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Tips for Choosing a Rental Property

Updated on October 7, 2015
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Renting in England

Renting is on the rise. Increasing numbers of people are now choosing to rent rather than start the process of buying their own home. A large proportion of renters are young adults between 18 and 30 and, for them, renting makes much more sense. It has been reported that the average house costs over five times the average wage, which paints a discouraging picture for any young person looking to find somewhere to call home. It is no surprise then that 8.5 million people in England are choosing to rent, with over 2 million renters falling within the 18-30 age group. Why has renting become a more attractive option for many people? Aside from the money saving aspect, renting can offer more flexibility and less hassle - when your lease is up you can quickly and easily move somewhere different. Having a landlord can also ease some of the responsibility for building and home maintenance and can provide support if something breaks.

If you are considering looking for a rental property there are a number of things you will need to consider. Research and planning is just as important when finding a rental property as when you are looking for a house to buy. Here are some tips about things you should think about when hunting for a good house or flat to rent.

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Location, Location, Location

Arguably one of the most important aspects of any property is its location. You should think carefully about where you would like to live and what amenities you may need. It can be useful to think about a property’s distance from your, and/or your partner’s, place of work. Can you walk to work? Is it easily driveable? Or will living in this particular property involve a two hour journey in rush hour? Location research can also involve finding out what shop, schools, parks and amenities are nearby in the area. It may be irritating to move into a new flat only to find that the nearest supermarket or food shop is more than an hour away. Research into a local area is much easier than in the past thanks to the internet.

Your research should not just stop at what is in the area, you should find out more about the local rental market as you can unknowingly end up paying more than you need to. Research what the average rent for a similar property in the area would be and check whether your potential property is overpriced or whether it fits in with the average. It can also be helpful to check what council tax band your prospective property falls into as this can affect whether you are able to afford to live there.

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Choosing a House or Flat

Of course, though the location of a property is particularly important, the property itself is just as crucial. There is little to be gained from moving into a substandard property just because you like the location, you may only end up making yourself unhappy. It can be difficult to find a nice flat or house within your budget but don’t be discouraged. Once you have found a property that you like make sure to visit it more than once, at different times of the day if possible. What may seem like a quiet road on a weekday evening may be a completely different story at the weekend. Think about your parking requirements and find out whether there is an allocated space or if you will have to use street-parking.

When looking around the interior of a property don’t just look at the rooms on a superficial level. The furniture should not be the main point of focus, especially if the property comes unfurnished. A room that is dressed and decorated very nicely can detract attention from any problematic areas. Think about the rooms critically. Is there enough wardrobe space in the bedrooms? Does the plumbing in the bathroom look like it is in good working order? Is there enough workspace in the kitchen? A handy tip when looking at properties is to look at the number of plug sockets in a room. It would be annoying to move into a flat only to find that there is only one plug in the lounge and it is in a really awkward place. Check whether the wiring and electrics look properly set up and establish whether there is a fire alarm system in place. Also you should keep an eye open for any damp patches as they can signify a long term problem.

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The Landlord

So you’ve found a seemingly perfect property in a desirable location and you may want to get everything sorted and signed so that you can move in. Before you do so, however, you should make sure that your prospective landlord is a suitable fit for you and provides good service. Make sure to check that you agree with their terms and conditions, for example rules about pets and smoking. The internet also has made it much easier to find information about dodgy landlords and letting agencies. There are a number of review sites that let people rate their experiences with letting agencies and landlords, your prospective landlord may not appear on these sites (especially as people are more inclined to review if they have had a bad experience rather than a good one) but it is worth checking.

Renting a House or Flat

As long as you think sensibly about a property, do your research and don’t rush into anything you should have a positive renting experience. Though many young people are choosing to rent first and buy later, many older people are choosing to rent because the flexibility and cost savings appeal to them. In this economic climate renting is fast becoming a preferable option to buying and it has been predicted that by 2020 at least 4 million people aged between 18 and 30 will be renting.

Home Ownership & Renting in England & Wales

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