What to Consider when Choosing a Rental Property

There could be a whole host of reasons as to why you want to rent, from it being the more affordable option to a short-term stay in a particular area, but this doesn’t mean that choosing a rental property is any more lighthearted than actually buying one. From the start you need to know exactly what you should be looking for, what cautions you will need to take, all the while looking at everything as if you are the buyer.

Firstly, if you haven’t got a specific area that you want to start looking in then start doing some research on particular areas. There are a lot of guides online to areas, local amenities, schools and other life essentials, so have a look around to find where you think will suit you best. Then, once you think you’ve found an area, you will need to find the local estate agents, and it’s always a good idea to check these are part of the Association of Residential Lettings and/or the National Association of Estate Agents.

Now you’re starting to view properties, so this is the part where you need to start thinking like you are buying this house, asking questions such as, do I feel safe in this area? Is there enough parking on the street or driveway? Will I need a permit to park on the street? It’s also a good idea to have a look around the area at different times; have a look at it during the day, at weekends and in the evenings to assess noise levels from local bars and pubs and traffic and parking on the street.

Looking around the property.

When looking around the home really take into account things that could affect you should you choose to start renting this home. Make sure you have a good look for how well maintained the home is as this could indicate how on-the-ball the landlord is. If there seems to be quite a few faults and missing fixtures then they perhaps aren’t going to be the most efficient of landlords.

Always look into the heating system as this could significantly add to the cost of renting this home; so always ask to have a look at the boiler and get a good look at the windows. If they are single glazed or they’ve been badly maintained this could also add a hefty lump onto your energy bills.

If there are any faults around the home, make a list of anything that you think should be fixed before you move in so you can discuss this with the landlord. Finally, always check what costs are involved in renting the property, particularly if it is through an agent, as many people have found they have to pay administration fees, which can be up to hundreds of pounds on top of your deposit and rent.

If you do find an agency asking for a considerable amount of money, then you should maybe think of looking through another one.

The written contract.

This is essential when renting a property; your tenancy agreement with the landlord is legally binding and can be verbal or written, but it is recommended to have a written one, even if you’re renting from a family member or friend. Entitlements to written contracts can vary depending on where the property is in the UK, but always try to get one of these.

The agreement should note everything that needs to be known in the tenancy:

  • The tenant’s name.
  • The landlord’s name.
  • Who the letting agent is (where applicable).
  • The rental property address.
  • Tenancy start date.
  • How long the tenancy is for (where applicable).
  • How much the rent is and when it should be paid.
  • Whether water and council tax bills are included.
  • The notice period needed for the landlord to take possession back.
  • How much the deposit will be and where this will be kept.
  • What responsibilities you have as a tenant; such as are you allowed pets and how to notify the landlord if an issue arises.
  • What duties the landlord has.

It is also important that you have a complete inventory of the property’s contents so you check it is accurate and you won’t get stung for any costs when you leave if something was already missing from it.

Safety in your rented property.

Once you have moved into your rented home, always ensure that the landlord properly maintains any electrical appliances that they have supplied and that all of the wiring in the home is safe. Any gas appliances that are supplied by the landlord also need regular checks by someone who is qualified and on the Gas Safe Register. A record should also be kept of these checks and if any are conducted whilst you are in the property you should receive the record within 28 days of the check being carried out.

Fire safety is another responsibility of the landlord and they should have checked that there are fire extinguishers (depending on the property size), smoke alarms and a safe escape route. Any furnishings provided by the landlord should also meet fire-resistance regulations.

Right of entry to the landlord.

A landlord is entitled to enter the home immediately in the case of emergencies, but must give 24 hours notice in all other cases. If the contract you have signed says they can gain immediate access, always change this to 24 hours. However, if you have signed to say they can access immediately, this is prevented by the law and they will still need to give the 24 hours notice.

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