13 Tips For Viewing A Rental Property
Competition for rental properties can be fierce and good houses or apartments rarely stay on the market for long.
This can often lead us to rush into booking viewings and pressure to sign a contract on the first place that looks half decent.
Although it definitely does pay to act fast, you should take a number of steps to ensure you know everything there is to know about the place that could become your new home.
To help you along the way, these are our top tips and things you should ask when viewing a potential rental property.
1. What’s included?
Always ask the landlord or estate agent what’s included in your rent such as any bills, as well as how it will be paid, eg monthly or weekly. Make sure you know how much of a deposit you have to pay, along with any additional fees or charges to establish if you can comfortably afford everything.
2. Get nosy
When looking around the property, pay close attention to the details and ask questions. Does it look safe and secure? Are there working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Have appliances been safety tested and do things like the dishwasher and cooker work properly?
Are there any signs of damage and if so, can these be repaired? Look out for things like mould, as this can dampen your living experience (..pardon the pun). Your rent will be one of your largest financial expenses, so don’t be afraid to thoroughly inspect the place to make sure you’re getting a good deal. And – if your landlord or agent has agreed to repairs, be sure to get this in writing.
3. What are the neighbours like?
Your estate agent or landlord might not know the answer to this but it’s worth asking about the neighbours and the general feeling of the street or area you’ll be living in. Does it seem to be students, families or elderly people around you? Also be mindful that it may be quiet and peaceful during the day but could easily transform into a rowdier place at night time, particularly if you’re close to main roads or pubs. If you have your viewing during the day, try to schedule some time to drive by the area after dark.
4. Who’s responsible for what?
For example, if you have a garden in your property, particularly a shared garden for an entire apartment block, you should ask who is responsible for maintaining this area. If it’s up to you, you should take the potential cost of upkeep into account.
5. What’s the TV and internet like?
Don’t always assume that every property will have access to superfast broadband. Ask to see what providers are available in the area and what’s allowed by your landlord. For example, some landlords may not allow you to install dishes on the property. This will help you find out if you can bring your existing service with you or if you need to switch entirely.
6. Is it oil or gas heating?
In many cases on our website, the type of heating will be stipulated in the property description but you should always ask, just to double check. You should also try and find out what the average monthly cost of heating the place is.
When you view the property, it’s likely that it will include the furniture and belongings of the current tenant. Even if the property is described as ‘fully furnished’ this might make it unclear as to what comes with the place and what you’ll have to buy or bring yourself.
Inspect the condition of the furniture and if there’s anything you’re not happy with or want to remove, talk to the landlord or estate agent about what’s possible.
8. Can I decorate?
Many tenancy agreements will be quite strict when it comes to the level of decorating you can do but you should ask, as some landlords will be ok with you adding a lick of paint or hanging things on the wall, as long as you ask first. Others may be stricter and impose fines if you make amendments that breach the terms of the contract. Although you might be happy with the place at first sight, after a while you may want to make it feel more ‘yours’, so get clued in on what decorating you’re allowed to do before you sign anything.
9. Can I have a pet?
Similarly most tenancy agreements will say ‘no pets’ but if you have a pet or are considering getting one, you should ask anyway, just in case. Whilst you might have heard anecdotes about friends getting a dog and not disclosing it to their landlord and successfully getting away with it, this is a big risk to take.
10. What do i do if there’s an emergency?
If it’s a major emergency, such as a fire or a break-in, the emergency services and police should be your first port of call, but in less drastic but significant situations, you’ll want to know what to do if a problem arises. For example, is there a special number to call if your boiler starts leaking or if you get locked out? You’ll also want to know what the policy is for issues such as these, for example, how long will it take to react and are there any charges to pay for things such as getting locked out?
11. Is there parking?
If you have a car, or if you’re house sharing and there are a number of vehicles, you’ll want to know what space is available to you. Some apartment blocks will allow for one vehicle per property and have a fee for any additional cars.
12. How long is the contract?
Most rental contracts will be for one year but some can be shorter or even longer term than this, so you’ll want to be sure that you don’t end up locked into something you can’t get out of without paying a fee.
If you intend to stay in the property for a long time, talk to the estate agent or landlord about this find out if it’s possible and if the rent is likely to increase during this time.
13. Read the small print
Before you sign your tenancy contract, read it thoroughly and get a copy for yourself, so that if a problem, situation or question arises, you can refer to this document. It will also be a useful tool when it comes to move out, as many agreements will include details of the state of the property and the furnishings, so you can be 100% sure that you’re leaving everything in the condition you found it.