Here are some tips on renting a flat (based on experience on London but applicable anywhere really).
- Always try to go through a private landlord. You can find their properties on places like Gumtree and Craigslist.
- Tell them you are self-employed and you can get a guarantor (someone who is either a family member/non family member who is UK based and in full time secure work. This means that if you ever fall behind with your rent it will come out of their account instead so the landlord never receives nothing).
- If they ask for accountant proof/credit reports etc. then you absolutely don't have to provide them. If you have a guarantor then there is no need for them to see things like that as they will be getting the rent every month no matter what.
- If they ask for bank statements then you will probably need to show them some. Just say you get paid cash in hand from your job and you put it into your account when you need it. It's definitely a good thing to be paying tax as an escort as you can also show your potential landlord proof of you pay NI etc.
- Offer 2 months' rent upfront, plus a 6 week deposit. They will be all over you like a rash if you offer a lump sum. I wouldn't advise offering something like 6 months upfront as they will think it's a bit weird and wonder why you want to do that.
- If you need a previous landlord reference then maybe get one of the girls on SAFAFE to do it for you, somebody you trust. All it involves is a phone call or an email. Or get one of your personal friends to do it for you. If you have a real previous landlord reference though then of course use that and not a fake one.
- It always helps to have a glowing character reference from someone like an old boss, teacher, flatmate.
- It's good to always opt for a 6 month lease or a 1 year lease with a break clause in it. A break clause is one where you (AND THE LANDLORD) are contracted together for a period of time, normally a year but with a break clause (normally at the 6 month point of your tenancy) where either party can decide they would not like the tenancy to continue. Effectively it gives you or your landlord the option to break the tenancy at a certain point. You/They MUST give a certain amount of notice (normally 2 months under Assured Shorthold Tenancies) but you need to check your specific tenancy agreement. This way, if you end up hating the flat or the landlord is a nightmare etc. then you can get out quickly.
- Be aware that your landlord MUST by law give 24 hours written notice (text, email, letter) to come over to the flat. If they just show up then this is against the law and they must NEVER let themselves in without your permission.
- Your landlord must bond your deposit in one of the bonding schemes. If they dont do this within the appropriate time frame then they are liable to give you 3 x the amount of the deposit. Check out the DPS* for more info.
*The DPS is the Deposit Protection Service – depositprotection.com. It is a tenancy deposit scheme. The DPS is one of a couple of online services you can use to find out whether your landlord has protected your deposit. In order to see if your money has been deposited into the scheme, your landlord needs to give you a PIN number which he would've been assigned when opening the account in which to place your deposit. It's your deposit ID number.
To expand, if it does turn out that he hasn't protected your deposit, you can file a claim at the small claims court at your local county court (do a Google search for the nearest one in your area; due to govt. cuts some have closed and some have merged with the magistrates and criminal courts. It costs around £35 to file (that was the price last year), which you can also claim back and also any necessary expenses you may have accrued when filing; postage, proof of phone calls, travel, etc.
If you can, always record your correspondence between yourself and your landlord. Try to use email or snail mail and if you use your mobile, send texts instead of speaking to him on the phone. Then, if your landlord turns out to be a less than savoury character, you've got hard copies for proof.