Looking to rent a house or apartment? Then it can be quite daunting if this is your first time. And if it’s not, but you’re wondering why your rental never happens to work out, then the following guide will be worth a read for you too.
Certainly it’ll only take five minutes - or less - to scan this article. But it could be the difference between whether you extend your lease or start looking for another place just a couple of months down the line.
So apart from the obvious red flags such as peeling wallpaper or black patches (both caused by wet rot), you’ll want to know the plumbing is tip top and the heating goes on when you want it to. And talking of rot, if you spot red dust on the floor run a mile - it’s likely to be dry rot (either that or a bad case of wood worm). Read on for what to focus on in particular areas of the property:
Everyone has different priorities, of course. If you’re a family with young children you’ll probably be more interested in the garden than say a young professional who’ll be out at work most of the time.
So, is the garden big enough and fenced so that the kids won’t get out easily? Is it near a main road? And who pays for the grass cutting and upkeep of the garden anyhow? If it’s an apartment you’re viewing a maintenance agency will probably be hired to look after the block, the payment of which will usually be down to the landlord.
What are the local amenities like? Young professionals will be interested in nearby clubs, pubs, restaurants and gyms. Families, on the other hand will want to know if there are parks nearby and whether there’s a decent school within walking distance/a bus ride away.
It’s always a good idea to view a property both during the day and at night too. That’s because the pleasant suburban street during the day may transform into a rowdy free-for-all at night thanks to that rather busy pub across the road. Worse still, there could be a gang of local teens roaming the streets because there’s nowhere else for them to hang out.
If you’re not keen on the colour of the paintwork in the sitting room, bedroom or hallway etc then will the landlord let you repaint? Most landlords are happy to oblige, especially if your rental is a long one i.e. for at least a year. If it’s an unfurnished flat or house then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem since it’s not as if there has to be a certain colour scheme to match the curtains, sofa, accessories etc.
Do all the lights work and appliances, such as the dishwasher and microwave do what they’re supposed to? And on that note, ask when the wiring was last done - especially if it’s an older property, dating back more than 30 years. Flush the loo and run the taps while you’re there too, just to assure yourself everything’s in working order.
Another important aspect of the interior of a rented flat - and one which can easily be overlooked when you’re seduced by how great the flat looks - is whether or not there’s decent storage. Not a lot of modern apartments do have this, unfortunately. It can result in lots of arguments if there’s two of you moving into a one bedroom flat together. Take our word for it…
As well as the cost of the rent you’ll have to fork out for the council tax. You’ll also want to know what - roughly - the last tenants paid for gas and electricity (and water) so that you can budget for this too.
And, lastly, does the landlord want one or two months deposit in advance?
All rental properties these days must have fire alarms and a fire extinguisher together with a fire safety blanket. Check the property you’re about to move in to has - as well as a carbon monoxide detector.
Your landlord should also be able to provide records showing the gas is checked on an annual basis.
If it’s a furnished property you’re moving to, all furnishings such as sofas, cushions and fabric headboards should also be fire retardant under regulations introduced in 1989.
General questions you’ll want answers to:
- Parking. If you own a car, is there off-street parking? And if not, do you need a parking permit? Depending on where you’re planning to rent this can add quite a lot on to your monthly costs so it’s always worth finding out.
- Security. Is there a decent mortice lock on the front door and even an alarm system? If the property is a house or a ground floor apartment then do the windows have locks? For your own peace of mind this is important.
- Neighbours. This can be more important than you think and it’s why it’s worth asking around when you go to visit. The landlord or estate agent isn’t going to tell you that you’re about to move in next door to the neighbours from hell - but another neighbour you get chatting to just might.
- Electrical equipment. Now that we are all hi-tech these days and forever charging our equipment, does the rental have enough sockets to cope with all your gadgets? If not, could an electrician put more in? Crucially, are you able to get a decent broadband signal there? The latter could definitely mean the difference between picking the keys up next week or continuing your rental hunt.
The above isn’t an exhaustive list but it does cover the main points. And don’t be embarrassed to ask a lot of questions either, regardless of whether it’s the landlord or estate agent that shows you around. Remember you’re going to be living there for at least six months, so it’s got to be right.
Added: October 31, 2018 11:37:11