Whatever age you are, if you’re renting for the first time then you need to know what to expect.
The average age of renters in the UK is slowing creeping up, now in the early to mid 30s according to the most recent data from GoodLord.
But even those with experience of owning their own home, who have now switched to renting, can often be caught out by a surprise or two.
Here are 10 things you should, and shouldn’t, do when renting:
1. Be thorough when viewing properties
This is no different to viewing properties to buy – emotion can take over and that means potentially failing to recognise when a property actually isn’t right for you.
If you can, take someone you trust with you when viewing rental properties.
Because they aren’t invested in the property, there’s a chance they’ll spot things you won’t.
2. Always rent through a trusted lettings agent
There are plenty of options when it comes to your rental property search.
You can search online through Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket, but you can also search other property listing sites or even the free ads of the local paper.
Renting through a well-established lettings agent gives you peace of mind on several fronts.
Firstly, your landlord has chosen to protect themselves and their property by using a letting agent, meaning your rental property will be up to standard and compliant with all major legislation surrounding lettings.
Secondly, renting through an agent means you can be sure your security deposit will be protected and you’ll pay no other initial fees.
It also means you’ll be screened effectively and not allowed to rent a property you can’t afford – which is as much for your benefit as it is your landlord’s.
3. Check out the local amenities
When you’re caught up in the excitement of viewing properties, it can be easy to forget to check out the local area.
How close is the property you’re keen on to things like shops, the GP surgery, transport links or close family.
When you rent a property, you’re not just renting bricks and mortar – you’re renting the area as much as the property, so make sure it works for you.
4. Think like a buyer
Okay, so you’re renting, which means, at some point, you’ll be moving on to another property.
But if you can adopt the mindset of a buyer, you’ll quickly find that you change your approach when viewing properties to rent.
Buyers are investing in their future and are far less likely to settle for things that aren’t quite right.
Neither should you.
Even if you’re renting, the property you eventually sign a tenancy agreement on is going to be your home for some time.
So, look at it like an investment in yourself.
5. Consider all costs
It’s massively important to budget effectively when renting a property for the first time.
And by budgeting, we mean consider all costs associated with that property.
Don’t just factor in your rent. There are a multitude of other expenses when renting, like:
- Utility bills
- Council tax
- Ground rent and maintenance (for flats)
All of these things can impact the affordability of the property you want to rent, so make sure you factor them in.
1. Make a knee-jerk decision
Even when the rental market is moving quickly and you feel under pressure to make a decision on a property quickly, only do so if you’re 100% certain the property is right for you.
Even if you don’t think so at the time, there are plenty more fish in the sea – and plenty more properties on the rental market.
Better to miss out on a property that isn’t 100% right for you than make a quick decision and regret it later.
2. Forget after work hours
So, you’ve visited the most amazing flat during your lunchbreak and are set on putting down a holding deposit.
Try to visit the area, and even the property if possible, once everyone is home from work.
That perfect property might have the most imperfect neighbours, or the pub five doors down that seemed so quiet at 1pm might see dozens of drinkers spill out on to the street outside the property at 11pm.
3. Sign the tenancy agreement without reading it properly
You’d be surprised how many tenants do this.
Always read the tenancy agreement in full and flag up anything you don’t understand, or you’re concerned about.
Tenancy agreements will usually outline things you’re responsible for that you might not have considered – like upkeep of the garden or paying for a parking space.
4. Neglect to run through the inventory and take pictures
The inventory report is the document that outlines the condition your rental property is in when you move in.
So, it’s massively important to raise anything you don’t agree with and take photographic evidence to back you up.
For instance, if the inventory reports that a carpet is in perfect condition but you spot a burn mark and don’t report it on the inventory, you could be made liable.
5. Forget to insure your things
If you’re moving into an unfurnished rental property, it’s your responsibility to get adequate insurance to cover your belongings during your tenancy.
Your landlord should have buildings insurance to cover the property, but they are not responsible for your contents – you are.