Picking the perfect rental property is no easy feat. It’s not simply a case of accepting the first vacant flat near campus or choosing that house purely because it has Solar. There are a great many things that you, as a prospective tenant, should look out for.
Fortunately, there are some amazing places out there which should be far easier for you to discover if you bear the following considerations in mind:
1) Establish your needs prior to commencing the search
To make sure you’re getting a good deal, research typical rents by comparing the monthly amounts currently being asked for similar properties in the area. You should be able to do this fairly easily via our system. That should then give you a good idea of average prices and help you set a budget. When enquiring about a property, find out what (if anything) is covered in the rent. Are council tax, water or maintenance included or will you need to budget separately for them?
In order not to overstretch yourself, its crucial to agree on a maximum amount, focus your search on properties within that range so as to ‘avoid temptation’. However, there’s always room for negotiation, believe it or not. Landlords are looking for ‘ideal tenants’, those with great references, that will look after the property and want a longer tenancy; if you tick those boxes, you could be in a strong position to get the rent reduced slightly. It’s worth asking.
Don’t naturally assume that a property comes complete with its own dedicated parking space; if this is a requirement, you’ll need to check. If not, find out whether there is somewhere nearby where you can safely park your car. In city centers, you may find that the local council operates a permit parking scheme. Bear in mind that there could be a charge for the permit – almost certainly a charge will be applied on permits for second cars and those for visitors might need to be bought in books.
A deciding factor for tenants which has grown exponentially in recent months is the provision of a decent broadband signal. This has grown from being simply a ‘nice-to-have’ to an absolute necessity, given the increase in home working and a heavy reliance on the internet. Some areas receive stronger signals than others, thus again some research will be required to ensure the property meets your technological needs. Similarly, it’s worth checking mobile phone network coverage when you view the property.
Smokers/ pet owners
When searching for a rental home, most advertisements will make clear when the landlord is happy to accommodate smoking and/ or pets. Make sure to look out for this and never assume that you can smoke or allow your animal inside – otherwise you may find that it contravenes the tenancy agreement or invalidates any insurance policies. If in doubt, ask. Incidentally, if you have disabilities that necessitate a guide or hearing dog, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask the landlord to reconsider the no pet rule. Each case is individual and requires advice, but if they fail to do so they might be in breach of disability discrimination laws.
2) Check the property
Good landlords will know that it’s in their best interest to keep a property in good working order, that way they can hope to attract good tenants, i.e. you. That said there are several sight checks you can do yourself, such as: do the windows, doors and gates look secure? Are any of the roof tiles missing? Is paint/ brick work neat and clean? It’s definitely worth checking as you may be able to pre-empt or avoid future issues.
A clean and fresh interior is demonstrative of a responsible landlord, but there’s more to the inside of a property than simply if it’s been painted recently. You should make a point of checking the water pressure and finding out what has been installed. Once again check the windows and doors for security and scan the walls for signs of damp. If the property was listed as furnished, you should be provided with an inventory to check against, but on the initial visit, establish whether all of the expected items are physically in the home. If you will be living in the property for some time and don’t like the decor, some landlords might be happy for you to paint a bedroom or two and may even pay for the redecoration.
If the property features a garden, then it’s likely your responsibilities as tenant might extend to mowing the lawn. If you are not ‘horticulturally-inclined’, it might be better to find a property that either doesn’t have a garden or perhaps has one which has been decked and is low maintenance. Alternatively, the landlord may have an arrangement with a local gardener to keep the space looking nice, which might alleviate the pressure on you.
3) Know the landlord’s obligations
To protect both you, as tenants and the landlord, a professional tenancy agreement should be issued. This should outline the rights, obligations and expectations of both parties to prevent any misunderstandings or unreasonable demands. This should be read through carefully and any issues raised before it is signed. It should cover questions relating to responsibility for repairs, rent payment dates, notice periods and whether any services charges might be payable. Copies should be signed and are binding unless breached at some point.
Gas Safe Certification
Every year, all gas appliances must be tested and certified by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This is for safety reasons, naturally. The landlord should therefore be able to present you with said certificates and also diarize future checks. There should also be carbon monoxide detectors installed, not mandatory however. Good landlords know that this is expected of them, so don’t be afraid to ask if they forget to mention it.
Your landlord: hands-on or via a letting agent
Your landlord is also required to let you know whether they are the first point of contact for all issues or whether the responsibilities have been passed on to a letting agent. If they will be a ‘hands-on’ landlord, determine if, how and when any inspections might take place. You should be provided with emergency contact details, regardless of who will manage the property.
4) General Factors To Consider
Every tenant wants their freedom; no one wants to live in a place where they feel their rights are being infringed in any way. To avoid future issues with landlords it is always crucial to read through the house rules and regulations. These can be found here on our platform under the description section of each property. If not available get in touch with the letting agent of that property. House rules differ from property to property therefore it would be wrong to assume that rules are the same across all properties. Check whether parties, alcohol, sleepovers and so forth are allowed. Select a house you are comfortable residing at.
Comes as part of the house rules but we decided to have this as a stand-alone. Many students complain about curfew! We get that a lot! People want to be free and come back in any time of the day or night they want. Sadly, there is never a property that will completely allow you to barge in at 3 or 4am while other tenants are asleep. Every house has a curfew and this is for security reasons. It is therefore of paramount importance to check which properties offer you a flexible schedule for you to plan for those late night study groups and/or discussions. Some houses allow you late hours whilst others it’s a taboo and once the main door is locked, there is a penalty for late night entrance.
Normally overlooked, but key in certain circumstances. Some houses have caretakers on standby whilst others do not have .It is very important to inquire about this before you place a booking and pay for house only to realize that there is a duty roaster for every week and tenants are expected to purchase toilet cleaners and clean bathrooms and toilets on a rotational basis.
No one wants to stay too far off from campus or too far off the road .It’s very important to check the proximity of the property from certain landmarks such as the clinic, shopping center, campus and main road. You can easily do that via our maps function for all our registered properties.
If you’ve been reading the article carefully (and we hope you have), then you should know by now all the ins and outs of selecting the right house for you. And it means plenty of great things: you’ll have less trouble deciding which house you should aim for and a great semester ahead once you have a house that suits all your needs, wants and complements your budget!
Here at The Housing Hub, we work hard to make the student world better. That’s why we’ll be glad if you share this post with students you know to spread the trend of selecting the right house around the globe.