As property prices, particularly in London, spiral ever higher, the idea of owning one’s own property becomes, at best, something to be postponed for much later in life and at worst, an impossible pipe dream. The upside of this is the fact that renting property is no longer seen as the second best option it might once have been regarded as, with flats for rent which offer comfort, security and variety.
Whilst renting a property is becoming an option which more and more people fall back on, there are still some pit-falls which it is best to avoid and sadly, some less than reputable landlords who are all too willing to take advantage of tenant’s naivety. Many people looking for flats or rooms to rent in London are doing so for the first time and may even have only just left the parental home or even arrived in the U.K. Bearing this in mind it’s vital that prospective tenants carry with them a mental check list of factors to take into consideration when looking for accommodation in London. The capital is a large a bustling city famed throughout the world for its cosmopolitan nature and willingness to take in people from anywhere looking to forge a life for themselves, but it’s still imperative to ask a few simple questions when thinking of renting somewhere. Never be afraid of asking your landlord these or any other questions which occur. One of the tell-tale signs of a landlord who can be trusted is the fact that they are as keen as you are to ensure that all your questions are answered and any concerns eased. A few of the facts you should be checking are as follows:
How much is the rent and when do you have to pay it?
Sounds obvious, but it is vital that there should be no ambiguity regarding this basic principle. In most cases your landlord will ask for the rent to be paid via direct debit or standing order on a specific day each month. They will generally allow you to select a day which chimes with the payment of your salary.
How long does the tenancy last?
Traditionally, tenancies have tended to run for six or twelve months, but the transitory nature of much big city living has led to the offer of shorter tenancies designed to fit into people’s busy lives. Ensure this question has been decided and set out in the tenancy agreement.
A good landlord will wish to maintain their property in the best possible condition, and should therefore go out of their way to let you know how to contact them in the event of anything needing to be repaired, and how quickly they will be intending to respond.
Is a deposit payable?
Most landlords ask for a deposit, typically equivalent to one month’s rent, kept as insurance against any damage to their property. Ask how and when this will be returned, and what may prevent its repayment. Also ask which of the three government recognised schemes your landlord is registering the deposit under.
Is there an inventory?
Not all landlords keep an inventory of what is included with their property, but doing so is likely to reduce the risk of any disagreements around loss or damage when you choose to move on.
Ask to see the gas safety certificate
Any property which has gas appliances must have an annual safety check and a certificate passing it as safe to live in. You have a legal right to see this certificate, and a good landlord will be only too happy to let you do so.
Make use of web reviews
When it comes to finding the perfect property there are few sources of information and advice which are more valuable than the views of other people just like you; tenants, past and present, or those who are still seeking a property, will reflect the most honest, useful and up to date views of the properties on offer. Take advantage of this resource by reading reviews on the web whilst looking for a property. This method will allow you to check out everything from the area which the property is in – finding out about amenities, transport links and the like – to the reputation and service level of the landlord or letting agency you are thinking of accessing.
Keep your options open
Rather than dealing with a single landlord, and thus having to make do with whatever they can offer, it’s best to rent a property via a letting agency in London which works with a number of different landlords. This will mean that the property or room you’re seeking can be precisely tailored to meet your needs. A letting agency which works with larger numbers of landlords will also be able to pre-select these landlords, since their good reputation will rely upon only working with the very best. A top letting agency will already have asked all the questions you might want to ask, plus, in all likelihood, some vital questions of their own. Above all, they will act as a buffer and channel of communication between landlord and tenant, ensuring that the service you receive is at all times completely professional.
With this basic checklist in mind, finding an acceptable property or room to rent should be a straightforward matter. The sheer number of London properties to let, however, can seem somewhat daunting, so it’s useful to narrow your search down a little by insisting on a landlord willing to go that extra mile. The things you should be looking for in a landlord or letting agency include a wide choice with rooms or properties to suit all tastes and budgets, the offer of round the clock support should problems occur and a team of staff willing and able to be by your side every step of the way. Other plus points which mark out a truly exceptional service include the likes of bills such as utilities and council tax being included in the monthly total, high speed internet included, a comprehensive range of furniture and fittings provided and, for the very best deals, extras such as weekly cleaning and TV licence coverage.