Q. I am about to rent a property for the first time. As a tenant, do I have any responsibilities, and if so, what are they?
Renting a property that is owned by someone else obviously offers a great deal of freedom, but it does indeed come with certain responsibilities. It’s important to know what these are, in order to ensure that you can enjoy life in your rented home to the full.
While some of these responsibilities are fairly universal in nature and application, others will vary from property to property. So, the best way to be absolutely clear about such matters is to have your solicitor go through the tenancy agreement and spell them all out for you.
That said, the professional body for the lettings industry, the Association of Residential Letting Agents also offers the following general tips:
• Contents Insurance. While landlords are normally responsible for insuring the building and any furnishings that come with it, tenants need to insure their own possessions.
• Last one out…If you are planning to leave the property vacant for a period of time during the life of the tenancy, then it is important to ensure that the last one to leave (which will obviously be you if you live alone!) prepares the property accordingly - for example, by turning off electrical appliances, emptying and cleaning the fridge, turning off the water supply, etc. It’s also worth noting that many tenancy agreements require the landlord to be informed if a property is to be left empty for any length of time.
• Fixtures and fittings. It is the tenant’s responsibility to look after these. While reasonable wear and tear is to be expected, it is important to inform the landlord immediately of any damage, accidental or otherwise. Having a detailed inventory will clearly help resolve any issues here.
• Sharing emergency numbers – for example, your own mobile and your managing agent’s - with your neighbours is a good precaution, particularly in the case of flats, where a problem in one property can rapidly cause problems in other homes in the block.
• And finally…on moving out day, be sure to remove or otherwise dispose of everything that you yourself brought into the property during your tenancy. If you do want to leave anything, you must get your landlord’s prior agreement.