Finding the perfect rental property
Whether you’re a seasoned tenant or looking for your first property, finding a home to rent is an exciting prospect. But there’s a lot of think about before you can make your move. How much is the rent? What are the transport links like? Is the property energy efficient?
In this week’s guide, our lettings team outlines what you should be looking for during your search for the perfect property.
Listing the non-negotiables
Before you begin, give some thought to what you really need from your new property. After all, it should suit your lifestyle and be somewhere you’re proud to call home. For instance, think about the number of bedrooms you require or whether you need to bring any pets. You might be looking to work from the property, so high-speed internet connection will be crucial.
After listing your non-negotiables, think about the other factors that will add to your happiness. Would you like some outdoor space? Is it important to have another room as a work space? How much storage do you need? Once you’ve outlined your priorities, you’ll be able to brief a letting agent to help with your search.
Crunching the numbers
Calculate how much you can afford to pay each month. Factor in rent payments, amenities such as water, electricity, phone, gas and internet connection, and council tax. Remember to include money for other essential outgoings such as travel, food and household items. Ensure you put enough aside for any regular activities such as gym membership.
Before your tenancy begins, you might need to supply a deposit, which should be no more than five weeks’ rent. Your landlord or letting agent should register this money with a government-authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme. They should also provide you with the relevant documentation within 10 days and return the deposit at the end of the tenancy, minus any costs for repairs or unpaid rent. If you’re not able to come to an agreement about the return of the deposit, each scheme runs a free dispute resolution service.
Finding the right area
Spend some time exploring the area before you decide on an exact location. Where are the shops located? Is it important to have a good primary or secondary school nearby? Is the area experiencing a period of growth? If you commute to work, look at the local transport links to calculate how long your journey will take and the associated cost.
Gain some local insight by speaking to any contacts and seeking guidance from our knowledgeable team at Townends. We’re embedded within our communities and are happy to answer your questions.
Make sure you view all of the properties that fit your initial brief and review them in more detail. Take a list of your non-negotiables and ask the landlord or letting agent to clarify anything that isn’t clear. For example, ask to see a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) so you can have an idea of the average running costs. From April 2018, all rental properties should reach a minimum rating of E for all new tenancies.
Safety should always be an important consideration. By law, rental properties that use gas need an annual gas safety check and the supporting certificate should be passed to tenants. Whilst at the property, ask the agent or landlord to show you a copy of the certificate and point out the carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. Landlords also need to make sure any electrical systems and appliances that are provided are safe to use.
If you’re moving into a shared house, make sure you feel comfortable with your prospective housemates. You’ll be entering into a legal agreement as a group, so it’s essential that you share with people you like and trust.
Speak to your fellow tenants and think about whether your lifestyles are compatible as a household. Your letting agent should also run detailed background checks on each tenant. At Townends, we use a professional referencing service The Lettings Hub.
Checking an agreement
Before you move in, it’s likely you’ll need to sign an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement. This contract will outline the obligations of both parties and usually state that tenants are ‘jointly liable’ for the rent. Check the detail of the contract as it will include key information such as when the rent needs to be paid.
The contract should also include emergency contact details if something urgently goes wrong with the property. Check to see whether the agreement also details any ‘non-negotiables’ you discussed with the landlord or agent during the viewing process.
Before you move into any rental home, always attend a check-in process with the landlord or letting agent to record the property’s current condition. A detailed inventory means you should only be liable for any damage made during your tenancy. During the process, photos of all damage should be taken, dated and agreed in writing by both sides. Make sure your deposit is registered, as detailed above.
In England, the agent or landlord should also give you a copy of the Government’s How to Rent Guide (there are similar guides for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Finding a letting agent
A professional letting agent will have the local knowledge and industry expertise to help you find the right rental property. Our team at Townends are ARLA Propertymark trained and happy to assist with your property search.