A friend asked for tips for her nephew who has just moved into his first place of his own. Which is a sensible question as it’s too easy to assume youngsters will somehow know what to do!
Here are some suggestions – if you have any others, please add them below.
1. take meter readings
Of course there shouldn’t be any problems with you being charged for the previous occupants electricity, gas and water – but why take the risk? It will take you only a couple of minutes to read the meters (helpful instructions here) and photograph them as proof.
2. check inventory of contents
This is if you are renting a furnished flat. Go through the list and email the agents/landlord immediately if anything is missing or damaged
3. note all areas which aren’t in good condition
If you are renting, then make a list of all cracked tiles, worn carpet, marks on walls etc and photograph them – even if you think they are unimportant, you don’t want to get charged for correcting them when you leave. Send landlord/agent a short email noting them – this doesn’t have to include all the pics – and make it clear you are just itemising them, not demanding that the landlord comes round and repairs them.
4. find out if there is an immersion heater
If you have any alternative means of heating the hot water eg through your central heating, an immersion heater should only be used as an emergency back-up as it is very expensive.
5. check your deposit is protected
When you have been in for a month or so use this website to check that your landlord has protected your deposit. Hopefully the answer is going to be yes – if it isn’t, then read this leaflet and consider going to your local Citizens Advice Bureau to get help,
6. apply for housing benefit
If you are on a low income you may qualify for help with the rent through Housing Benefit – use this benefit checker to find out. It can take a few weeks to sort out a claim, so make applying a priority.
Also tell the council if you are single so you get a 25% discount on your council tax.
7. set up standing orders or direct debits for the essentials
Rent/mortgage, council tax and the utilities – getting behind with any of these is a big mistake.
8. go and say Hello to the neighbours
You don’t want their first contact with you to be complaining about your loud house-warming party