When you go to view a property, you should look further than the colour of the décor and size of the rooms. There are a number of important signs to look for when searching for a property to let to ensure you find a nice house or flat in good repair for a reasonable price in a pleasant area.
The first thing to do when searching for a property to let is of all check out the neighbourhood to make sure you'd feel comfortable walking around there. It is worth visiting the area in which you’d like to rent a property at different times of day and night to see if you’d feel safe at night or early morning, etc.
Once you enter the rental flat or rental house, carefully check its condition, looking for damp or cracks in the walls and ceilings, safe stairs, leaning walls, and so on. You should also check the potential rental property for signs of infestation, such as ant trails or mouse droppings. If there are any obvious problems ask the landlord or letting agent what they are going to do about it, they may offer to make the necessary repairs to the rental property before you move in. Around one million people in the UK live in homes that are unfit for human habitation so don’t be afraid to question the landlord about repairs and make sure you ask plenty of questions before you hand over a deposit to rent a property.
Other basic, but extremely important considerations are:
Is the house on offer warm enough, and does it have central heating or double-glazing? Has the house been burgled, and if so how many times? Does the property to let have an alarm, window locks and a secure door?
Also, does the property being let have smoke detectors, and if not is the landlord willing to fit these for you if you choose to rent the property? It is worth remembering that if the house was built after July 1992, by law the landlord must fit smoke detectors on every floor.
Once you have established that the house being offered for rent is in a decent area, is in good repair and has all the necessary safety features you need, then you need to find out what is included in the rent. Will you have to pay the bills separately? Do you have to pay the water rates? How much is the council tax a year, and do you have to pay that on top of the rent? Is there a phone line fitted?
If the house is not decorated to your taste, ask the landlord of the property you’re viewing if you can redecorate. You also need to check what furniture, if any, comes with the property. Some unfurnished properties don’t have anything except the kitchen and bathroom units, while some also include a cooker and fridge freezer. On the other hand, a fully furnished house may just have a sofa, chairs, bed and wardrobe, while others also include a TV, video and dinner plates!
From a safety point of view, never go to see a property to let on your own and always view the house in daylight hours. This will also allow you to see better and spot any problems. It is also worth getting as much information about the property and the area before you go to see it.
Finally, don’t despair or get downhearted if you are spending hours or days looking for a house to rent and not finding what you want. It can take time to find your perfect abode, but that’s better than settling for a second-rate rental property and having to look for somewhere new six months later.