Renting your first home is a very exciting prospect. If you’ve never had your own place, it’s a time of huge possibilities and independence. It’s not all plain sailing, however, and doing your research as well as understanding what you need to have in place and what your responsibilities are going to be are all important.
Here’s our quick guide for getting it right.
1. Have Your Finances in Order
Renting a property is probably going to be your biggest monthly financial outlay. Our first tip, therefore, is to make sure you are prepared. You must have enough money saved up so that you can cope with any eventuality, especially in the first few months. Don’t be tempted to overstretch yourself or that you can juggle your finances if things are tight.
Not only will you need to find the monthly rent but in the initial stages, you’ll require a deposit and perhaps a holding deposit (where the landlord keeps the property open for you while the tenancy is agreed).
2. Getting Your Paperwork Together
If you have all the money saved, make sure you also have your paperwork together. As a first-time renter, you might be asked for references even though you have never had a landlord before. You will probably also be asked for proof of income and you will need to provide proof of residency in the UK. Make sure you have all this to hand in one place.
3. Searching for a Property
The next step is to start looking for a home. It’s important to know what you ideally want to help focus your search. There are a lot of options out there including single flats, semi-detached properties and houses in multiple occupation. You should decide how long you are going to rent for as some landlords offer short tenancies while others are searching for long term renters.
The area you choose to rent a property is also going to be an important factor and can impact on rental costs. You need to find an area that is within your budget range but which is also close enough to important amenities such as train and bus routes as well as shops.
It’s useful to make a list of what your ideal rental property looks like and what you absolutely need and what you can live without if push comes to shove.
4. Viewing Properties
The competition for rental properties can be quite high in certain areas of the country, especially city locations like London. It’s sensible to go through a reputable letting or estate agent that can get to know your needs and tailor their approach to find what you are looking for.
When you view a property, make sure you check all rooms and keep an eye out for any problems such as damp or disrepair. It’s important to check online to make sure you’re not moving into an area that, for example, has a high crime rate.
It can be tempting to rush into things when there is so much competition from other tenants but it’s well worth holding back to make sure you are making the right decision.
5. Signing the Rental Contract
It’s vital that you read the tenancy agreement properly before you sign it and hand over your deposit. If you have any doubts at all, have it checked over by a solicitor.
You should also have an inventory that states the condition of the property and lists things like fixtures and fittings and their condition. Go through this very carefully and take photos to act as your own record in addition to the inventory, just in case there is a dispute when you decide to leave.
Finally, don’t forget to take meter readings for the gas, electric and water (if applicable) when you first move in so that you don’t end up paying for someone else’s utilities.