Before you move into your new rental property, our moving in checklist has everything you need to know about your and your landlord’s obligations. Plus, we offer some top tips to help you settle in quickly.

Your landlord’s obligations – important documents to keep safe

When your new tenancy begins, these are the documents your landlord is obliged to give you copies of, as proof that your tenancy is secure, and your new home is safe. It’s a good idea to keep these together in a safe place:
  • Your tenancy agreement, signed by the landlord
  • The government’s ‘How to Rent Guide’ (either as PDF, or in print)
  • The deposit certificate, along with a ‘prescribed information’ form and the T&Cs of the deposit scheme the landlord is using 
    (for more information, please read our article: 'Tenancy deposit protection explained')
  • A valid electrical installation condition report (EICR) (your landlord must renew this every 5 years)
  • A valid gas safety certificate (GSC) for the property, if there is a gas supply, your landlord must renew this every year, and you should be given a copy of each new certificate within 28 days of the annual check being completed
  • An energy performance certificate (EPC) which indicates how energy efficient the property is, rated from A (the highest) to E (the lowest accepted for the property to be legally let, unless there’s an exemption certificate)
  • Fire labels on any furniture the landlord has provided – furniture provided must meet the fire resistance requirements (according to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988)
  • After you move in, an inventory and ‘schedule of condition’ report showing serial numbers of the utility meters, current readings (at time of move-in) along with proof that all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order
  • Contact details for the landlord or the property manager
  • Out of hours emergency arrangements

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And here are a few extra items we always recommend landlords provide their tenants with copies of:

  • All appliance manuals
  • Details of any warranties or guarantees in place for anything in the property
  • Details of any special cleaning or care recommendations for landlords’ fixtures and fittings

Your obligations as a tenant

So, we’ve run through your landlord’s obligations, now it's your turn. As part of your tenancy agreement, there are several things you’re obliged to do while living in your rented home, including:

  • Firstly, make prompt rent payments (you may be responsible for a fee if your rent is more than 14 days overdue)
  • You’re responsible for setting up and paying the council tax, utilities, and other bills in your new home, unless your tenancy agreement states otherwise. (You can usually shop around and select your own energy and utilities providers)
  • You must take care of your rented home (see below)
  • You must be respectful of your neighbours and not behave antisocially
  • You cannot accept a lodger or sublet a room without your landlord’s permission
  • You must inform your landlord of any repairs that are needed (you could risk losing some of your deposit if you fail to report a minor issue that develops into a major issue)
  • You’re responsible for insuring your own items and we recommend taking out insurance against accidents that could happen to the landlord’s fixtures and fittings
  • And lastly – while not an obligation – we strongly recommend registering your new address on the electoral roll, so you are eligible to vote, and to keep your credit checks up to date

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Taking care of your rented home

As we mention above, part of a tenant’s obligations is routine maintenance of their rented home. Not the big jobs that need a professional tradesperson, just the regular chores and tasks we all do to keep our homes in good condition. Here’s a non-exhaustive guide of what usually falls under maintenance:

  • Changing light bulbs and fuses
  • Keeping the interior and exterior of the property clean, including the windows
  • Keeping windows free from condensation
  • Unblocking sinks drains and toilets
  • General garden maintenance, such as mowing the lawn and sweeping up leaves
  • Maintaining level boiler pressure by re-pressurising when necessary
  • Bleeding the radiators
  • Changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (if a detector breaks, you need to tell your landlord as soon as possible)
  • Ensuring that the property is kept free from pests

(And don’t worry - if you’ve never bled a radiator or changed a fuse, give us a call, we’re always here to help).

You may hear tenants’ obligations referred to as ‘behaving in a tenant-like manner’. This phrase comes from Warren v Keen - an English landlord–tenant law case from 1953 concerning the obligations of both parties. It’s well known for Lord Denning's ruling on a tenant's duty to use a rented property in a tenant-like manner and is still an important piece of legislation today. We reference it in more detail in our previous article:  'How to take care of your rental property'.

How to turn a rental property into a home

You’ve gone through all the checklists and understand your obligations and now comes the fun bit! You’re in your new rented home and eager to make it your own. Redecorating and refurbishments aren’t usually allowed in rented properties, so if you get the urge to paint walls or change floor coverings, don’t do anything until you’ve checked your tenancy agreement and discussed it with your landlord. And if they agree to your plans, be sure to get that in writing.

It’s worth noting, that if your planned alterations would be considered an improvement to the property and enhance your experience of living there, then the landlord can’t unreasonably refuse your request. However, this is very subjective and determined on a case-by-case basis.

Here are our interior styling tips and non-permanent tricks that will make your rented home feel like your own:

  • In kitchens and bathrooms, peel-and-stick backsplash tiles and vinyls are another great option for adding a personal touch without damaging any walls or tiles
  • Add rugs on top of existing carpets or flooring that aren’t to your taste and, bonus points, as you don’t have to worry about marks, spills, and scrapes when you move out
  • Cushions, throws, curtains, textiles, and soft furnishings can make a big immediate difference to the look and feel of a room
  • Framed photos and favourite artworks can instantly make you feel at home but do check your tenancy agreement before hammering picture hooks into walls! (Or, for painted walls try picture hanging strips that don’t leave a mark instead)
  • Arranging propped picture frames with other accessories and mementos is an easy alternative to wall hangings
  • And finally, every green-fingered tenant will know that houseplants always breathe new life into a home and improve air quality too, win win!

We hope you found our tenants’ checklist useful, but if you have any further questions please get in touch with our team.