The first question on everyone’s mind: the cost. Start by double-checking how much rent will cost, the deposit amount, and if any bills (such as water or electricity) are included.
You’ll disappoint yourself if you find out the rent is higher than you can afford so it’s always good to find out first. If it feels too high, double-check first what’s included. Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate! Doing some research into the prices of similar properties in the local area, or agreeing to pay a few months' rent upfront, can help lead to a happy compromise.
This one is very important, is there cladding? Cladding isn’t always dangerous, but certain types can be, this includes Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) and Metal Composite Materials (MCM).
If the building has this in place, ask what is being done about it, and make sure you’re happy with all the information you are given before you leave.
Your safety is incredibly important, so it’s good to have alarms that let you know when it is being compromised. Double-check with the landlord to see if there are any smoke, carbon monoxide or intruder alarms, or if any are due to being installed.
Alarm systems can help bring down home insurance costs, as well as protect you from nasty surprises. While you’re at it, familiarise yourself with where the fire escapes are.
- On-going issues
On-going issues can take the shape of roof leakages, electrical issues or even pest infestation. Your landlord should disclose any problems, but make sure you ask, just in case.
- Energy performance certificate (EPC)
With the rise of inflation and the cost of living, the EPC is important if you’re hoping to save on energy bills. All properties should be above an E rating, but remember that ‘super homes’ – homes that reduce their carbon footprint by at least 60% – might be more expensive.
Definitely ask about storage – there might be more than meets the eye. Additionally, if the property comes with a garage, double-check that you’re able to use it, as the landlord may be using it themselves.
Asking about decorating your home can be important if customisation is key to you feeling comfortable. Double-check if you can hang pictures or fixtures, such as bookshelves, or if you can even paint the walls.
Some landlords may have just redecorated before renting the property, and therefore might not enjoy the idea of someone undoing all that hard work. Double-check how they feel about changing the look of their flat, as they might not even be comfortable with the use of Blu Tack on their walls.
- White goods
Consider whether white goods (washing machines, tumble dryers, fridges, etc.) are included in the property, as this could save you time and money on investing in already provided equipment.
- Car parking
Car parking can cause issues very quickly, so if you’re planning on bringing your vehicle with you, check to see if you have a spot and whether you need a permit.
Parking etiquette can be important for maintaining relationships with neighbouring properties, so ask if there are any rules that others follow. Also, double-check what procedures are for moving vans – they may end up unintentionally blocking neighbours in.
- Property management
Sometimes it may be an estate agent instead of the property owner showing you around. If so, double-check to see who will be managing the property, and who to turn to if you have any further questions or issues.
Also, ask about maintenance fees. If you have a shared garden or courtyard, you may be asked to help pay for the upkeep.
The direction of the property can play an important part in how you remember your experience there. The direction of the building can mean limited or extra exposure to sun, both of which could be a hindrance or a blessing.
Sometimes landlords will provide furniture with your apartment to sweeten the deal or make moving in easier. This may include bed frames, sofas, TV stands, etc. If so, ask when looking around if the furniture will be included.
If you have come from a property where you had to provide all of your own furniture, it might be difficult to have to suddenly find storage for your bed frame. If you’re not keen on having their furniture, ask if it can be removed before turning up on moving day to find it’s still there.
Whilst new regulations mean that it should be easier for renters to find accommodation for themselves and their beloved pets, this isn’t always the case, and you may find your landlord would prefer if they weren’t there.
Letting your landlord know ahead of time that you’d like to bring your pet along may work out in the long run. You could potentially set up a viewing with your pet to prove to the owner how well-behaved they are – we’ve even heard of instances where people are providing pet CVs!
- Break clause
Checking if there is a break clause in your contract can be the lifeline you didn’t know you needed. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way you planned and asking for a break clause could save you a lot of money and stress in the future.
Lastly, ask about the neighbours. Everyone hopes to have lovely neighbours they can pop round and see with a banana loaf, but life doesn’t always work out like that. Check to see what your landlord says about them.
Think about what might disturb you in your new home, and look into anything you think might cause trouble.