Tips for first-time tenants

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty advises first-time renters on the most important things they need to consider before renting a property
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Question: I just left college and want to rent my first flat. I have heard lots of horror stories about renting, so can you tell me what the most important things are for me to consider when I rent?

Answer: The landlord or the landlord's letting agent are likely to offer you an assured shorthold tenancy, which is the most common type of tenancy as it allows the landlord to get the property back after six months if the landlord wishes - provided you are given two months' notice. Most landlords will grant another tenancy once the first ends.

Firstly, read the tenancy agreement and if you are not happy with it, seek advice from a solicitor, Citizens Advice Bureau, housing advice centre or law centre.

Secondly, if the tenancy is a shorthold tenancy the landlord must protect any deposit that you have paid them. They do this by ensuring that they register the deposit with a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.

Thirdly, arrange a check-in appointment. Take an independent witness with you. A document should be produced that both you and the landlord sign describing the condition of the property and its contents. Dated photographs are useful.

Also, report any problems with the property to your landlord or agent immediately both verbally and in writing, and keep copies of all your paperwork.

What’s your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email, or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Fiona is a partner in the private client property practice of Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons LLP. (

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