Check that the tenancy deposit you’re being asked for is not more than 5 weeks’ worth of rent (where annual rent is less than £50,000) or 6 weeks’ rent (where annual rent is more than £50,000).
You may be offered a deposit replacement product as an alternative to a cash deposit.
A landlord or agent cannot require you to use a deposit replacement product but may allow it as an option without breaking the Tenant Fees Act. There are several different deposit replacement products available on the market. Depending on the product, you may be required to pay a non-refundable fee up-front (often equivalent to one week’s rent) and/or a monthly payment for the duration of your tenancy. With most products you will still be responsible for the costs of any damages incurred at the end of the tenancy or required to pay an excess on any claim for damages or unpaid rent. It is strongly advised to always check the terms and conditions and to see if it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Length of tenancy
There is usually a fixed period of 6 or 12 months. If you want more security, it may be worth asking whether the landlord is willing to agree to a longer fixed period. Alternatively, you may be offered a weekly or monthly assured shorthold tenancy which does not last for a fixed period. Even with those tenancies, however, the landlord must allow you to stay in the property for a minimum of 6 months.
Smoking and pets
Check if there are any rules about them, as well as for other things such as keeping a bike, dealing with refuse and recycling.
Check who is responsible for bills such as electricity, gas, water and council tax. You or your landlord? Usually the tenant pays for these.
Fixtures and fittings
Check you are happy with them, as it is unlikely that you will be able to get them changed once you have moved in.
Smoke alarms – and carbon monoxide detectors
Landlords must have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of a property they let out. In addition, if you have solid fuel appliances like wood burning stoves or open fires, check carbon monoxide detectors must be provided. If not, your landlord must install them. They could save your life.
Check that the property is safe to live in. Use the How to rent a safe home to help you identify possible hazards.
Fitness for human habitation
Your property must be safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. You should also check whether your tenancy agreement excuses you from paying rent should the building become unfit to live in because of, for example, a fire or flood.