Renting a property is, in some respects, more complicated that buying, mainly because there is less you can directly control as far as fixtures and fittings, the structure of the property and overall decoration is concerned. So, it is important to make sure that the rental property you are viewing is the right one for you. In this article we have given a complete guide for what to look for when viewing a rental property. Not all the points raised will be relevant or important to you, but they should give a good idea of what to look out for:
Parking: One perhaps not immediately obvious thing to check is the parking situation. Check whether there is off street parking. If you will need to park on the road ask whether a permit is needed and if so how much these cost.
Environment and Neighbours: Before you enter the property pause and take note of traffic and other noise (are you in a flight path, next to a busy road or even a railway line?) Check out the neighbours’ gardens too. Do they look well looked after and well maintained? What level of privacy from the neighbours does the garden afford? If you do not know the area, now is a good time to ask about local schools, doctors, shops, transport links pubs etc.
External Condition: Have a good look at the external condition of the property. Does it look well maintained? Are the doors and windows in good repair and secure? If there is a garden, has it been looked after?
Size: Presumably, you would not be viewing the property if the size and number of rooms did not suit your needs. As you view each room double check that the layout and size of rooms will work for all who will be living in the property and your belongings.
Heat and Power: What sort of heating does the property have and when was the heating system last serviced? Make sure to ask about the EPC rating ahead of time as this will affect your utility bills. Properties being let must have an EPC rating of E or better or have an exemption. What type of meters does the property have for water (if applicable), gas and electricity? Are they pre-pay or are they smart meters?
Security and Safety: Check that the external doors have suitable locks and that the downstairs windows have window locks. Does the property have smoke and/or Carbon Monoxide detectors? Make sure the property has an electrical safety certificate and check the fuse board, does it look in poor condition? Check the gas safety certificate too. Does the property have suitable extractor fans which work? Are there any signs of damp or mould? Check windows and sills for signs of condensation, a quick peak behind furniture will enable you to spot obvious signs of damp. Ask whoever is showing you around if there has been issues with damp or mould.
Decoration and Furnishings: Is the property well decorated and in good condition? Ask about decorating restrictions and whether you can hang pictures mirrors etc on the walls. If furniture is supplied, does it comply with the latest fire safety regulations and have a fire safety label on it? Is the flooring in good condition? If blinds or curtains are fitted do they work properly and will they block out enough light for your taste? If not, can you change them?
Plumbing: What sort of water pressure do you get at the taps, bath and/or shower? The last thing you want is a dribble of water in the shower. Are any taps or pipes leaking? Are all the sinks, toilets, baths and showers properly sealed and is it in good condition or mouldy and cracked? Do the toilets flush properly and is the drainage from sinks, baths and showers good? Are there any signs of mould, damp or condensation in any of the “wet” rooms like the kitchen, toilets and bathroom?
Fixtures and Fittings: Are all the plug sockets, light fittings and light switches in good condition? What is the state of the kitchen cupboards and work surfaces? Are there enough cupboards and is the worksurface space enough for you? If white goods are supplied, are they in good condition and large enough (especially a fridge freezer) for your needs? If they aren’t supplied is there enough space for you to install your own?
Connectivity: What is the phone signal like in the property? Are there any limitations on Wi-Fi, satellite TV or phone lines? What is the broadband speed for the area and will it be enough?
Financial Considerations: What council tax band is the property in and what are the costs in that area? What are the “average” utility bills for the property? Can you afford the rent and deposit for the initial rental? Can you afford the rent and the running costs moving forwards?
Landlord and Agent: Ask about repairs and maintenance, who is your point of contact? Do they seem approachable and someone you can build a relationship with? Are there any other costs that you would be liable for?
When moving into a new home there is a lot to consider and it might be wise to take along a friend or relative to the viewing to get a second, more objective view on the property. Prior to the viewing make a list about what is important to you. At the end of the day, just take some time, ask the right questions and make sure that the property and the landlord/agent are right for you.