Don’t Rent A Property on the Basis of First Impressions

Sometimes, when you’re looking for rooms to rent in London, it can seem to resemble an impossible task and, in your desperation, you may be tempted to fall gratefully upon the first property that comes anywhere near to meeting your requirements. After viewing more than a handful of terrible or substandard properties the first property that’s merely ‘not awful’ might stand out as being wonderful and, before you know it, you’ve committed to renting somewhere which, upon more considered examination, turns out to carry more than its share of problems. Although your response to almost every property you view is going to be overwhelmingly emotional – it either does or doesn’t ‘feel right’ – it’s vital that you keep control of these emotions and view the property in a cool and detached manner. Doing so will allow you to spot any faults or problems which are present and will enable you to make a much better and more fully informed choice.

For this reason it’s vital to take at least three viewings of any property you’re interested in. It’s easy to assume, for example, that the kitchen contains a fridge freezer, because in most of the properties you view this has been the case. Upon closer inspection, however, the property in question might turn out to be equipped only with a fridge that features a small ice box. In order to make sure that you don’t miss anything like this, and to also ensure that you spot any problems present, it’s vital to return to a property more than once and to do so armed with a list of things which you want to check. Don’t be embarrassed about actually having this list written down, if need be, so you can cross out the factors as you examine them.

Amongst the things which you should look at on your second or third viewing are the following:

  • Turn everything on and off – This includes all the lights and appliances such as the cooker and fridge. Any faults should be noted down and repaired before you agree to start renting. An agency which has large numbers of properties to rent, and which is professional enough to bring in a guaranteed rent, should be relied upon to do these kind of checks anyway, but for your own peace of mind make sure you run your own tests.
  • Check the doors and windows – If they don’t open and shut smoothly then this could cause problems with both heat retention and matters of security.
  • Look inside every cupboard, wardrobe and internal door. On a basic level you’ll be noting down the size of any storage space, whilst also making sure that there isn’t anything unpleasant being hidden from you.
  • Check the condition of a roof, if the property has one directly (many flats don’t). Missing or damaged tiles or roofing felt could lead to leaks and a loss of heat, problems which you want to catch and have fixed sooner rather than later.
  • Turn on all the taps to check the water pressure and ask for the heating to be turned on so that you can check whether the boiler makes a lot of noise or not. An older, noisy boiler in a bedroom could be a huge problem when you’re trying to sleep through those dark winter mornings.
  • Make sure that there are sufficient plug sockets and ceiling lights.
  • Check out for tell-tale signs of damp problems, such as wallpaper which is bubbling or has become discoloured. Don’t be afraid to shift items of furniture to ensure that no damp spots have been hidden away. When dealing with a wall which has a face exposed to the elements, actually touching to see if it feels cold can give a clue as to whether there are any damp problems.
  • Make sure you keep an eye out for the likes of rat or mouse traps in communal places, or droppings which would indicate the presence of vermin.
  • Listen carefully – Is the noise from neighbouring flats or rooms clearly audible? What may not seem too noisy on a visit like this could go on to be highly stressful if you have to listen to it daily for weeks on end.
  • Check the boiler to see if it has a sticker on it saying that it has been serviced within the past year.
  • Do rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom have good levels of natural light? If not, ask yourself honestly whether you’ll be able to deal with this in the longer term.
  • Take a good look at the rest of the properties on the road. Does this look like an area on the way up, or in decline? Return at different times of the day to see if the road gets choked with traffic during rush hour, for example, or is used as a route back from the pub by noisy revellers after closing time.
  • Don’t be worried to chat to other people living nearby, as the chances are that they’ll probably give you an unbiased and honest opinion.

Always remember, it’s possible to rush into renting somewhere but taking your time should lead to the decision being the right one. At Sterling De Vere we’re always happy to show you around properties and to answer all of your questions. You can arrange a viewing by calling at any time of the day and night, and the same goes to having any questions you might have answered.

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