Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

It might seem a bit odd, reviewing a book advising tenant’s on how to be successful at renting, not at first sight a perfect match for a landlord site like this. But if you think about it, renting is just the opposite side of the coin, a mirror image, sorry to mix metaphors, to letting, which gives insights into the thinking on both sides – not that we should be taking sides or seeing this as a, “us and them” game.

Tenants' Guide To Successful Renting

In letting property there’s no substitute for experience; letting to multiple tenants over many years gives this in spades, so an experienced landlord and author like David Lawrenson has a mine of information and insights to share, and his ideas of what makes a perfect tenant is something worth learning about, especially if you are prospective tenant, seeking to secure a tenancy against a lot of competition, plus the book gives some useful insights for landlords as well.

In a landlords’ market, just like an employers’ market, tenants just like employees must shine through if they are to be successful in securing that desirable well located tenancy. Tenants should approach getting a tenancy just like a job interview, doing some research, putting themselves in the landlord’s shoes, and thinking carefully about how to present themselves to respectable landlords and letting agents.

Most tenants are totally unaware of what’s involved in being a landlord, the effort that goes into preparing the property, the documentation and the marketing of a rental each time there’s a change of tenancy. They are also usually unfamiliar with the concept of what a tenancy actually means in law, their rights and responsibilities under it, and those of their landlord.

The ideal tenant is one that looks after the property, pays rent on time, and has a good relationship with the landlord: this mean being courteous and only reporting genuine repairs. The ideal landlord presents the property in excellent condition, provides good facilities, leaves the tenant alone to enjoy the property, deals with repairs requests promptly and is courteous at all times.

Mr Lawrenson starts his book with a nice summary of the history of the private rented sector in the UK, “…so you can appreciate why things are perhaps as they are”. The book continues with a section on selecting the right type of property, spelling out the characteristics of different types of rentals, the need for careful financial planning and making sure the running costs such as heating and energy efficiency meet the budget.

An important section on credit checks gives the lowdown on what these mean, and how tenants can manage their finances so that they keep a good score. This is followed by important sections on viewing etiquette and the important things to look for when viewing, even down to tips on taking care of your personal safety on viewings.

Most important of all, for a tenant, is getting “under the skin” of landlords and letting agents, understanding perfectly what they are looking for and what attracts them to a particular tenant. Just as important perhaps, is knowing how to avoid the “fakes and flakes” as Lawrenson puts it. Scams are common these days in lettings, especially on the Internet, so knowing about these in advance is a bonus.

Important information on Letting Fees, Inventories, Deposit Schemes, a good summary of the ins and outs of tenancy laws and Letting Agreements, plus details about Housing Benefit, all important points of information essential to a smooth letting experience are provided in easy to follow and understandable – to the layperson – language.

Lots more information is provided on the important points to be aware of about the management aspects of the property; safety checks, the tenant’s responsibilities in looking after the property, plus how to deal with the end of a tenancy. A section dealing specifically with multiple housing and student tenant’s needs will be especially appreciated by new students and their parents.

All-in-all this book covers a surprising amount of material, all very relevant to tenants of all stripes, in an easily digested 250 pages, and accompanied by its own website:

Tom Entwistle

Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.



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