Questions to ask when renting a property25/11/20
So you have found the perfect property to rent. Congratulations! But before you rush headlong into signing on the dotted line here is a list of essential questions you should ask beforehand.
Who will be managing the property and what happens if anything goes wrong? Letting agents should be clear about who you the tenant would contact to fix any problems, and if it's the landlord, they should be able to give you some details about how this will work.
How much will the bills be and am I responsible for them?
While some landlords include bills in the rental payment, others may expect you to pay them separately which will of course impact upon the amount of your monthly outgoings. The tenancy agreement should state if your landlord will be paying the gas and electricity. If sharing the bills with other tenants, you’ll need to consider who will be tasked with this and how payments will be split each month.
How much is the council tax?
As rates are different across the country and properties fall under different valuation bands it’s a good idea to ensure how much your council tax will be and whether you or the landlord will be responsible for paying this. More about council tax can be found at https://www.gov.uk/council-tax
How long is the rental/contract term?
Don’t think it is safe to assume the tenancy will have a 12 month lease agreement as the landlord may only be offering a short term agreement. It’s necessary to discover what happens after the tenancy ends too. You can ask to see a contract before paying anything. A good letting agent should be able to send you a draft standard contract to look over before you commit.
At the viewing, ask to see a copy of the property's certificates.
These include the energy performance certificate (EPC) and gas and electrical safety certificates. If the letting agent doesn't have them to hand at the viewing, they should be able to follow up with an email providing them, and definitely provide them before the tenancy starts. The better the rating the EPC gives the property, the lower your utility bills are likely to be and consequently you’ll be able to make savings on heating.
Are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms fitted and checked?
The letting agent should know the rules on smoke alarms, for example in England, this is to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. This includes a coal fire, and wood burning stove. Ideally, carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted as a matter of course, which is the case in Scotland.
What is included when I rent?
Is the potential new home furnished or unfurnished? You need to ascertain what is included at the outset, as when you eventually move in you may discover that the lovely furniture actually belonged to the previous tenant. Ask about washing machines, fridges, light fittings, curtains, everything you can see prior to becoming a tenant.
What are the local amenities?
Do you need nearby schools? Local transport? Shops? A gym? It’s worth finding out about these beforehand. Ask whoever shows you around the property for any insider knowledge too. For example, if you’re moving to a new area, places where you might get to know other people.
Who are your next door neighbours?
It’s useful to know who lives next door. Are they older? Young? Do they have children, or pets? Key to a happy tenancy is understanding who you’ll be living adjacent to. Everybody needs good neighbours.
Who is responsible for what?
If you’re in a property that has areas in common such as a hallway, kitchen or garden, you need to work out who is responsible for which area. Even if you’re not sharing the property with someone else, the tenancy agreement may commit you to certain obligations such as maintaining the garden. Are you responsible for cutting the grass and maintaining the plants?
What about the heating and water?
It’s useful to know what kind of boiler is installed in the property. If it’s a combi boiler, you’ll get hot water all the time, while you’ll have to heat up a standard boiler, which could possibly be an issue if you’re sharing with other people.
You should ask the landlord whether there’s a service agreement in place for your boiler and other services and what will happen if it breaks down. Ask if there’s a 24 hour phone number you’ll be able to call in an emergency and find out where the mains switches are in the building.
What improvements will I be allowed to make?
Many tenancy agreements don’t allow you to decorate or make any changes to the interior - after all, not every tenant has a talent for interior design, so it is worth working out what you can or cannot do. You may not even be able to hang pictures without forfeiting your deposit so you need some clarity on this before you move in.
What’s the internet connection like?
We all need a good internet, whether it's for gaming, shopping or working from home so internet speed is an important consideration when renting a property.
What is transport and parking like?
Parking is at a premium in many areas so if you have a car you need to ensure how much extra you might need to pay for the privilege. Checking public transport links is also essential.
What’s it like at night?
It’s worth finding out what the area is like after dark. Is it safe to walk alone at night? Also check out the options for getting home at night and how much taxi fares might cost into town.
If you are about to rent a property we can help so please don’t hesitate to contact us at: