Guide To Renting For The First Time
February 11, 2019
Our 7 Point Guide For First Time Renting
Renting for the first time can be an intimidating process, especially if you don’t know what to expect
Renting for the first time can be an intimidating process, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
The excitement of impending independence can sometimes be tempered by the horror stories of almost uninhabitable properties and tyrant landlords. But don’t worry, you’re not going to be tricked at every turn. Renting for the first time shouldn’t be scary, it should be a golden opportunity to gain more independence (especially if you’re flying the nest).
That being said, there are a few crucial aspects you need to keep in mind if you’re to enter into the best possible tenancy for you.
Unfurnished or furnished?
There are pros and cons to both options
Deciding whether you want a property that is furnished/part-furnished or unfurnished can be an easy way to whittle down the thousands of properties to look at. There are pros and cons to both options:
- Furnished/part-furnished properties – removes the cost and hassle of buying furniture before you move in. This option is the cheaper of the two but means you will have less say in the appearance of your new home. You’ll also have to be more careful with the upkeep of the furniture as it will not be your property. Responsibility for the condition of the furniture will ultimately lie with you so you’ll be footing the bill for any damage costs.
- Unfurnished properties – this option will give you more control over the look of the property. However, this does mean that there will be a larger upfront cost to furnishing your new pad, and furniture is not cheap, even from the space-saving Swedes at Ikea. The upside is that you will then have furniture that you can call your own, and take with you to your next place when you decide to move on.
Your daily commute will probably be your biggest travel consideration
As great as a house may seem, all that perfection is going to quickly fade if it takes you a lifetime to commute to work every day.
Before you set your heart on a property, check how you’re going to get from A to B. It should have good transport links or be a walkable distance from your daily haunts. Your daily commute will probably be your biggest travel consideration but also take into account your proximity to your family, friends and shops, and even factors such as airports if you’re a frequent flyer.
The rent may be cheaper further out of the city but the higher travel costs may leave you even more out of pocket. So dust off the Casio and make sure you take all living costs into consideration before you settle on a place.
Keep a couple of things in mind
If you’re going to be using a car instead of public transport at your new property, you’ll have to keep a couple of things in mind.
Ideally you’ll need a house or flat that has a garage, drive or allocated car parking to safely accommodate your vehicle. It’s always better to check with your landlord or lettings agent if you can park a vehicle outside the property than presume it’s okay. Otherwise, you might be surprised by a hefty fine after you’ve moved in because you didn’t know you needed a parking permit.
Similarly, if your property comes with a car parking space but you don’t drive, consider renting your space out to earn some extra cash. Car parking spaces are in increasingly high demand, especially if you live in London or near a train station or airport.
Spotting any issues early save you any headaches further down the line
When you start to look around at potential properties, remember to put your vigilant (not vigilante!) hat on. It’s easy to get swept up by a modern kitchen, ensuite bathrooms or a flat screen TV in each room.
But try to remain focused on the more practical aspects when viewing a property. Remember that you may end up living in this house so you want to ensure it is in the best possible condition. Spotting any issues early save you any headaches further down the line.
- Are all doors secure, particularly the front and back doors?
- Is the water pressure working properly in the kitchen and bathroom?
- Look for smoke alarms in every room and at least one carbon monoxide alarm.
- Check that all the windows are uncracked and double glazed with no noticeable drafts.
- Watch out for signs of damp and mould in areas not in your immediate eye-line, like in the corners of a room or behind large items of furniture.
- Look for indicators of rushed repairs or uncorrected problems.
- Ask to see the boiler to check how up to date it is.
- Think practically about how the house is furnished.
- Don’t forget the flooring. Original wooden floors can be a great character feature, but they can also mean a colder house in winter months. Conversely, carpets are better for insulation but it’s worth asking when they were last professionally cleaned.
That’s by no means a definitive list but it gives you an idea of the types of questions you should be asking and the issues to look out for. You don’t want to end up in a cold, damp house because you got distracted by the fancy fridge.
Initial costs such as a security deposit, admin fees, and one month’s rent in advance
Once you’ve found a property that passes all your initial checks, you’ll be ready to consider a tenancy.
It’s important to make sure that you’re prepared for any upfront costs. Initial costs such as a security deposit, admin fees, and one month’s rent in advance can come as a bit of a surprise to a first-time renter.
These costs are part of the renting process, (although admin fees won’t be around for much longer). Most properties will ask for a security deposit and one month’s rent in advance before you move in. This is to pay for any possible damage to the property that you may cause whilst living there.
If you are students or on a lower wage, you may be asked to have a guarantor before moving in to ensure that rent will always be paid. Again, don’t be put off by this, it is to ensure that the landlord doesn’t lose any money if you suddenly cannot pay the rent anymore. If you pay your rent on time and look after the property while you’re there, then you are likely to receive the full deposit back when your lease ends.
The fine print
It is vital that a written lease is drawn up
The number one rule of renting any property is don’t move in until you’re clear about the contract.
It is vital that a written lease is drawn up, as this legally binding document details all of the rights and regulations you and the landlord are expected to uphold. Make sure that you understand its contents inside and out before signing it. This isn’t like the T&Cs that you click through on iTunes.
The fine print of a lease could stipulate any irregular details or costs, such as penalties for late rent, paying for a cleaner at the end of your tenancy and consequences for altering the layout of the house.
Don’t forget to stock up
Moving into a new place normally requires a bit of stocking up beforehand
Once you’ve signed on the dotted line of the tenancy agreement, it’s time to stock up on some essential household items. Even if your property comes furnished, that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes with pots and pans. Moving into a new place normally requires a bit of stocking up beforehand.
Consider buying items like drying racks, washing baskets, rubbish bins, clothes hangers, bedding, draining racks, and at least one set of unnecessary fairy lights to decorate your bedroom with. Nothing ruins a housewarming meal more than a poorly stocked kitchen.
Don’t be caught out by expecting your landlord to provide these items. Use the opportunity to get to know your landlord, start off on the right foot and establish a good relationship with open communication.