2 September 2016

Renting Advice

Before putting down a deposit, I'd recommend following up on the following topics at your viewing, with the landlord or agency. For more information and guidance, see gov.uk.

The basics

  • Rent - What is your total income minus rent, bills, food, insurance, travel, etc. Can you really afford it and save up enough for the future?
  • Furnished - What stays and what goes? Things like beds, tables, television, microwave, washing machine/tumble drier, sofas, chairs, desks, racks.
  • Other viewings - How many other people have been or are coming to see it? From this you'll know how fast you need to respond.
  • All bills - Some contracts may advertise all bills but actually don't - often TV Licence is excluded, but from 1st Sept 2016, TV licences will be required even if you don't watch live TV.
  • Share bills - Are you all sharing the bills, who is in charge, and where does the money go?
  • Cleaner - Is there a cleaner for communal areas and perhaps your own room? Is there a rota for all housemates to cover, and who buys cleaning products etc.?
  • Landlord availability - How long does it take for the landlord to sort things out?
    • Does the landlord ever live in? Generally I wouldn't recommend these.
    • If you have issues what is the process - Estate Agent first or landlord first? Usually it depends on the issue.
  • Why moving out - Why is the room available? Why did the person move out?
  • Parking - Is there on-land parking, on-street parking, and parking for visitors? Are permits needed?

Health and safety

  • Security
    • Police.uk - Check this website for crime rates and types in the area.
    • Security history check - You are allowed to ask the agent if there have there been any burglaries or any other criminal activities recorded at the property within the last couple of years. You can also ask the police or firemen to inspect the property for weaknesses.
    • Door and window security - Do all external-facing doors have a rim/mortice lock or a rim latch lock, or a lever handle lock? Each have varying degrees of safety and how easy they are to break in.
    • Keys - Do you get your own set of keys for your room, windows, and other doors?
    • Windows - Do they all open, are they clean, who cleans them?
    • Street lamps - Are there visible street lights from the window that could distract you in the night? Is there adequate street lighting at all for safety? Are there security flood lights?
  • Hygenie
    • Mice, rats, slugs - Check if there are any signs of them, and check for holes
    • Damp, mold, condensation - Check for moist walls, especially against the walls that on the building like near windows. Also check for where sections of walls have been painted over as this may be to cover up damage or damp.
    • Pollution check - Check the government maps and see what the pollution is like
  • Insurance - Do you have enough that you want to be insured?
    • Age of property - you will need this when setting up contents insurance
  • Fire and gas safety
    • Fire extinguishers - (only required if H.M.O. property so flats don't usually apply) Are the indicators in the green zone? Is there at least 1 on every level?
    • Fire exit - Is there a clear exit on every level?
    • Fire/smoke alarm - Is there one and is it working? Note that some alarms are multi-function, so a carbon monoxide alarm may also detect heat or smoke.
    • Carbon monoxide detector - (Gas property only) Is there one near the boiler and is it working? 
    • Gas safe - Are the boilers gas safe and checked within the last year?
      • British Gas Home Care - Is the property covered by this? I'd recommend it for immediate and professional cover of gas/electric issues.
    • EPC and Gas Certificate - Each property must have an EPC and annual gas certificate in order to evict a tenant, but are not required in order to rent the property

Policies


  • Pets - Are you allowed to keep or bring over pets?
  • Partners and guests - are you allowed to have anyone over? Friends, guests, partners etc. How many nights per week is too many?
  • Rubbish and recycling - where are they bins stored and how often are they emptied? Who's job is it to take out the rubbish?

Comfort and convenience

  • Storage - What's the policy on storage, and is there enough room for all your stuff? If not, will the landlord allow you to get cabinets or an Otterman bed?
  • Noise - Are the windows double-glazed? Is it noisy in the area - do you need silence to sleep? You're looking for traffic noise from nearby roads and motorways, noisy neighbours, and transport like trains and airports nearby.
  • Sunlight - Is the sunlight coming into your room - would it be a distraction - or is there no sunlight at all. Too much will discolor the walls and not enough means the room might be colder.

Utilities


  • Washing and drying - Is there a washing machine, dryer, and what is the policy on using airers/horses in your room/other rooms?
  • Bathroom - Is there an extractor fan and if so, is it working?
  • Hot water - How long does it take to get hot water from a tap? Is it mild or piping hot?
  • Broadband and 4G speed - the Ofcom checker tells you what you can get nearby
  • WiFi strength - If there is no signal in your room, you might need to consider extending the WiFi or using Powerline
  • Latest router and specs - How old is the router? Newer ones are likely to be dual band, and grade b/g/n/ac.

Features and fittings

  • Lighting replacement - who will replace the lightbulbs and batteries for fire alarms etc/? Are any of the light fittings loose or not working?
  • Wall mounts - Are you allowed to pin or stick anything up? Often white-tac is allowed, but some places may give permission to pin things up like paintings or hooks for keys/jackets.
  • Plugs - Are there enough of them in the room, are they in good condition, and are they in a good place for where you stuff will be?
  • Extra switches - sometimes properties have extra switches next to the lights, what do they do?