As a private tenant, you will have good landlords and bad ones. There is not much you can do when it comes to the person at the other end of your Tenancy Agreement, but there are things you can do as a tenant to keep things positive and maintain a good relationship with the person who you rent from. Figuring out how to be a good tenant goes even a step further than that, helping you build positive relationships with your neighbours and the other people in your community. There is a lot of incentive to consciously do what you can to be a good tenant, and fortunately, it is really not all that difficult. Here is where to start.
First things First
Be honest in your application
There is a lot of competition out there for properties. Be truthful. Saying you do not have a pet, or that you do not intend to have a partner living with you when you really do may not seem like big issues, but they are likely to catch up with you. And as with pretty much everything else in life, honesty is the best policy when you are wanting to be a good tenant, and it all starts with your application.
MAKE SURE YOU READ IT! Knowing what you are agreeing to before you sign your agreement is crucial for being a good tenant. There may be something in there that you would not otherwise know to adhere to, such as noise regulations that state you can not play loud music after 10:00pm or rules around how to make sure you get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy. The more well versed you are in the (legally-binding) agreement between you and your landlord, the better tenant you are going to be.
Before you get the keys to your property, you should sign a tenancy agreement. This document sets out the expectations of both you and your landlord. One right you have is to see the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This tells you how energy efficient the home is on a scale from A to G and lets you know how costly it will be to heat and light. Seeing this certificate can help you to budget more accurately. Legally, as of April 2018, all rental properties must achieve a rating of at least E before a new tenancy is granted.
You also have the right to:
- be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rental increases
- have your deposit protected in an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme
- get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy, as long as you meet your responsibilities as a tenant
- live in a property that’s in a good state of repair and is safe, this includes the right to electrical and gas safety certificates
- quiet enjoyment, unless the landlord requests to do an inspection - for which you should receive sufficient notice ahead of the appointment (24 hours except in emergency)
Your responsibilities as a tenant include:
- paying the rent on time
- taking care to avoid damaging the property
- providing they give you sufficient notice, allow your landlord access to conduct inspections and to do any necessary maintenance work
- paying all other bills and charges as specified in your tenancy agreement
- reporting any problems with the property (for example mould or broken windows) to your landlord in good time so that they can arrange for these problems to be fixed
- not sub-letting the property unless your tenancy agreement says you can
Do not rent more than you can afford. The Housing Team here will do an income and expenditure assessment with you to help understand how much you can afford. Always make sure the rent is affordable for you before you sign the tenancy. Only you really know how much you will be comfortable spending every month, but part of being a good tenant is renting within your means. Even when that means you do not get that huge garden or location you really want.
Pay your rent
Paying your rent, and paying it on time, will go a long way towards maintaining a strong relationship during your tenancy.
Did you know...
Your Landlord can get your Universal Credit housing element paid directly to them! They can do this online, or just come and speak to one of our Tenancy Support team who will be able to help them do this.
Treat it like you own it
Taking good care of your property paves the way for friendly relations and more flexibility from your landlord. Landlords are often amenable to property modifications and updates requested by tenants if they improve the value of the property or will extend your tenure significantly. Landlords who know you treat the property well are far more likely to approve these requests. You can even offer to do the work yourself and make home improvements without breaking your lease.
Treating the property well also ensures that you get your deposit back when it comes time to move. While normal wear and tear is to be expected in rental units, avoid causing any significant damage to the property. The line between “normal wear and tear” and “damage” is a blurry one, but as a rule:
Damage is caused by a single incident (such as a red wine spill on the carpet), while normal wear and tear is gradual (such as a slight dis-colouration on the carpet where there is the most foot traffic).
Expect the cost of damage to come out of your deposit, and to be a sure fire recipe to distress your landlord. And if the damage you cause is higher than your security deposit, you are legally liable for it.
Keep it clean
Cleanliness in both your property and any shared common areas is a hugely important quality of a good tenant and neighbour. Landlords want tenants who will take good care of their properties and leave them exactly as they found them. While normal wear and tear is acceptable, it is on you to ensure that you do your part to keep the space clean and in good condition. That is not to say you have to deep clean your property once a week if it is not in your nature, but be reasonable about how clean you keep your unit, and always be as neat and tidy as possible in the common spaces, both indoor and outdoor.
Let them know
While you may think your landlord does not want to be bothered with maintenance requests, it is much more preferable for them to know about, and fix, a problem as soon as it happens rather than let it fester and potentially turn into something else. This is especially true if it is a problem with heating, cooling, or leaking, all of which can get more difficult and expensive to solve the longer the problem goes on. If something is broken, let your landlord know so that he or she can address it.
Get permission before bringing in a new pet. Landlords do not like pets because they cause greater wear and tear and add a greater risk of damage. It is not personal, and it is not because they hate animals. If your lease prohibits pets, call your landlord to negotiate an exception, just as you would with any other tenancy clause change. If your landlord still resists, you can offer to pay an extra pet deposit, a small monthly pet rent, or a non-refundable one-time pet deposit. What you should never do is sneak a pet into your rental. Besides the fact that it is dishonest, your landlord will find out sooner or later. When they discover you broke the terms of your tenancy, they are far more likely to issue you notice.
Put felt pads on all furniture feet. Flooring is expensive, and it scratches and tears easily. One of the things that homeowners remember to do but tenants often do not is protecting the floors from their furniture. For the cost of a few pounds, a pack of adhesive felt pads and five minutes of sticking them on the bottom of furniture feet, and you can protect your places flooring from scratches which could otherwise come out of your deposit.
Making an effort to be a good tenant is pretty much always in your best interest. It will make your tenancy go a whole lot smoother, and it will also make your landlord much more likely to give you a good reference when it is time to move on to your next private rent. In general, treat your place as you would treat your own house and treat the people around you as you would like to be treated. It is easy to do, and appreciated by all.