In 2005 1 in 5 young adults lived with their parents, but now it’s risen to 1 in 4 thanks to low salaries that don’t line up with inflation and housing prices. But renting for the first time, whether it’s with a friend or two or your first place on your own can be your ticket out of living under your parents’ roof. Ideally, you’ll want somewhere to call home for the next three years (anything less and your credit rating could suffer). So it’s important that you do it right. Here’s some of our very best tips and tricks to renting for the first time.
Finding the right place
Actually finding the right place is one of the most stressful things to deal with when renting for the first time. Not only is it time-consuming but it’s frustrating if you can’t find your ideal home. Write down a list of must-haves for your new home. Visualise exactly what you want and need. Choose around 3 must-haves from your list and stick to them. Be strict with yourself and ask yourself the following questions:
- What kind of area are you looking for? Lively? Peaceful? Community-orientated?
- How would the council tax be?
- Is the property a commutable distance to work?
- If you’ve got a car, is there a space for parking?
- Where are the nearest shops and amenities?
- How much will utilities cost on average per month?
- Are the neighbours friendly / at least bearable?
- How much storage space is there?
- What are the unique features of the property?
Always try and view the house during the daylight so you can check out any wear and tear in the house or any external noise from traffic, public transport, people, etc. It’s a great idea to view the property at different times in the day/night so you can compare the contrasts in the neighbourhood. Bring a tape measure so you can determine whether your existing furniture will fit or if you’ll need to invest in some new furniture. When viewing a house make sure to document it by taking photos and videos to refer back to when you’re comparing all the houses. After all…your memory can play tricks on you. Most importantly, visualise yourself in the property. Your home should fit in with your lifestyle.
Letting agent fees
If you’ve found your new home, you’ll need to take into account all the extra costs. As well as a deposit, you may need to pay letting agent fees. You can be charged for a range of things including administration, reference checks, immigrations checks and credit checks. There are talks in parliament to ban letting agent fees – but it’s unfortunately just in the consultation phase at the moment. So it’s important to factor in these extra costs. By law, all letting agents must display additional fees on their website and in their offices, so you know how much you’re going to have to pay.
If you want to avoid letting agent fees you can go ‘direct to landlord.’ This means going the traditional route and looking in the paper or finding properties via websites such as Open Rent and the advanced settings of Spare Room (click on ‘Whole properties’ instead of houseshares).
Deposits and inventory
Make sure your landlord protects your deposit within 30 days of receipt. They should give you exact details on the scheme they’ve used to protect it and how you can get the full amount back. The deposit scheme ensures:
- That your deposit will be returned within 10 days of the tenancy ending.
- You’ll get the full amount back if you’ve followed the terms of your tenancy agreement
- You get access to a free dispute resolution service if you and your landlord disagree with the amount of deposit you should get back
When it comes to the inventory make sure you take photos of everything including carpets, walls, curtains, appliances – especially if there is slight damage. This is because the landlord could try to charge you for damage that wasn’t made by you. So it’s way better to back yourself up with photographic evidence, should you need it. Confirm the landlord’s contact details so you know he or she is easily reachable if a problems happens.
What questions should I ask my landlord?
Just before moving day, it’s a great idea to ask your landlord a list of questions. Here’s a few really important ones!
- Where’s the electricity / gas meter?
- Where’s the fuse box?
- Who is the energy supplier?
- Who is the broadband supplier?
- Where’s the TV aerial / phone sockets?
- Is there a satellite dish already installed?
- Where’s the thermostat?
- When are the bin collection / recycling collection days?
- Where do I put my rubbish?
- Do I need a parking permit for this road? Where’s the best place to park?
- What’s the best contact details to catch you on?
Good luck with renting for the first time – we hope you enjoy your new home and new-found freedom!