UK Easy Rental Advice
Rent a Room
|LIVING IN A STUDIO, FLAT, APARTMENT OR HOUSE|
Lifestyle, Advice, Problems & Solutions
If you are living in a studio, flat or house, you will have signed a tenancy agreement and you will invariably be paying your rent by bank standing order. Payments will be made on time and automatically. Your only responsibility is to ensure that your bank account contains enough funds when each payment is due.
Remember, non payment caused by lack of funds in your account is an infringement of a major clause in your tenancy agreement. If you don't rectify the situation immediately the landlord is entitled to take legal steps towards repossessing the property.
In other words you will be asked to leave !!!
If you are living in a studio, flat or house you will probably have chosen to pay all the utility bills by standing order . Payments will be made on time and automatically. Your only responsibility is to ensure that your bank account contains enough funds when each payment is due.
Non payment caused by lack of funds in your account will initially result in you receiving a reminder or warning letter from the utility company that hasn't been paid. Refusal to pay will ultimately result in the utility company appointing a debt collector to recover the unpaid monies. You may think that by moving out to a new address you will escape paying what you owe. You would be wrong. Debt collection agencies have extremely powerful techniques allowing them to trace debtors, regardless of change of address.
So, the message is simple. Don't get behind with your payments. Don't get into debt !!!
Sharing a flat or house has one major advantage. The rent paid, per person, will be cheaper when you share a property than when you live in it alone. But it is essential that you understand the legal implications of sharing.
If you are renting a property then you will have signed a tenancy agreement before you moved in. If you are sharing then at least one person will have signed the tenancy agreement. Normally the tenancy agreement will have been jointly signed by all members of the group of sharers, in which case the sharers are jointly liable for the payment of rent. How you split the rent payment up amongst the members of the group is entirely up to you to decide, as is the actual payment mechanism. Do you set up one standing order to pay the total rent, or do you set up several standing orders, one for each group member, which when added together, make up the total rent? Either system is usually acceptable but at the end of the day the landlord, or agent, is only interested in ensuring that he receives the total rent due every month.
The situation is more complicated if only some of the sharers have signed the tenancy agreement. For example, if four people rent a house, but only two names are on the tenancy agreement, then those who have signed are responsible for paying the rent. Those who have not signed are not under any legal obligation to pay rent. Any internal rent sharing agreement between the various sharers is an informal agreement and is not legally binding in any way. You can now see that in this kind of situation it is important to choose the people with whom you share your home very carefully. Trust and reliability are absolutely essential. If a sharer who has not signed the tenancy agreement "disappears" for any reason, the landlord will still expect the total rent to be paid every month.
At some point during the tenancy you may feel you need to find an extra person to fill a vacant room, and/or to reduce the rent paid per person.
Your best choice would be a friend or perhaps some one recommended by a friend.
If you cannot find a friend to share with and you plan to advertise on the Internet, or elsewhere, to find a flatmate, take extreme care.
This practice can be very risky so I recommend that you read the section -
Sharing a flat or house can be an enjoyable experience when everything is going well. But there are some potential problems. You will lose a certain degree of privacy. There may be an increased risk of theft, especially if your flatmate or flatmates are not a close friends. And you and your flatmates will have to be tolerant of each other's lifestyles and everyday habits.
If some, or all, of the rooms in your flat or house are on the ground floor, remember to close all windows, and perhaps shut the curtains when you leave the building. If your laptop, for example, is visible to a stranger passing outside your window, the risk of a break-in and theft is obvious. Take care of all your valuable possessions - cash, debit and credit cards, personal documents, mobile phones, digital cameras, etc. The risk of theft is obviously greater if you share the flat or house with a person whom you don't know very well. Better to be safe than sorry.
Since you will be paying for your own gas and/or electricity, you will be keen to save energy. Switch off lights and heating when you go out. Don't use excessive amounts of hot water for washing up. Don't fill the kettle to the top when you only intend to make one cup of coffee. Don't overheat rooms and then, when you find you are feeling too hot, open the windows. In winter keep the windows shut when you are not at home, and perhaps keep the curtains closed. Both these measures will prevent unnecessary heat loss.
The above advice is really just common sense but you will be surprised how much it can affect your gas and/or electricity bills.
If you take care of your rented home it will not only be a more pleasant place to live in but also you will avoid the possibility of deductions from your deposit when you move out at the end of the tenancy. Regular cleaning is strongly advised. Prompt replacement or repair of items that you have damaged or lost is also recommended. If you are renting a house or flat with a garden, make sure you know who is responsible for maintaining and tidying the garden. It may be you, rather than the landlord. It is surprising how quickly a garden can become overgrown due to neglect. It is always better to do these jobs on a regular basis rather than let them build up, leaving you with an impossible amount of hard work to do when you are about to move out.
If you rent a studio, flat or house, repairs and maintenance are generally the reponsiblity of the landlord and/or agent. If the shower breaks down or the sink starts leaking, contact the landlord, or agent, to arrange a repair. It is generally the landlord's liability to pay for a repair unless he can prove that the problem has been brought about by misuse. Unfortunately, if the landlord fails to carry out essential repairs promptly, you cannot use this as an excuse for non-payment or late payment of rent. Try to be patient and diplomatic.
If you are happy in your new home you will want to renew the tenancy at the end of the period, usually six months or twelve months. Discuss this with the landlord or agent at least a month before the tenancy expires. If the landlord or agent agrees to renewing the tenancy, you will be asked to sign a new tenancy agreement. If the landlord or agent wants you to move out at the end of the period he is legally required to serve you with a notice requiring possession, at least two months before the end of the tenancy.
If for any reason you want to move out at the end of the tenancy, you should give the landlord or agent at least one month's notice. For more information on the process of moving out, check out the section - Moving Out.
PAYING THE RENT
PAYING THE BILLS
SHARING A FLAT OR HOUSE
SECURITY & THEFT
TAKING CARE OF YOUR HOME
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE
RENEWING THE TENANCY