10 things to ask when viewing a rental property
Searching for a new rental?
As a prospective tenant, you’ll probably be attending at least one or two viewings before you make your mind up about moving in somewhere. After all, there’s only so much you can tell about a place from looking at the online gallery and property descriptions.
It pays to be prepared for viewings. You can always rely on letting agents and landlords to proactively offer the information you need about your potential new home, so make sure you’re armed with the right questions.
Here are ten key questions you should ask when viewing a rental property – regarding pets, parking, and more.
1. What local amenities are nearby?
You may have found a rental home that ticks all the right boxes in terms of size, style, and cost. However, if the local amenities don’t suit your needs, then it’s not the property for you.
When viewing a property, ask the letting agent or landlord about the local area. Are local shops within walking distance, or will you have to drive into the nearest town when you need milk and a loaf of bread? Is there a gym close by? If you have children, you want to be near schools and parks.
Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s a sensible idea to carry out your own research to verify what you’ve been told.
2. What are the neighbours like?
Everybody needs good neighbours. Whilst you’re viewing a rental property, try to find out a little bit about who lives on either side. A young family could mean early mornings and a group of 20-somethings might mean late nights.
There’s no guarantee that letting agents will be able to tell you much about the neighbours, but it’s worth asking so you can consider how your lifestyle will impact those around you.
3. How much is the deposit?
Don’t be afraid to ask either the landlord or the letting agent about the deposit.
Often, the damage deposit is somewhere in the region of 4-5 weeks rent and is required to be paid upfront. Some landlords require a holding deposit as well, so it’s a good idea to double-check.
See which government deposit scheme they will use, too. At Easylet Residential, our letting agents use the DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme) to secure tenants’ deposits and resolve disputes.
4. What is the duration of the contract?
Most tenancies have 12-month lease agreements, but it’s worth asking how long the contract will be, as some landlords may be offering a short-term agreement (e.g. 6 months).
Bear in mind that the rental term can be negotiable depending on the landlord and your preferences. Find out the official start date so you can organise your move-in schedule accordingly.
5. What bills will I be responsible for?
In most cases, tenants will need to pay all household-related bills associated with the rental property.
Ask the landlord for an estimate of what the previous tenants paid per month, and whether you can switch energy and broadband providers to the cheapest deal. It’s also in your best interests to make sure that service charges, building insurance, and ground rent are covered by the property owner, not you.
6. How efficient is the property?
Nobody wants to pay more on their energy bills than they have to. Checking how energy efficient your potential new home is could save you hundreds of pounds each year.
Typically, newer properties are more efficient and have a higher rating – but that’s not to say landlords can’t improve the efficiency of older properties.
At the viewing, ask if you can view a copy of the energy performance certificate (EPC) and gas and electric safety certificates. Sometimes, letting agents don’t have these to hand, but they should be able to email them across to you before the tenancy starts.
7. If anything goes wrong, who is my first point of contact?
Problems crop up in most properties, and it’s only natural that you want to know who you should contact if/when it does.
The last thing you want to do is call the letting agent when it’s your landlord who deals with any disputes.
As a general rule of thumb, letting agents should inform you who you should get in touch with should you encounter any problems during your tenancy. Asking this question at the viewing first will clear up any confusion and give you peace of mind.
8. Are pets allowed?
When it comes to renting with furry friends, all landlords have their own policies – with some being more lenient than others.
Finding out if the landlord is willing for you to keep pets will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether you sign the contract or look elsewhere. We would never recommend sneaking a pet in without informing the property owner first, even if they are part of your family.
Though we can’t make any promises, if the landlord doesn’t allow furry companions at their rental, their viewpoint may change if you prove to be a reliable tenant.
9. Can I redecorate?
During the viewing, you may find that the décor isn’t to your taste at the rental property – but don’t let that put you off!
Some landlords are more than happy for you to put your own stamp on the place – be it adding a lick of paint to the walls, hanging a mirror in the hall, or fixing a flat-screen TV to the wall. However, you must be clear with any request from the start, as you could end up losing your deposit when your tenancy agreement is up.
If the landlord would prefer you not to redecorate, and you honestly can’t see yourself living in the property in the style it is currently, then it’s best you look for a different house or flat to rent.
10. What is the parking like?
For properties that only come with off-road parking, you need to know whether you require a permit from the local council and, if so, how much it will cost you per year. Can you apply for more than one permit if you’re part of a two-car household?
Depending on how busy the road is, you may end up parking a street away, which can be a nightmare when you need to carry the shopping from the boot of your car – even more so if you have young children.
If you’re viewing a property with allocated parking, ask how many spaces you’ll get and whether residents stick to their assigned spots. Another thing worth checking is whether there are any parking restrictions (i.e. yellow lines, bus stops, etc.), as visitors will need somewhere to park.
For more home viewing tips, contact Easylet Residential. As letting agents in Warrington, we are perfectly placed to help tenants looking for property to rent either in the town centre or surrounding areas, such as Newton-Le-Willows, St Helens, and Widnes.
Simply arrange an appointment at our office or give us a call on 01925 633 011.