How to Avoid (Financial) Commitment to a Rental Property

The recently-released Labour Party manifesto revealed that they plan to make renting a more secure proposition, by pushing for three year tenancies. But what if you need a short term tenancy?

There are a number of cases where committing to 12 months in any given property might be risky. For example, what about people relocating temporarily for a period of months thanks to work? Or what about people renting a property from an landlord that currently trying to sell – what if the new landlord isn’t all you hoped they’d be? Even for traditional renters a long tenancy agreement may not be suitable, lest a noisy or objectionable neighbour moves in next door, making it far less enjoyable place to live?

How can you rent a property in the UK with as little financial or contractual commitment as possible, making it easy to drop everything and move whenever the need or desire takes you?

Negotiate a Short Term Tenancy Agreement

First and foremost you want as little commitment as possible to the property you’re planning to rent. Speak to letting agents, and explain your requirements. It is far safer to take on a six month agreement, with the option to extend month-by-month than it is to commit to a year or more.

A potential alternative to renting a traditional property for a short lease is to look at long-term holiday lets. It is often possible to rent a similar property with far less commitment. Many even require far less paperwork than a traditional lease.

One final option for finding short-term rentals is to look on sites like Gumtree, Spare Room or AirBnB for more casual arrangements, perhaps where you can rent a room within a house on far more flexible terms than you might be able to rent a whole house.

Don’t assume that just because a monthly arrangement isn’t specified that it won’t be accepted. Be willing to make contact with any landlords that look hopeful, explain your situation, and ask if they can meet your needs. You might be surprised by just how flexible some property owners are willing to be.  

Opt for Contract-Free Internet Access

If you might have to move out of your rental property at any time then committing to the standard 12 months telephone and Internet contract can be an expensive mistake. Move out after three months and you’ll still be expected to pay the remainder of your contract off.

Here there are two solutions. Firstly, if you’re willing to search hard enough it is possible to find broadband providers offering rolling monthly contracts. PlusNet is just one such provider.

Alternatively, consider the various mobile broadband solutions available these days. A wireless broadband hotspot can enable you to take your Internet connection with you when you move.

Pay Your TV License Monthly

While it is possible to get a refund on any unused portion of your TV license, this can take effort to request and time to materialize. Arguably, an easier solution is to instead opt to pay your TV license monthly, making cancellation when necessary much easier indeed.

Save Up Your Next Deposit

One issue with renting short term is that you’ll generally need to pay a security deposit each time you move into a new home. With the latest rules of the Deposit Protection Scheme in the UK it can take some weeks for your old deposit to be returned after you vacate a property.

This means that it is often necessary to pay your next deposit before receiving the first one back again.

If you’re only living in one place for a few months it therefore makes sense to immediately start working on saving your next deposit. Pay off as much debt as you can, reduce your spending and carefully save as much money as you can for the next move. Remember also that moving house can bring with it other costs – such as hiring a van or a removal company – so try to budget for these too in plenty of time.

Redirect Your Post

It can take time to update your contact details when you move house. If you’re only moving somewhere temporarily then it can make sense to change only those addresses legally required (car insurance, driving license etc.) and to simply redirect the rest of your mail temporarily. Then, when you go home or settle into a more permanent home you can go through all the hassle of making the relevant changes with all those different companies who write to you.

This is a guest post from British personal finance blogger Richard Adams, who shares money-saving tips on his frugality blog.