number of responsibilities.

While some of these responsibilities are pretty much universal – such as taking good care of the property, paying the agreed rent on time, and not sub-letting without the landlord’s permission - others will vary from property to property.

So, the best way to be absolutely clear about such matters is to have your solicitor go through the tenancy agreement and spell them all out for you.

That said, the professional body for the lettings industry, the Association of Residential Letting Agents also offers a number of general tips:

While landlords are normally responsible for insuring the building and any furnishings that come with it, tenants need to insure their own possessions.

Many tenancy agreements require the landlord to be informed if a property is to be left empty for any length of time. If you are planning to leave the property empty for a while, you are responsible for preparing the property accordingly – for example, by turning off electrical appliances, emptying and cleaning the fridge, turning off the water supply, etc.

It is the tenant’s responsibility to look after any fixtures and fittings. While reasonable wear and tear is to be expected, it is important to inform the landlord immediately of any damage, accidental or otherwise. Having a detailed inventory is important here.

Sharing emergency numbers with neighbours is a good precaution, particularly in the case of flats, where a problem in one can quickly affect others in the same block.

And finally…on moving out day, be sure to remove or otherwise dispose of everything that you yourself brought into the property during your tenancy. If you do want to leave anything, you must get your landlord’s prior agreement.