I can’t believe it was 2014 when I graduated from university. That means I’ve been in London for over 3 years now. Absolute crazy times guys. Since moving to London, I have moved twice and each time, I’ve learnt a fair bit about renting as a tenant. HomeLet are currently running a campaign called #RentingRules, which is looking for top renting rules for both landlords and tenants.
I wanted to create my content from the view point of a tenant because renting in London is a mixed bag of outcomes. We’ve gone from a really good property to a not so good property and it’s only from this experience, that we’ve learnt what to look out for when we come to move again.
Look for properties a month or so before
If it were possible for me to search for a property now to rent in a year’s time, I’d jump at the chance. There’s nothing more stressful than doing it weeks before you’re due to move either as a first timer or from another property. Depending on your ‘moving in date‘, I would recommend you start searching for properties around a month or a month and half. A lot of estate agencies will offer a range of properties that are available immediately or in a month’s time. A month is enough time for you to search for the ideal property and still have enough time to move any furniture and sort out bills, internet, council tax etc before you move in.
Shop around with different letting agents
Don’t stick with just one letting agent, shop around to see all agents selling in your area. An agency may only have a small handful of the available properties in the desired area, so you’re already limiting yourself to what you can pick from!
Explore the area beforehand
One of the common mistakes when moving to a new area is that not enough research into a new town or place has been done by the tenant so you often quickly uncover perhaps some negatives that you didn’t see before. My advice would be to explore the area both by day and by night. A town can quickly change it’s atmosphere by the evening so it’s about making sure you feel safe at all times in your new neighbourhood.
Make sure all hidden charges are exposed
Agencies can be sneaky snakes so when they advertise X amount as a deposit, they don’t tend to include their ‘admin fees‘ and any extra additional costs they can put down as being necessary. Therefore, when it comes to putting a deposit down, make sure you’ve uncovered any hidden charges so that when you hand over your credit card, you know the final amount required.
Expect to pay two month’s rent or more as a deposit
It’s no surprise that going with a letting agent is more costly but renting privately with a landlord may come with more risks. It’s the norm in deposits that you’re required to pay up a month’s rent and a month’s rent in advance. This has been absolutely crippling to my bank balance in the past and hence why our last move will be our last one before buying a property. If you’re renting in London, be warned that deposits will likely be over £1,000 per person. I know right, why do I live here?
Make sure your deposit is protected
I cannot stress enough to make sure your deposits are protected. This means that both yourself and the landlord are covered in the event of a dispute. The main one is DPS who cover deposit protection to tenancies in England and Wales.
When visiting a property, interrogate the letting agent
If I could go back to the point where we were looking around our current flat, I would have looking at every exposed pipe and brick wall and immediately said no. I would have looked at the obvious damp problems that had been covered up with paint and walked out of that flat as fast as I could. When you’re a seasoned renter, you’ll start to learn what to look for in a property ESPECIALLY when it’s an old building. Don’t feel embarrassed to interrogate the letting agent and ask them all of the questions so that you’re satisfied you won’t encounter any problems.
If possible, have a guarantor who will help you in an emergency
Having a guarantor (which is someone who’s able to pay your rent if you’re ever unable to) is a safety net that you may not think you need but is actually a lifesaver if you ever find yourself in a unexpected situation where you can’t pay rent. At university, it was mandatory that we had guarantors because we were students and well…it was rightly so the estate agents couldn’t trust students with their finances. When you’re in full-time employment it’s not always a requirement but a spoken or written contract between yourself and your guarantor is handy to have.
Know your rights as a tenant
I can only imagine there’s been many times where the wool has been pulled over a tenant’s eyes by a landlord or letting agent. It’s important to know your rights as a tenant and the best place for this is through the Gov.UK website. There’s plenty of advice regarding all aspects of renting and owning property in relation to you as a tenant.
Did you find this helpful? Let me know in the comments below.
*Disclaimer – This is a collaborative post with HomeLet. All words are my own.