Property ownership is not for everyone and to some the concept of renting offers a degree of freedom and flexibility. In parts of Europe, renting is the preferred option and the benefits include: no long-term mortgage commitments, freedom to move around and peace of mind in terms of property maintenance and upkeep expenses. For others, buying may be their long-term objective, so whilst saving for a deposit, renting makes for a short-to- medium-term option. Renting also offers you a chance to “try before you buy” in terms of location.
Before viewing any properties, take time to prepare, especially if you are moving to a new area. Work out your essential requirements and if this is your first move, it’s important to understand the costs involved. Aside from the monthly rent, a tenant is usually responsible to pay for all their utilities including gas, electric, water rates and council tax. Other potential costs include phone and internet connections, a T.V. licence, removal or van hire and perhaps a resident parking permit. You will usually be required to pay one month’s rent in advance, a tenancy deposit (also called a damage deposit) and agency fees.
Any reputable agent will carry out a credit check and apply for references to establish exactly how much money the agent / landlord requires from you before parting with a holding deposit to secure a property.
Finding a Property
Having established your requirements, browse the internet using popular sites such as www.rightmove.co.uk, www.zoopla.co.uk, www.primelocation.com and www.findaproperty.com. Each will have a search function enabling you to seek out the properties that best match your criteria. It’s always worth bearing in mind an asking price is simply that and whilst some landlords will be prepared to negotiate on price, others will be looking for their full asking price. Do keep this in mind when setting the maximum price range on the search function. Don't forget, the rental market can be very quick moving and in some instances a property can be let on the very first viewing so be prepared to view at the earliest opportunity.
In addition to the internet property portals, contact the local letting agents and register your details, asking to be informed when a new property matching your requirements comes to the market. This can usually be done by telephone, text alert and/or by e-mail so ask to be kept informed of new properties matching your requirements. To register with us is completely free.
Where applicable you will have access to the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) available from the agent or landlord. The EPC, amongst other information, will provide an overview of how energy efficient the property is. A property with good insulation and an efficient heating system will require less energy and therefore less expense to run compared to a similar property with draughty windows and an old boiler.
Securing a Property and Moving In
Upon finding a property you would like to rent and having negotiated various terms of the lettings, such as the monthly rental figure, the tenancy start date, period of tenancy and any conditions of the proposed letting.
You will be required to secure your interest with a payment, often referred to as a non-refundable holding deposit or security payment. Depending on the agent and their procedures, the taking of your holding deposit demonstrates your commitment to proceed and the property is then taken off the market allowing credit checks and referencing to take place.
With satisfactory credit checking and the references obtained, an appointment can be fixed to conclude the process involving the signing of the tenancy agreement, payment of any outstanding monies (rent in advance, deposit and fees) and the issuing of keys.
It’s important to plan ahead - contact the utility companies and the local council as soon as possible so as to transfer the supply and council tax account into your name.
Before You Commit, Here Are a Few Points to Consider and Questions to Ask the Agent
There can be a lot to think about when going through the process of finding and agreeing on a rental property, so a reputable agent will ensure that you are carefully taken through each step. However, for your own protection it is worth checking the following points with your agent or landlord:
If you put down a holding deposit, will this ensure the property is taken off the market?
If you intend on keeping a pet will the landlord agree to this?
Having a garden can be a great feature; however, be sure you can take on the maintenance and upkeep of the garden as this will usually be your responsibility.
How will you protect your belongings? Have you looked into taking out contents insurance?
Will your deposit be protected and what procedures apply at the end of the tenancy in terms of getting your deposit back?
Who will be managing the property, the landlord or the agent?
Ultimately the agent is employed by the landlord although any reputable agent will do everything they can to help facilitate a smooth move for all concerned. Our team of experts will be more than happy to answer any questions you have, so do feel free to pop along to our office for a chat and some advice about renting a property.