Our Tenants Guide
There are a lot of fantastic houses and flats to rent in St Albans, but where do you start? If this is your first time renting, or if you need a refresher on how to rent a new property, our tenant’s guide below covers everything you need to know.
Review your budget
There are a number of costs involved with renting, with the biggest outgoing every month being rental costs. But when reviewing your budget, it is best to work backwards to see how much you can afford.
For example, take into account costs like:
Landline/Mobile phone charges
Any other bills you pay each month
You will also have to consider the initial deposit required before moving in. For annual rents less than £50,000 the maximum you will have to pay is 5 week’s rent. This will be in addition to one month’s rent in advance also being payable.
Once you see the amount you have left over, then you can think about how much you can afford and what type of property is available for that cost. However, it is important to ensure you can live ‘comfortably’ within your budget each month, as spending every penny on rent and bills does not leave much room for financial flexibility.
You should also be aware of all tenancy fees associated with renting a property such as a late payment fee if you don’t pay your rent on time, fees associated with contract variation and a fee for ending your tenancy early. A full list of tenancy fees can be found here.
Start your property search
Think about the type of property you’d like to rent within your budget and how your preferred area in St Albans is able to support your lifestyle. Consider things such as:
Rental costs: Where you live will dictate costs (city centres being the most expensive) along with the number of bedrooms and features that come with the property. Do you want a garden? Off-street parking? Furniture included? Do you want it near the city centre or further out?
Local amenities: Think about the local shops available and their accessibility. What are local schools like? Are transport links good enough, how much will it cost? What is the crime rate like? Is there a doctors/dentist nearby?
Nightlife: Are there bars and restaurants available? Parks and green spaces? Cinemas, theatres or other activities you can enjoy without travelling too far?
If it’s a new area, try visiting first to get a feel of what it would be like living there. It’s also a good idea to get insight from anyone you know who might own or rent in the area.
When you find some properties you like, it’s always worth viewing them in person to see whether they are right for you. Photographs on property portals and estate agent sites are great to give you an idea of what the property looks like, but you’ll only know whether the property is completely right for you by physically being inside it.
Finding a good estate agent
An estate agent can make the renting process a lot easier, compared to going direct to a landlord. They also offer more legal protection, ensuring your money and health and safety is prioritised during your tenancy.
At Daniels, we have over 25 years’ experience in helping tenants find and rent their ideal property in St Albans. We are members of professional industry bodies such as The Property Ombudsman, ARLA Propertymark and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, so you can be reassured that you will receive the highest standard of service which follows all regulations and protocols.
Whether you’re looking to rent a flat in St Albans city centre or a larger home in London Colney, our lettings team are experts in the local rental market and will help you find the perfect property. We are always on hand throughout your tenancy to solve any issues which may occur such as repairs and endeavour to get any problems fixed as efficiently as possible.
When visiting a property be sure to look at things like:
Condition: Ensure fixtures and fittings are in good condition, along with any furniture. Check for mould, damp, drafts and any cracks or holes on walls, especially around windows and areas where moisture can gather. Ensure the lights, toilets and taps all work.
Features: is there single or double glazing installed? What is Wi-Fi like? Are there internet/cable TV connections? Where can you park your vehicle?
Safety: By law, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms must be installed on every floor. Furniture must also meet the required fire safety standards.
Energy: Ask what the EPC rating of the property is. By law it must be no lower than E.
Utilities: Before you move in gas and electrical checks must be conducted to ensure they are safe to use and live with.
It’s also worth asking questions such as – Can I redecorate? Am I allowed pets? Can I hang up paintings or photographs? etc. Usually, a landlord may allow you to do some redecoration such as a lick of paint but may not want holes in the walls from paintings you’ve hung up, so it’s worth checking. It’s also worth noting that there is usually a higher deposit required if the landlord does allow you to have a pet in the property.
Please note that all our rental properties are non-smoking lets.
When you make an offer on a property you will have to undergo referencing and credit checks before the tenancy agreement can be signed and paperwork processed.
This will include checking things like previous addresses (usually for the past 3-5 years) along with references from previous landlords.
A Right to Rent check also has to be carried out by law, which ensures you have a legal right to live in the UK and that you are over 18, which means providing hard copies of proof of ID.
The credit check will want to verify you are credit worthy and are likely to be a reliable tenant who will be able to pay rent on time every month.
Employment information will also be required, so salaries can be confirmed and references sought, if needed.
You will also have to provide bank account details for direct debit payments of rent. If any part of the referencing process fails you may not be able to proceed, although the landlord may be open to negotiation and different terms.
Throughout the referencing process, our team will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. We use Van Mildert for our tenant referencing and credit checks.
Deposits and tenancy agreements
If successful, you put down a holding deposit to take the property off the market. Only do this if you are sure you want the property as you may not be able to reclaim it if you change your mind. This will usually be around one week’s worth of rent.
Deposit requirements will have to be considered and must be placed into one of four government-backed schemes. At Daniels we use the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Once paid, the landlord must deposit it within 30 days and provide you with full details.
You should also take time to review the tenancy agreement. This will detail all of the legal responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant, such as payment dates, length of contract, repair and maintenance, taking care of the property and more.
With everything signed and arranged you can now prepare to move in on the agreed date. Set up a standing order for the rent and give your current landlord notice that you are leaving.
Sign the tenancy agreement once you have double checked and asked any questions about the contents, returning a copy to us.
When the inventory check-in happens make sure you are present to sign everything off and verify the condition of the property and contents, and close to the move in date you’ll receive the keys so you can move in.
Looking to rent a property in St Albans?
If you’re thinking of renting a flat or house in St Albans, get in touch with our friendly estate agent team today. We can discuss your property requirements and email across some suitable properties for you. Alternatively, you can browse our available properties to rent online.