1. Before going to see a house or flat, make a list of the things you're looking for in the location Are you really looking for that idyllic remote country location, or like most people are you wanting to be close to shops, schools, transport, eating out, bars etc.
2. Be sure to tell the agent what's important for you at the property e.g. budget, furnished/unfurnished, occupation date sought, how long you want to stay, parking, safe play areas for children.
3. Having decided on your budget for the rent, find out what additional costs will be involved. Expect to pay a deposit of at least one month's rent. Make provision for insurance if existing policies won't do.
4. Be up front if you are a smoker or would like to keep a pet. Many landlords are unhappy about such tenancy requirements, but an agent should offer to identify those landlords with no objections.
5. Clarify what is, and is not included, in the rental; Council Tax and utility bills are not usually included but it is important to be clear
6. Ensure that the tenancy agreement complies with current legislation and Office of Fair trading requirements and that you understand the requirements of the lease. If you have concerns, ask for an explanation before signing or seek advice from a lawyer or Citizens Advice Bureau.
7. Carefully examine the inventory, and accompanying photographs prepared, and ensure that you receive a copy to keep. Any adjustments required should be discussed with the agent and recorded.
8. During your tenancy notify defects in writing to the landlord or agent as soon as they become apparent, even if they don't need to be rectified at the time.
9. Should you have any problems or queries during the tenancy, direct them to the agent if you have one, rather than the landlord, to help avoid later misunderstanding or legal complications.
10. Make yourself familiar with the requirements of the tenancy deposit scheme, which is designed for the protection of your client monies. You should be given full information about the scheme at the beginning of the tenancy at the latest. If you are not, and especially if you suspect that your deposit is not being protected in this way, insist on it with the agent or landlord concerned.