Rents are at record highs, averaging £770/mth in Eng and Wales, so we've 50+ Renting Tips to help keep costs down. With house prices up too, now averaging £190,000, this is likely to fuel rental demand. Here's a taster...
|1.||Renters have the right to switch and save on energy bills. If you pay the gas & electricity bill directly (not via your landlord), you're entitled to switch. Some landlords may say you do need permission in your tenancy agreement, but Ofgem says that isn't correct.|
If you're in dispute, print out and show them our landlord energy switching fact sheet. The only exception is where you are changing something physical in the house, eg, switching from a prepaid (key or card) meter to a credit meter - then you will need permission.
To find the cheapest tariff, whether you're on a standard meter or prepaid, use our MSE Cheap Energy Club Comparison to compare across the market and see how much you can save. It can also estimate usage for you.
|2.||Cut your rent by 60% if you're willing to be a property guardian. For singles & couples with flexibility, in exchange for cheap rent, you can babysit empty properties to deter squatters - these can be private homes, fire stations, churches or schools, etc.|
For inspiration, check out forumite MissFox1973's story: "My boyfriend and I were guardians for a huge country estate for eight months. Good points were cheap rent and incredible location. Bad were limited security, and being at the mercy of the property owner."
The cost averages £250/mth (£350/mth in London), so if you fancy getting a monastery or mansion to live in see Property Guardians.
|3.||Grab cheap contents insurance. Renters only need to consider contents, not buildings, cover for their home. This insures the things that'd fall if you turned your home upside down - use a contents calculator to see how much to cover.|
Full help in Cheap Home Insurance - in short:
- Only you/your family live in the home?' Combine Confused.com* & Compare The Market* to bag the max quotes in min time, then check Aviva* and Direct Line*, which they miss.
- If you live in a house- or flat-share. Getting cover can be tricky (a lock on your personal room helps). While Confused.com*, Gocompare* & MoneySup* say they provide flatshare quotes, be careful as sometimes they return quotes that exclude sharers. If you are struggling, specialist insurer Home Protect* may be able to help or use BIBA to find a local broker.
|4.||Are you paying the right council tax? If you live alone you are entitled to a 25% discount, so notify the council, plus students don't count for council tax purposes. So if it's a student-only home there's no council tax - if it's a student and a non-student there's the 25% sole occupancy discount. See council tax discounts info.|
- The tricky 'student with a non-student' scenario. The bill is the responsibility of the non-student, so there's a tricky question of how to split the bill - which is 75% of the full charge. My solution is this...
If the student was with another student they'd pay nowt - and if the non-student was with another non-student they'd pay 50% of the full charge. So split the 25% difference - the student pays 12.5%, the other 62.5%.
Extra tip: Up to 400,000 homes in England & Scotland are in the wrong council tax bands - but in 10 minutes you can check 'n' challenge yours for free, even if you rent. If it's wrong you could claim back cash from 1993 - but courtesy dictates you tell your landlord first. See: Check & Challenge Council Tax
|5.||Furnish for FREE - sofas, beds, TVs & more. If you've gone unfurnished or part-furnished, online giveaway sites can help you for nowt. Some top-quality goodies are available daily for free from web communities such as Freegle & Freecycle.|
|Forumite Pippilongstocking says: "We're a single parent family and have had lots of goodies from Freecycle, including a chest freezer, a sofa bed, various plants, two chooks and a Warhammer. And we've donated a table, telly, bits of bikes, football boots and a couple of other random things." For full help to make the best of it see our How to use giveaway sites tips.|
Alternatively, try getting stuff cheap on eBay. Our local deals mapper finds bargains in your local area ready for pick-up, meaning they're cheaper and subject to fewer bids. Search now: Local eBay Deals Mapper.
|6.||Ensure your landlord is playing their part. They're responsible for...|
(i) Buildings insurance
(ii) Fire alarms, plug sockets, wiring and electricals
(iii) Furniture they've provided - it needs to pass a fire safety certificate
(iv) A safe and working boiler and a gas safety certificate (checks annually)
(v) General upkeep so it's in a safe and liveable standard - they don't have to colour walls bright pink if that's your taste.
If these aren't done, ask your local council's environmental health department for help. It must take action if problems cause harm/nuisance.
Extra tip: If you want to make changes get their permission even for minor things like putting up shelves or repainting. If not, you will need to redecorate when you leave. Don't get hammer-happy putting pictures up - it destroys walls and deposits. Forumites recommend specially-designed picture strips to hold up pics without using damaging nails.
|7.||Check if your deposit is protected - it must be. By law, private landlords must put money into a Govt-backed deposit protection scheme for tenants who moved in from 6 April 2007 in Eng & Wales, but only if you've got the most common type of tenancy, called an 'assured shorthold tenancy' - it should say this on the contract. If unsure, use Shelter's tenancy checker.|
The money is held by the scheme so it's far easier to get it back, and if there's a dispute, there's a free arbitration service. The penalty for a landlord failing to comply with its decision is up to three times the deposit, though this is rare. See Is Your Deposit Protected? for full info incl what to do if it isn't.
|8.||Letting fees can be perverse and nasty. Renters can be hit by huge and unfair fees. Some reported to us include £120 for permission to buy a dog or £60 for photocopying a contract.|
Since November 2013, all letting agencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should include all upfront fees in their ads. There are no regulations on what these charges actually are, but for (limited) options including the various ways to complain, see Fight Unfair Fees.
|9.||You needn't let your landlord in without warning & more quick tips.|
- Landlords must give 24 hours' notice to enter. You can get help from Citizens Advice or the police (if threatened) if not. See: How to vet the landlord
- Take photos so you're not stung on the inventory. Whether highlighting defects or just to prove what's there. Inventory help
- It's one TV licence per tenancy agreement. Joint tenants can share one, but if you've your own tenancy you need your own. TV licence rules
- Renters can switch to a water meter. It might be cheaper if there are more or the same number of bedrooms as people - if you've lived there over 6 months you don't need the landlord's permission. Water meters
- Change your address when moving or risk fines. Don't forget your driving licence, council tax, HMRC, your employer, electoral register, bank accounts, credit cards & more. Change address checklist
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