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How Do I Prepare for a Rental Viewing as a Tenant?
It is understandable that in the excitement of finding your dream home tenants can all too easily rush the process of renting a property, forgetting key considerations before putting their name to the dotted line. Naturally, especially in times such as this with rapidly climbing demand for rental preparties, tenants will feel they must act fast to secure their desired home; but do you know if the rental fits within your budget? Is the location convenient for your commute?
Similarly to how landlords cannot be expected to gain a full understanding of their future tenants after a single meeting during a rental viewing, the initial tour of a property will not reveal all a tenant will need to know.
- Questions to Ask a Landlord When Viewing a House?
- What Bills Do I Have to Pay When Renting?
- Do You Pay Council Tax if You Rent?
- When to Pay the Deposits and Your First Month’s Rent
- Are Pets Allowed in the Rented Accommodation?
- How Long Is the Tenancy Period?
- What Should I Look For When Viewing a House?
- Evaluate the Exterior
- Is the Rental Property Secure?
- Assess the Appliances
- Check for Mould & Pests
- How Do I Prepare for a Rental Viewing?
- Get Organised
- Be Scrupulous
- Be Timely
Questions to Ask a Landlord When Viewing a House?
What Bills Do I Have to Pay When Renting?
Before moving into the rental property aspiring renters will be able to request a copy of the energy performance certificate from the landlord. Alongside giving prospective tenants an idea of how energy efficient the rental opportunity is, the certificate will also provide renters with an estimation as to the running costs and their expenditure in utility bills over a year.
It goes without saying that tenants will need to consider the amount they are expected to pay the landlord in rent when evaluating their monthly outgoings, but it is critical not to overlook any utility bills renters are liable to cover. A tenant’s responsibility will be clearly outlined within the tenancy agreement; however, it is worth noting that if a joint tenancy is being entered into renters will need to calculate how each bill is split amongst themselves.
Do You Pay Council Tax if You Rent?
Similarly to knowing how much you are responsible to pay each month in utility bills, understanding your liability for council tax will be an essential step in finalising your budget when renting. The amount a tenant will be required to pay will vary depending on where they are situated as each local authority will have independent rates, further divided into specific bands.
When to Pay the Deposits and Your First Month’s Rent
The introduction of the tenant fees act 2019 established a limit on the amount landlords can ask their future tenants to pay for both the holding deposit and the security deposit. The regulations dictated that tenants must not pay more than the equivalent of a single weeks’ rent for the holding deposit when reserving the rental property; and that landlords are prohibited from requesting more than five weeks rent for the security deposit. However, if the amount the tenant pays each year in rent is over £50,000 then the landlord is empowered to ask for up to six weeks rent for the security deposit.
With this being said once the tenant pays the landlord a holding deposit to reserve the rental opportunity, this amount is usually refunded to the tenant through a deduction from their first month’s rent, meaning the proceeding payments will be slightly higher.
It is also worth noting that the day on which the rent s due to be paid to the landlord may vary slightly between tenancies. Naturally, tenants should check this with their landlord and budget their finances accordingly.
Are Pets Allowed in the Rented Accommodation?
In recent years the number of landlords that are willing to open their doors to tenants that wish to bring along their furry friends has dwindled, with a mere 7% of accommodation being “pet friendly” during 2020. Although the UK government is making small moves towards a blanket ban on pets being outlawed, rental property owners can no longer ignore the soaring numbers of tenants that need to find a home with their pets after ownership of animal companions across the UK climbed dramatically during the lockdown period.
How Long Is the Tenancy Period?
Typically, renters will find that their tenancy will last anywhere from 6 to 12 months. This will of course be stipulated within the tenancy agreement, but knowing this during the rental viewing provides tenants with an indication of what their future landlord could be looking for. Will a six-month fixed term provide you with enough flexibility? Do you want to request the addition of a break clause to end the tenancy early Tenants should consider these key questions.
What Should I Look For When Viewing a House?
Evaluate the Exterior
Prospective tenants should check that the guttering and pipes are not leaking, that any wooden door and window frames are not falling apart thanks to rot? If there are any outdoor garden areas renters should determine if it will be their responsibility to tend to its upkeep.
Is the Rental Property Secure?
Has the landlord fitted an alarm system within the property? Tenants should ensure that all windows and doors can be fully closed and locked appropriately, denying unauthorised entry to the rental.
Assess the Appliances
Aspiring tenants should take the time during each rental viewing to ask which of the goods and appliances will the included in the tenancy, not only to be informed over what they will need to bring to the rental, but so they can ensure these appliances are fully functional come the start of the fixed term.
Check for Mould & Pests
It goes without saying that tenants should take the opportunity of a property viewing to inspect the rental for any signs of disrepair and damage, but the signs of mould and infestation can sometimes be more subtle. Renters should look out for any droppings close to cracks in walls, whereas mould will often present in areas that will typically have poor ventilation and high moisture, commonly the bathroom or kitchen.
How Do I Prepare for a Rental Viewing?
The best way to get around this is to be prepared for your visit. Talk to any online property agent and they’ll advise you to take a notepad and pen with you and jotting down (a) the features you love and (b) what you don’t like. Take a camera with you and take snaps too – it’ll help you differentiate between properties if you’re going to see lots.
Go prepared with questions to ask too. These could include asking about the neighbours, what the council tax charge is, if it’s a flat then what the service charges are, private maintenance arrangements etc
That means taking nothing at face value – especially if you’re going to view an older property. Ask how old the boiler is; having to fit a new one could cost a couple of thousand pounds. Ask if there have been any damp proofing courses applied to the property, and when. If there has ask to see the certificates.
Are the white goods included in the sale? You’ll want to know this as a new washing machine, cooker, fridge etc can easily add up to £1000. Also, what’s the storage situation like? Online estate agents advise that many new properties in particular don’t have a lot of storage and that could prove problematic if you happen to be a bit of a hoarder…
By this we mean, always go and view a property during the day time, if possible. Daylight doesn’t allow cracks and dents etc to be hidden quite as easily as those twilight hours. It means you also get a chance to go and check the outside.
If you do like the property then visit again at night (or, at least, visit the neighbourhood). That way you can find out if gangs’ hang around, if it’s particularly noisy at night and/or has a sense of menace about it. Similarly, if you’re really keen on it, check out what the area is like during rush hour. Sometimes it takes half an hour just to get to the main road from the estate. Your online estate agent should always point this out.
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