Top 10 mistakes made by tenants in the UK

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It’s no secret that the housing market in the United Kingdom is notoriously competitive. The demand for accommodation always exceeds supply, and there are never enough properties to meet everyone’s needs. This may seem like an insurmountable obstacle for tenants in the UK. However, there are actually some things you can do to make your search easier, if not successful.

The thought of moving to a new country can be daunting, especially if you’re looking for a property to rent. There are a lot of mistakes tenants tend to make when relocating to the UK. In this article, we will break down the top 10 mistakes tenants typically make and what’s the best way to avoid them.

1. Tenants ONLY get advice from friends and family. 

In the UK, it’s absolutely true that “word of mouth” carries a great deal of weight. However, it pays to do your homework and investigate all your options in this competitive property market. This means scouring free online resources for information about properties, landlords, and letting agents. It also means getting educated on the different areas / neighbourhoods, documentation and reference checks required, before you start looking for a place to live.

Some tenants in the UK follow the advice of their friends and relatives who have already relocated. The issue is that their suggestions are based on what occurred in the market at that specific moment in time, for their specific property, with specific agents, in a very defined area, etc. For example, whilst it may be possible to negotiate the asking price for a property during the winter season, when the market is sluggish, it is typically much more difficult to do so in spring / summer time, when the market is in its peak season.

To avoid bad surprises, it’s important that you get expert guidance on what’s available on the market now, for your needs, in your chosen area. At Avasa, we offer free consultation calls for those interested in relocating and becoming tenants in the UK.

2. Tenants start their search too late.

The best advice we can give tenants in the UK is to start your search at least 2 months before you actually wish to move. This will give you more time to select the right property, find an agent and negotiate the best possible deal for you and your family.

Some people leave the search until the last minute and then find themselves in a desperate situation. You will end up having to decide between only a few limited options (if you are lucky) with no time to think about it. This is never a good idea!

At Avasa AI, we have been finding properties for our overseas clients before their arrival. If you want to know how you can do so too, book a free consultation call or check out our services and packages.

3. Tenants don’t pay attention to important things during the property viewing.

When the property is on the market, estate agents doing a viewing will typically only highlight   its most attractive features. Hence, during the viewing it’s important that you look at the property in detail to avoid any unpleasant surprises later. It’s easy to get distracted, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed because you’re juggling so many things during your relocation. The best way to prepare for a viewing  is to have a pre-prepared list of questions so that you can ask the agent about all the things that are important to you before you make any commitment.

Some of the important things to watch out for include:

  • Street noise levels 
  • Any signs of dampness, mould or previous water leakage
  • Water pressure 
  • Security of the building and the neighbourhood
  • Size of the property, especially if it’s unfurnished 
  • Layout of the property
  • Heating system
  • Bills – and what’s included in the rent

You can find out more about everything you need to know when doing viewings by consulting our comprehensive blog.

Don’t skip this step: we can’t emphasise enough how important it is that you have a checklist ready before going to view properties!

4. Tenants do not react quickly enough when placing an offer.

There are cases where tenants don’t know what information is needed when they relocate. Some tenants don’t know what references they need to provide. They fail to notify their employers or previous landlords that someone will call them to check their references, which may result in slow response time. If you want to be in a position to act fast and secure a deal quickly, get your references in order early on! It’s important to know what kind of information will be requested.

5. Tenants do not put important stuff in writing.

If you’re about to place an offer on a property, the most important thing to do is put everything in writing. This may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many people don’t follow this rule! It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and forget things that you’ll later regret.

Putting your requirements on an email will help avoid misunderstandings and give you peace of mind that nothing can be misinterpreted or forgotten.

When placing an offer, it’s important to reconfirm details with the agent or landlord. These details include what pieces of furniture will be provided by the landlord, or if the landlord will replace the carpets, etc.

The offer is a time for negotiation. When making an offer, it’s important to put everything in writing. Things such as monthly rent, length of the tenancy, move-in date, furniture to be provided, or requests for cleaning, refurbishment and other work to be carried out at the property. Putting this into writing, as part of the tenancy agreement, will help to prevent any unpleasant surprises (e.g. cleaning not being done or furniture not being provided if agreed) or disagreements.

6. Tenants don’t follow up with agents as regularly as they should.

It’s a competitive market! Agents receive a huge number of calls, and it’s very easy to get overlooked. So, it’s best to keep on chasing them if you’re not getting through, not getting an answer on the availability of a property, etc.

In particular, if you know that you’re not the ideal tenant for the property.  For example, if you have a pet. If that’s your case, you have to be even more proactive. You want to be the first to  speak with the agent, the first to see the property and the first to make an offer.

Once you’ve made an offer, keep following up until you get confirmation that your offer has been accepted.  If there are multiple bids on the table, they may keep tenants waiting for days before giving them a response. Your mission is to keep calling and try to find out what is holding things up, e.g. if the landlord is abroad and difficult to get hold of, if there’s another offer under consideration or if there’s anything you can do to get the landlord to accept your offer!

7. Tenants don’t read and understand the tenancy agreement thoroughly.

Tenancy agreements can be very tedious and time-consuming to read. Many of them are full of legal terminology that not everyone understands easily. So tenants often just skim through the document or skip it completely, just to get over with it!

But this is a big mistake you should avoid at all costs. There may be terms in your tenancy agreement that you do not understand.  Our recommendation: don’t hold back asking questions, even if you think they’re relatively basic!  It’s critical that you ask for clarifications until you’re comfortable with everything that’s been written.

So do make sure that you fully read and understand your tenancy agreement before signing it, because it’s a legally binding contract!

8. Tenants don’t reconfirm their move-in date.

Always reconfirm the move-in date with your landlord or agent to avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings or delays. If the landlord agreed to complete some repairs or refurbishment, make sure you have full visibility on when these are expected to be completed, i.e. before you move in!

If you don’t do this, you may find yourself having to stay a few extra days in a hotel or book a temporary accommodation at the last minute, until your new home is ready for you to move in.

9. Tenants don’t read the inventory list.

An inventory is a list that is usually made by a third party agency and is presented to both the tenant and the landlord.  It is a complete, itemised list of all the things provided (e.g. furniture, furnishings, kitchen utensils). It also mentions the condition in which the property is being rented out at the beginning of the tenancy (e.g. new carpeting, cracked tiles in the kitchen, wobbly door handle).

Tenants often assume that they don’t need to go through this inventory but this can be costly. As a tenant, you may be required to replace furniture / accessories if they are broken and may be expected to maintain some of the furnishings, depending on your tenancy agreement.

10. Tenants don’t know their rights.

As a tenant in the UK, it’s important to be aware of your rights and your responsibilities.  This will enable you to make more informed decisions and save you money. In addition to making sure you fully understand what’s included in the tenancy agreement before you sign it (see point 7 above), we recommend you keep a written copy of all communication between yourself and the landlord (e.g. emails, letters).

In conclusion

There are many mistakes that tenants make in the UK, which can be avoided if you are well organised and familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. Also, you should always keep in mind that estate agents work for the landlord, hence they will always have their best interest in mind!

For more information or if you have any questions, book a free consultation with one of our relocation experts.

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