Finding a new place to rent should be an exciting time. But too often the joy of discovering somewhere to make your own can be dampened by the seemingly endless slog to houses or flats, only to discover they’re nothing like the brochure promised. But even worse is finding the place of your dreams only for it to turn into a nightmare… complete with a long lease agreement.
Here are some questions you should ask first to avoid signing up to a home from hell.
1. What's the total cost?
Of course, you don’t ring the ad in the paper and call up for a viewing without checking if the place is in your price range. But it’s vital not to get stung by extra costs. Make sure you don’t get hit with additional bills or service charges and always check the deposit amount and how many months’ rent you’re expected to pay in advance. If you ask for an outright answer there will be no chance of sneaking any extra costs your way.
2. What am I responsible for?
Your potential home may have communal areas such as a garden, kitchen or bathroom. Make sure you know who is expected to maintain what so you don’t end up doing all the work… or trapped in an unhygienic mess of a property.
3. What is the area like?
The property looks great, but that will count for nothing if it’s a small oasis in an area which makes you feel uncomfortable. Find out what the neighbours are like. Are they noisy? Do they have kids, a dog that won’t stop barking, a habit of doing the DIY at 3am? Research the area – at both day and night – to make sure you’ll get a good night’s sleep and feel safe.
4. Can I add my own touch?
We all want to add those finishing touches to our home, but what if you don’t like the colours or feel of the property? Check whether your landlord has any issues with you decorating the place before you slap on a layer of paint or begin putting up shelves and hammering picture hooks into the wall.
5. What's the emergency drill?
Let’s face it, things go wrong all the time at properties. But what if the washing machine leaks, the boiler packs up or you suffer a break in? Make sure you have a list of emergency names and numbers you can call – 24 hours a day – if things go wrong.
6. What do I get for my money?
You don’t want to turn up on day one to see the sofa has been taken out of your ‘furnished’ flat and replaced by two patio chairs. Make sure you know exactly what furniture, pots, pans, curtains, fridges and washing machines etc., are included so you have peace of mind on the day you move in.
7. Will I stay warm?
If you wake up freezing and get into a cold shower then you’ve already ruined your day. Check the type of heating system and boiler which are in the property. Will there be enough hot water in the tank to suit your needs each day? Do you have radiators or storage heaters? If it’s the latter and you’re paying the electricity bill then take that into consideration. Is the building listed? If so, it may only be single glazed, which tends to let more of the cold into the house compared to double glazed.
8. Am I online?
It’s virtually impossible to get through the day without needing wifi, especially if you work from home. Is wifi provided? Is it included in the rent? Do I need to provide my own? What are speeds like around here? These are all vital questions, and ones to ask before you even bring up the subject of which TV services are available and whether the building is allowed a satellite dish.
9. How can I get from A to B?
It’s important to know exactly how easy or difficult it will be to get from your home to, well, everywhere else. The shops may be a short walk away, but if you’re in a city or large town what are the bus routes like? Are you near a railway or underground station? Also, do you own a vehicle? If so it’s vital to know whether you will have a parking space, need permits or be expected to cough up a bank-busting daily rate at the meter.
10. Is that broken?
Okay, so the property looks a little rough around the edges but could soon be made perfect. Make sure you check whether any cracks in windows, missing roof tiles or dodgy doorbells will be replaced before you move in, or whether the landlord just expects you to get on with it as things are.
11. Can I bring everything with me?
If you are downsizing or moving into a small place, will it have ample storage? If not, check whether you can bring your own wardrobes and cupboards into the place. If so, a quick measure up will ensure everything fits perfectly.
If you’re looking for a flat or room to rent, we can help you. Take a look at our listings in your area to find the perfect place to call home.