It is very easy to get tricked by a scammer when you just arrived in the UK, hoping to find an accommodation fast and move in right away. Some landlords intentionally omit mentioning important problems in their ads in order to rent their accommodations, when some others don’t even have a real place to rent. Of course all owners aren’t tricksters but you need to stay vigilant to avoid an unfortunate situation.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid unfortunate situations:
Pay attention to the details when viewing the house
Every single detail matters when seeing accommodation. Pay particular attention to mildew stains, the state of the mattress as well as the furniture. You might need to inspect the floor as a badly maintained floor can be the source of many other major problems.
It might seem obvious for some, but it is also essential to see the house in its entirety. For example, if your room is on the first floor you can ask to see the second floor as well even if the person that is making you see the flat assures you that there is nothing more to see or that the other rooms are just the same. If you don’t, there is a risk that there might be more people living in the house than announced on the website or perhaps a leak in the attic?
Whenever possible, try to meet one of your housemates before moving in: not only will he be able to let you know what kind of atmosphere reigns in the flat but they will also be able to answer any questions you couldn’t ask the owner/estate agent.
Learn about the letting agency prior to seeing the accommodation
We advise you to get to know as much as you can about the real estate agency in charge of renting the place you are seeing before signing anything. You’ll be able to find the information you need on the internet, such as the previous renters’ reviews and ratings. You can also search a bit about the owner’s whereabouts and history.
When signing the renting contract, you want to write down the exact contact details of the owner, that is to say his phone number, email address and mailing address. The agencies only supervise the moment you move in and out of the accommodation so you will need to make sure to know how to contact the owner in case a problem happens between your arrival and your departure.
Prioritise bank transfers and always keep the proof of payment
The safest payment method is via bank transfer as it allows you to keep track of your payments. Some owners will even ask you to pay the rent before moving in, however when you arrive in England for the first time you might not have set up your bank account so that leaves you with only the option to pay cash. In these cases, make sure to obtain a written and signed receipt from the owner.
React quickly if you notice animals appearing in your accommodation
Rats, mice, fleas, ticks, bugs, slugs… such are the unwanted animals and bugs that can settle in your home. You need to contact the owner as soon as you notice their presence, because their multiplication is often very fast. Send emails or mails rather than calling directly so that you can keep these emails and letters as proofs. If your landlord or owner doesn’t act after you have warned them, you can contact your city council right away. You will need to prove that the owner was aware of that problem and that he didn’t take care of it thanks to emails you’re exchanged, pictures or photos.
In order to avoid these situations, you need to keep your room clean and tidy, as well as cleaning the shared spaces after using them.
Get your deposit back right after leaving the accommodation
The owner has to give back the deposit within 15 days after the renter left the accommodation, hence you need to be quick and act within the legal delays.
This piece of advice will keep you 5 steps away from being tricked by a scammer or a dishonest owner. If you ever need law advice regarding your accommodation, you will find free guidance from the citizen advice bureau on the website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice/#searchbox