Renting your First Home
Home rentals have increased in the last few years and the vast majority of renters are satisfied with their arrangements.
If you are taking the first step towards finding a suitable rental property, we've compiled a comprehensive list of things you should know and questions to ask:
Finding the right location
Your budget may pretty much determine the location where you will find the best properties and you may well have to look at broadening your options when it comes to staying close to family and friends.
Access to the Internet now makes it far easier to track down affordable locations and let you work out a budget so that you can look at a property you can afford - in the best possible area. Finding the right property can be a lengthy process, so it's always a good idea to register with letting agents who will be able to give you a list of suitable rental properties.
View the Property during the day
Take the time to make arrangements to view a potential rental property during the day, when you will be able to see any flaws. Go through the rooms and check that aircons, lights and taps work and that windows open, and that all appliances are in good working order. Don’t let low rent tempt you into opting for somewhere with damp or mouldy which could adversely affect your health.
GOOD TO KNOW: Be very wary of damp patches or black spores on walls or ceilings, a musty atmosphere and excessive condensation on windows.
Ask about any security measures in place and whether there’s much noise from neighbours or traffic. Look for window locks complete with keys, patio door locks and a working burglar alarm. Consider access from the rear or via a side alley, and find out whether the building has exterior lighting to deter would-be burglars.
The overall condition of the property will provide a huge clue as to whether it is well maintained. Peeling paintwork, rotten doors or window frames, and cracked panes of glass will all indicate that profits come first, and a messy, unloved garden will obviously give cause for concern. Look at the state of communal areas like the hallways, communal gardens, stairs and landings, and find out who is responsible for the maintenance.
An Affordable Rental Property
Rental prices are pretty much determined by location and size of a property, but you can always do some online research to see whether rents for houses or apartments you are interested in seem reasonable. However, also take into consideration that rental rates aren't just based on the number of rooms and other factors including size and overall condition will also come into play.
Working with a Letting Agent
Finding a letting agent via word of mouth is a good way to find a good one, but you also want to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable agency that finds you the right property, at the right price, in a safe location. Additionally, if you deal with a letting agent rather than directly with the landlord, you can communicate with them regarding any future problems with the property that need attention.
Make sure to discuss the rental agreement in detail and ask the right questions. How long is the lease for? What deposit is required? Who is responsible for necessary repairs? etc.
GOOD TO KNOW: You should also request an inventory of everything that’s in the property and its condition. Take photos as soon as you move in, in case of any disputes later on. If you don't understand anything in the inventory - ask the landlord or letting agent to explain any points you don’t understand.
Communication is key to resolving any problems that arise as quickly as possible. Report problems with the property to the landlord or letting agent as soon as you’re aware of them, and don’t refuse access for inspection or repairs – your tenancy agreement will give details of the notice your landlord needs to give you, usually 24 or 48 hours.
Finding a Fair Landlord
Not all rental properties are let through an agent and there are more than a few where you deal directly with the landlord. If this is the case, make sure to ask all the right questions before you sign any agreement.
Discuss the rental agreement in detail and determine the term of the agreement. Most agreements are for a fixed term of at least a year, with a notice period of before the end of the contract. However, there are agreements where the landlord or owner has the right to put the property up for sale during the term of the agreement, which can be a major problem if you have to move out when the property is sold.
If the rental property is in desperate need of some TLC or minor repairs, make sure to discuss this in advance. Many landlords won’t allow you to paint or otherwise decorate without consent. However they might be more flexible if you offer to return walls to their original state by filling any holes you’ve made and repainting when you leave. The rental agreement should contain a clause stipulating exactly what – if any – alternations you can make, but if it doesn't, make sure you have any approval in writing before you go to the expense of buying materials.