How to avoid getting caught out by renting costs

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Renting a home is a lot more than eyeing up a property and managing the rental payments. More times than not, it involves hefty upfront costs that you'll need to budget for (I learnt the hard way). So, before you commit, here's a round-up of the costs that are associated with moving into a rental property so you don't get caught out.

Agency fees

If you're not renting privately (directly with a landlord) then you'll probably be forking out for agency fees to a lettings agent. These fees cover the administration costs of inventory checks/reference checks and/or drawing up or renewing contracts.

Don't assume that just because your agent hasn't mentioned the charges that they don't exist. Agencies can charge over £500 in fees, so be sure to ask the question! When you show your interest in a property, make sure you ask about any associated costs, as it should factor into your decision about whether that property is affordable for you.

Deposit

Typically, a rental deposit is between 4-6 weeks rent. This is likely to be in the hundreds or thousands of pounds and you'll need to provide the funds upfront of your move. Usually you'll receive an inventory report when you move which will record the state of the property when you moved in. Provided there's no damage and you've taken care of the property to maintain it, then you should get your deposit back at the end of your tenancy.

Some local councils run schemes that help you afford a deposit, you can check if yours does here. Bear in mind not all landlords and lettings agents accept deposits of this kind - so do your research first.

Advance rent

In addition to the deposit, some landlords will ask you for the first month or few weeks rent upfront.

Again, it's important that you're aware of costs like this ahead of any final decision. Ask the right questions about the conditions of securing the property so you're not caught unawares and needing to find some quick cash.

Removal fees

By far the cheapest way of doing this is to hire a moving van and bribe your family and friends with pizza. When that fails, you might need to consider removal firms. Compare local firms and choose the best deal, make sure the one you choose is insured as an extra precaution.

Furnished vs Unfurnished

It sounds obvious but sometimes in the excitement of a new place, we forget to ask the obvious questions. Just because you view a property when there's furniture in place doesn't mean it will still be there on moving day. If the property is, in fact, unfurnished, then you'll have to pay for any furniture you need.

Equally, if you're moving to a furnished property but you have your own furniture then be aware that your landlord may charge you for the removal/storage of any furniture that came with the property.

Cleaning fees

If you're moving from a rental property, your contract will usually require that you leave the property in a clean enough state for the next tenant to move in.

In most cases, this will mean covering the costs of a professional cleaning service. Again, these rarely come cheap. Depending on the size of the property, the cost of this service will be in the hundreds so shop around and find the best deal.

BEWARE: Taking on this job yourself may not be up to landlord's expectations and you may face charges that are higher than a professional cleaning service (that - and you wasted days cleaning for no reason)

Council Tax

The amount of Council Tax you pay is dependent on the area you are living in. So, it's possible that the area you're moving to is more expensive than where you're coming from. Check out the charges using your postcode for your new area before you move so you can work it into your budget. Use this too on the GOV.uk website to enter your postcode and see what tax bracket your new home will put you in.

There's various payment schemes for Council Tax, some of which are cheaper options than others. For example, if you pay your tax via direct debit then you might benefit from lower costs. Have a look into what payment terms are available and which work best for you.

Utilities and services

It's dull, but get a handle on your new bills as soon as you can. When you move in, you'll be billed by the previous tenant's providers. You don't have to stick to these providers and you could get a cheaper deal elsewhere. Shop around using a trusted comparison site like Switchd, MoneySuperMarket or comparethemarket.com.

The process of switching is pretty straightforward, for key things to look out for you can check out our article on how to switch providers and save money.

If you're not sure how much you should be paying then enter your new address into Zoopla, and they'll give you an idea about the monthly running costs for your new place.

Set up direct debits for your bills so the money leaves your account on the agreed date without you having to lift a finger. This avoids you making late payments, incurring any fees, and leaving a negative mark on your credit report.

Mail redirection costs

If you're moving home then the Royal Mail provide a service that can redirect your mail from your old address to your new one. The cost depends on the number of recipients, how long you want the service to run for and whether the redirection is within the UK or abroad.

Paying for this service will help protect you from identity fraud and keep your details safe.


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