As a prospective tenant, it’s likely you'll be attending at least one or two viewings before moving in somewhere. Let's face it, there's only so much you can tell from property descriptions and online images. With this in mind, how should you approach viewings and what sort of questions do you need to ask?
What local amenities are nearby?
You may think the you’ve found the perfect property, but what about the local amenities that surround it? If you have you drive miles to get to the kids school or local shops it’ll be of no use to you. Ask whoever if showing you around about the local area and what to expect.
How long is the initial tenancy agreement for?
The majority of tenancies will be for 12 months. However, it’s still worthwhile to ask how long the contract is going to be as some landlords may only be offering a short-term agreement such as six months. Also ask what happens after the initial tenancy term is up, will it roll into a month-by-month (periodic) tenancy or can you renew for another fixed term? Check with you landlord / agent.
When will the rent be due and how should it be paid?
Rent due dates are normally the date you sign your tenancy agreement. However, some landlord prefer the rent to be paid at the start of every month, so be sure to ask so you can plan your finances.
How much is the deposit and is there any holding deposit required?
Your security deposit is likely to be in the region of one month’s rent and will need to be paid up front. By law, it needs to be protected in one of the government registration schemes and you have to be informed of which scheme your deposit is held in. Ask which deposit scheme the landlord / agent intends to use.
Some landlords / agents require a holding deposit. This is a sum of money to prove you are a serious prospective tenant, but should be capped at one week’s rent. This holding deposit should then be taken off your first month’s rent.
What about pets and redecorating?
Every landlord has their own policy on these, with some more accommodating than others. It’s important to know what their views are from the start, as it could prevent you from getting into a dispute when you decide to vacate the property.
Landlords may be open to you redecorating certain rooms to your taste, if you agree in advance or for example they may agree if you use professional decorators. However, they may still say no. If you really can’t see yourself living in the property in the style it is currently, it may not be the one for you. Redecorating a property without your landlord’s permission is a sure fire way to lose part of your deposit, as what you consider to be an improvement may not be the same as your landlord!
How energy efficient is the property?
In a nutshell, the newer the property, the better chance of it having a high energy rating, however there are improvements landlords can make to older properties to bring them up to similar standards, so don’t assume. If you’re concerned ask to see a copy of the EPC report when viewing the property.
Is there anything else I need to know?
You could be living here for months or even years, so it’s important to ask questions that are specific to your circumstances, no matter how obvious or irrelevant they may seem.
The list outlined above is not exhaustive, but should help towards finding your perfect home. If you need any further help or advice, just give us a call!