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Residential Land, Prime Central London’s largest private landlord, put together some useful tips for people looking to Rent in London that were published on homesandproperty.co.uk…

Make sure your deposit is protected
Tenancy deposit law was introduced on 6 April 2007 and provides protection for tenants by preventing landlords and letting agents from unfairly withholding a deposit. The scheme protects all Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales. Ensuring your deposit is protected allows you extra comfort for when your tenancy ends and you want to move on. As long as rent and services are paid up to date and the property is in the same condition as when you moved in (allowing for wear and tear) your landlord is obliged to give back your deposit, this is usually within ten working days of moving out.

Speak up – if you don’t ask you won’t get
Remember to communicate with your landlord or managing agent – don’t be shy in reporting any difficulties in your rental property. Landlords are obliged to fix these problems at no cost to you as one of the privileges of being a tenant. A good landlord will also appreciate knowing if something needs doing – after all, it is their investment you live in.

Check out the hidden agency costs
Letting agents will charge you certain costs before you move into a property. These costs include charges for checking your references, preparation of inventory, drawing up tenancy agreements, administration costs, etc. They can amount to £200-£500, depending on the area, agency and property. Be aware that agents should not charge you for looking at properties or holding your details.

Location, location, location
Ensure that your rental property is commutable to work, close to friends and places where you socialize. You may find the perfect property but it could be a long walk from the tube station – fine in the summer, but no so nice on a wet, dark evening – leaving some with the added expense of taxis. There will be compromises with any property rental so you need to ensure that the ones that you make are right for you long term.

Check out the living costs
Remember that rent is not your only outgoing so it is sensible to put together a budget to ensure that your rental is affordable. In most properties you will be responsible for water rates, gas central heating, electricity, contents insurance, television license and of course council tax. Ask the lettings agent or landlord for an estimated cost of these bills so that you can ensure that they are affordable. For council tax costs you can visit www.voa.gov.uk to find out what banding your property will be in.

Check if parking is available
If you have a car in London you know the difficulties of parking. If a private parking space comes with the property that’s all well and good, but if it doesn’t, remember to ask about the opportunities to get residents parking. The majority of properties allow you to apply for a residents parking permit for a small charge by visiting the local council offices with a copy of your tenancy agreement and your vehicle registration details. However, be careful, as some newly built properties only have permission for the council to offer less parking permits than there are units in the property – it is worth checking this with the landlord or agent before moving in.

Ensure the landlord has the correct documents before you move in
Not only is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme essential but there are also further legal requirements that your landlord must meet. Your landlord must obtain and show you a Gas Safety Certificate and an Energy Performance Certificate. Building Insurance is also obligatory and this should be mentioned in your tenancy agreement. It is advisable that you take out your own contents insurance as your landlord will not be obliged to provide this for you.

Carefully comb through the tenancy agreement and inventory
You are responsible for looking through the tenancy agreement and inventory before you sign. Make sure you understand each clause and that the inventory is accurate. It is wise to have a third party look at it too, so ask a friend or family member to read through it and let you know if they have any queries. It is also important that a third party witnesses the tenancy agreement when you come to sign.

Be careful of false adverts on the internet
We have all heard about the terrible situations where people are falsely rented properties over the internet only to find out when arriving to view or even move in that not only is the property not available but that they have lost their deposit. To combat this, ensure that you use a reputable agent or landlord who have established offices – do not agree to send money anywhere without meeting someone and viewing the property. Also, remember that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.