/ Rent Revolution 🔑

To rent or not to rent?

That is the question. And to help crack the code, Pad got in touch with the Evening Standard’s ‘Accidental Landlord’ columnist Victoria Whitlock.

There’s been such a lot of talk in the media of tenants being ripped off by greedy landlords and forced to live in squalid conditions, that you’d be forgiven for thinking renting is an expensive, miserable existence. But for the majority of tenants, renting is a much more positive, enjoyable experience.

Most of the tenants I meet like where they are living. They enjoy the flexibility that renting offers and they appreciate the freedom to relocate quickly and easily; possibly to take up new job opportunities or simply to explore different areas. I’ve had one or two tenants tell me that renting has given them the chance to live in the style of property that they could never afford to buy, or in a pricier postcode than where they’ll eventually settle.

accidentallandlord

Those in house shares often seem to like the chance to meet new people and, hopefully, new friends. In one of my rental flats, all of the housemates who were strangers before they moved in, now get along so well that they went on holiday together last summer.

Yes, renting can be expensive in some cities where property prices are high, but on the plus side, tenants have the relief of knowing they can leave all the hassle and costs of maintaining their homes to someone else. As a tenant, you’ll never get a nasty bill for a new roof or an expensive boiler repair and if something breaks, all you have to do is contact the landlord or letting agent. With Pad-managed properties it’s even easier because all maintenance requests are logged quickly and easily on an app.

More than a fifth of households in the UK now rent from private landlords, and many have a good relationship. When friction between a landlord or letting agent and tenant arises, it’s usually caused by lack of communication, a misunderstanding, or unrealistic expectations. You can avoid this by reading your tenancy agreement to make sure you understand your rights and your obligations, and, just as importantly, where your landlord’s responsibilities end and yours begin. For instance, landlords are legally obliged to maintain sanitary ware, but if you block the sink, you’ll probably have to pay the plumber’s bill!

My main advice to ensure a happy tenancy would be to take your time choosing a property and don’t rush into putting in an offer until you’ve considered whether it’s really suitable. You can search for properties straight from your smartphone with Pad and select only the ones that tick all the boxes.

Two bicycles parked near house with vine climbing up its walls

When you view a property, look carefully to see how well it has been maintained because if there is a lot of wear and tear, chances are the landlord or letting agent might not be very responsive to requests for repairs. If a property is shabby when you view it, it’s likely to be just as shabby when you move in.

There’s nothing wrong with making an offer on a property conditional upon certain improvements being made, but if you do expect the landlord to make some changes, you should get this agreed in writing before you sign the tenancy agreement. One of my biggest bugbears is tenants demanding extra furniture or appliances weeks after they’ve moved in.

I’ve heard it said that tenants live in constant fear of eviction, but landlords don’t evict good tenants for no reason. All we expect is that you pay your rent on time, don’t cause any damage, and let us know of any maintenance issues as soon as possible. That said, if you’re handy with a toolkit and capable of sorting out minor repairs yourself without bothering the landlord, you’ll certainly score Brownie points, which might help when negotiating next year’s rent!