5. Before signing a tenancy agreement
There are a few things you should consider before signing a tenancy agreement. Once you have signed a tenancy agreement you will remain legally responsible for the rental costs until the end of the initial term (usually 6 months).
You are committing to living in the property for a minimum of 6 months, maintaining the property and paying the rent for this time. It is very difficult to leave your tenancy during this time unless you and your landlord both agree to do so.
Please read How to Rent – The Checklist for Renting in England if you are looking for a private rented property or are about to sign for a new tenancy. There is a lot of information to help you decide if the property is suitable, affordable and what the basic expectations you can have from a landlord and your responsibilities. It is a legal requirement for all tenancies starting after 1st October 2015 that the landlord provides a copy of this guide at the start of a new tenancy. The Government's website advice on renting privately also provides further details for people considering private rented accommodation.
Before you agree to rent a property, you need to make sure that you can afford to pay the rent, rates and utility bills. If you fall into arrears, your landlord can take you to court to recoup the arrears and evict you. There are a number of additional costs that you should bear in mind, when deciding if a property is affordable.
You can find additional information on your income using a benefits calculator.