Once you have signed your tenancy agreement and moved into your new home there's a few things you need to know to make sure things run smoothly.
What is an inventory and why would I need one?
At the start of the tenancy the landlord or agent should give you an inventory or schedule of condition for the property. The inventory should list the content of the property, including fixtures and fittings and outline the condition of the property and its content. Ideally you should go over the inventory with the landlord at the start of the tenancy to make sure you agree with it.
If the landlord does not do this, you should take time to go over it yourself adding any amendments for things you think have been missed or are inaccurate. The landlord should also leave a copy of the inventory with you for at least seven days so you can amend it with any snagging point not noticed straight away (i.e. marks or burns when you come to move furniture). You should sign and return the amended copy to the landlord, keeping a copy for yourself. The inventory will be essential if you and the landlord cannot agree on deductions from your deposit for things like damage, cleanliness and missing items.
How do I get rid of rubbish and waste?
One of the biggest issues Newcastle faces is around rubbish and waste disposal. Some parts of the city are using communal bins for both recycling and general waste collections; other parts use wheelie bins for each property. When you move into a property the landlord should make sure there are wheelie bins there for you to use or advise you where the communal bins are. You should ask the landlord for details of which bins to use for what types of waste and recycling or go to Newcastle City Council website for details.
You should make sure you put the bins out regularly and if using wheelie bins, make sure you bring the bins back into your garden or yard after collection. If you leave wheelie bins out they can go missing and you will have to pay for a replacement.
When you are getting ready to move out of the property, you should make sure you have made arrangements to get rid of anything you don’t want to take with you. Unwanted items such as clothes, furniture and electricals can be donated to charities and there are donation bins around the city. Your University or Student Union will often run a campaign before the end of term and will provide advice and ideas about getting rid of anything you no longer want. If you leave unwanted items behind at the property, you can expect the landlord to take deductions out of your deposit to pay to have it removed.
I’m planning a party should I worry about my neighbours and noise?
If you are renting from a private landlord, you are likely to be renting a property alongside neighbours who might not share your taste in music or your hours in socialising. Newcastle is a fun city and we are famous for the friendly Geordie greeting and a great night life, but we work hard too. Tired and hardworking families might not always thank you for a 4am serenade on a weekday as you stagger back from a club.
We all have a right to enjoy where we live and we know that students are a vital part of our community here in Newcastle. Remember when you are having fun after a big exam, your neighbours might be preparing for an early start or trying to get young children to sleep.
How to avoid noise compliants
Being considerate to your neighbours is easy:
- Keep an eye on the volume – noise travels and constant daily noise can be worse for your neighbours than the occasional party.
- If you are having a party, let the neighbours know in advance and keep the music down after 11pm.
- If you have friends over, ask your guests to leave quietly, say your goodbyes before leaving the house and be careful not to slam doors.
- If you are using taxis, try and share them so there’s not cars coming and going hours in the night and early morning.
I’ve heard other people complain about damp and mould in their properties?
Damp and mould is the number one cause for tenants to contact Newcastle Council to complain about the property they live in. Many factors can contribute to a property suffering from damp, but one of the main causes is condensation. As the outside temperatures are often cold, we have become experts in making sure ours homes are well heated and free from draughts. However this has resulted in a different problem in condensation caused by day to day living. Landlords have an obligation to ensure that the properties they let out are in good condition, free from damp and mould at the start of the tenancy and are able to be economically heated and ventilated. Tenants, once moved in, have a responsibility to maintain the property and that means you will have an obligation to manage condensation in the property you rent to prevent damp and mould.
Top tips for avoiding condensation problems
There are a few obvious tips:
- Shut the bathroom door and open the bathroom window after using the shower.
- Avoid drying clothes inside, where possible use a washing line in any outdoor space you might have.
- If you have to dry your clothes indoor, use an airer rather than place items on radiators.
- Cover pans with lids, open the kitchen windows and close the kitchen door when cooking.
- Don’t block or cover vents.
If you do experience problems with damp and mould, report this to the landlord. If there is a fault in the building causing the problem, the landlord will be responsible for this, but be prepared to take part in managing the problem where tenants lifestyle is a contributing factor. This means that you should regularly wipe down any water pools caused by condensation especially around windows. Wipe down bathroom and kitchen areas if you notice mould start to develop. Regularly air the property and keep the property warm.
How to report repairs
You are also responsible for reporting any other repairs in the property. Sometimes people worry about reporting repairs thinking the landlord won’t address the problem or blame them, but not reporting repairs can mean that the problem gets worse. As well as you living in a property in poor condition, the landlord could face a larger bill to put the matter right when they do discover the problem.
If your landlord won’t address any repairs after you have reported them, or you want advice, contact the Public Protection and Neighbourhoods team online.
How to ensure you get your deposit back
Before ending the tenancy, you should start to talk to your landlord about getting your deposit back. The landlord should check the rent account is up to date and arrange a property visit. If there are any matters that need to be put right, your landlord should make you aware so you have time to address the issues before handing back the keys. After you have left the property, the landlord should return your deposit, or the amount agreed, to you within 10 working days or provide you with the reasons they want to retain all or part of the deposit. If you do not agree with the reasons that they want to keep your deposit and you cannot reach an agreement with the landlord, you can ask the deposit protection company to arbitrate the dispute.
The main reasons for keeping a deposit are:
- Rent arrears. Remember if you have a joint tenancy you could be liable for one of your housemates’ failure to pay.
- Cleaning. The property should be as clean and tidy at the end of the tenancy as it was at the start of the tenancy. This can be tricky as one person’s clean is another person’s pig sty. Use the inventory (condition of property) from the start of the tenancy as a guide.
- Damage. The property should be handed back as it was at the start of the tenancy subject to reasonable wear and tear. Things like blue tac damage to walls, scuffed walls from bikes, chipped work surfaces etc. will all cost you at the end of the tenancy.
- Clearing. Anything you leave behind at the end of the tenancy can cost you, if the landlord has to arrange to get it removed. Old kettles, bean bags and abandoned pots and pans are not gifts; the landlord will not thank you for them.