More people are renting in the UK than ever before. If you are a private renter, you may have felt uncertain during the world’s recent crisis, but things are starting to improve and return to normal. As we are beginning to come out of lockdown, there are a number of things you need to remember as a tenant. With renting in general, especially if you are looking to find a new property, there can be a lot of unanswered questions and at times it can feel quite overwhelming. Therefore, to help you, the specialist team at Hancock and Partners have compiled some valuable tips that will help you as a renter. 

Rent payments

As much as the situation can be difficult for some tenants, it is important to stick with the good habits you established when it comes to paying your rent. If you default on rent payments, this could mean that certain properties would no longer be available to you when things return to some level of normality, as landlords may never recover financially from missed rental income. Landlords do not currently have any way of enforcing payments as repossessions have been halted during the early phases of lockdown, although evictions can be heard in court from the end of August according to latest government advice. 

Once you have signed a tenancy agreement,  it is very important that you keep to it and make regular payments. The government has said that you should continue to pay your rent as normal and if you are unable to, you should speak to your letting agent or landlord as soon as possible. 

  • Rent arrears

In the unfortunate situation that you may not be able to keep up with your rent payments, your letting agent or landlord should be contacted at the earliest possibility. Landlords should offer support and understanding to tenants who may start to see their income fluctuate. By making them aware of the situation as soon as possible, this can help both parties to agree a plan, such as accepting a lower level of rent or agreeing a plan to pay off arrears at a later date. 

Advice is also available from specialist providers such as Shelter, Citizens Advice and The Money Advice Service. As each tenant’s circumstance is different and some will be worse affected, landlords should be flexible and prepared to have these difficult conversations with their tenants, to allow both parties to agree a sensible way forward.

Maintenance issues

Tenants always have the right to a decent, warm and safe place to live. Therefore, it is in the best interest of both the landlord and tenant to ensure their properties are well maintained, kept in good repair and free from hazards. If you are having issues in your home, be sure to inform your letting agent or landlord. Your landlord can then arrange for repairs, whilst being cautious if anyone in your home is ‘shielding’ or ‘self-isolating’.

As the restrictions are slowly being lifted, it is important to be aware that some repairs may take more time to complete as additional measures have to be in place to maintain complete safety for tradespeople and tenants alike.  As a tenant you will need to conduct certain safety measures, such as cleaning the area before and after the repair work, avoiding any face to face contact wherever possible. 

Tenancy renewals

Landlords and tenants should be working together to ensure that both parties can come together and establish a mutually beneficial agreement when it comes to renewals. For example, if coronavirus means you’re unsure of your circumstances in the coming months, ask for a periodic tenancy. This is a tenancy agreement which rolls on a weekly or monthly basis with no end date. Unlike a fixed term tenancy, a tenant’s notice must end on the first or last day of a tenancy period and you need to comply with your agreement regarding notice periods. You can usually end a periodic tenancy by giving your landlord one month’s notice, but this needs to be in writing to your landlord or their managing agent.

Alternatively, you can renew your tenancy with another fixed term contract if the landlord agrees. The tenancy terms may not be exactly the same as your current fixed term tenancy, but you have the opportunity to negotiate with the landlord if there’s anything you’re unhappy with. From 1st June 2020, you can’t be charged a fee for a renewal agreement even if your existing agreement says you can.

How can Hancock and Partners help you? 

If you are a tenant looking to find a new rental property, renew your tenancy or even looking to purchase your dream home, you should contact the dedicated team at Hancock and Partners. We were established back in 1991 and have since become a leading independent estate agency, with one of the largest lettings’ portfolios in Chichester. With our 100 years of combined experience we can provide you with the very best advice, securing you a successful outcome – no matter what you are looking to achieve. 

Are you looking to find out how we can assist? You are welcome to give us a call on 01243 531111, or you can complete the contact form on our website and we will be on hand to advise as soon as possible. You can benefit greatly from speaking to our knowledgeable property professionals and take positive steps on your renting or buying journey.