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On the move? A guide to renting

Renting is often seen as something you do before climbing the property ladder. However, research shows this may not be the case at all. In fact, within a decade, nine out of 10 under-35s in the UK won't be able to afford their own home and face becoming permanent renters.

Despite offering more flexibility and choice, there are some common pitfalls to renting. With this in mind, we've put together this guide to help you avoid them.

Make sure you've got contents cover from the day you move in

Home insurance

Your landlord is responsible for insuring the building, but your belongings will only be covered if you take out contents insurance. Without it, you run the risk of being out of pocket if you're the victim of bad weather, fire or theft. A recent survey by ComparetheMarket.com says over 115,000 uninsured rented households have suffered a domestic burglary, with renters losing over £330 million in stolen goods each year.

When you take out contents insurance, you'll be asked how much cover you want. The amount you choose should equal to the total value of all your personal possessions, so make sure you don't undervalue your items. This contents calculator will help you reach an accurate final figure.

Is it safe to move in?

Your landlord's responsibilities are to make sure the property is safe, particularly if there's a gas supply to your home. You should be given a gas safety certificate before moving in and they should also arrange a gas safety check every 12 months, by a registered gas safety engineer. There should be smoke alarms installed on every floor of the property, and a carbon monoxide detector if there's a coal fire or wood-burning stove. Any furniture or furnishings provided must meet fire resistant standards.

Make sure to check the exterior and structure of the property, your landlord is also responsible for fixing any problems with the roof, chimneys, guttering or drains.

Did you know?

  • 48% of all renters don't have contents insurance.
  • A break-in will cost the average uninsured household £2,833.
  • 16-34 year olds are most affected, with 60,000 uninsured properties losing over £170 million.

Source: £330 Million of uninsured contents stolen from rented properties every year — comparethemarket.com

Check your deposit will be protected

Your deposit must be protected by a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and your landlord or letting agent has 30 days to do this. The scheme ensures you get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy, provided you're rightfully entitled to it. Make sure the inventory taken when you move in is a true reflection of the state of the property, as this will be a major part of you getting your deposit back. If there are any damaged or worn items when you start your tenancy, document these in the inventory and agree this in writing with your landlord. If you don't do this, you could be held responsible for them when you move out.

If you're renting through a letting agent, check their fees

In November 2016, the Government's Autumn Statement detailed plans to ban letting agent fees. However, this law has not yet been enforced and you can still be charged for a number of services, such as:

  • Administration costs
  • Credit checks
  • Drawing up the contract
  • Creating the inventory.

These charges can vary immensely. For example, a simple credit check should only cost around £30 - £40, but some agencies charge over £100. Also, be aware it's a criminal offence for a letting agent to charge you for registering with them. If you find an agent that it doing this, report them.

If in doubt, seek advice

If you're unsure about any of your rights as a tenant, Citizens Advice and Shelter are great places to go for advice. We can help with any insurance questions you may have.

Contents insurance

Safeguard your personal possessions with our great value contents insurance, which is Defaqto 5 Star rated and comes with a range of benefits as standard. Plus, you can tailor your policy to suit your needs with optional extras such as home emergency cover and legal protection.

Get a quote today and see how much you could save.

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