As a nation we’re obsessed with the notion that buying a house is a must, but uncertain house prices, lower wages and higher living costs, are causing more and more people to rent. Based on current rates, experts forecast that by 2039 just over half of the housing market will be made up of private tenants. With that in mind, here are the top things tenants should look for, as well the questions they should be asking.
When viewing the property, you should consider the outside as well as the inside. Check the condition of the outside, including the roof, gutters, doors and windows. It’s worth asking if maintenance of the outside is covered by the lease, or if it’s up to the tenants themselves. If there is a garden or outside space, is the tenant responsible, or the landlord?
Remember to consider the local area too, as this could have an impact on your car insurance for example. Are there any red flags, like rubbish in a neighbouring garden, exposure to flooding or excessive traffic noise?
If the property is unoccupied it’s easy to smell if there’s a damp problem, as there’s a slight musty odour. But, evidence of damp can often be seen on walls and ceilings, so remember to keep an eye out – a tell-tale sign is the smell of fresh paint, especially in just one area.
Check to see if any repairs are required, this can be anything from a missing door handle to a cracked window. Ask if furniture is included, and if so, is it in good condition. If the décor isn’t quite what you had in mind, ask if you are able to redecorate and if there are any restrictions on hanging up pictures or curtains.
Is there enough heating, and how is it heated – storage heaters tend to cost more than gas, as this cost will have to be factored into your budget. And of course ask about the quality of the broadband and Wi-Fi service.
The safety checks
Landlords in the UK have laws they have to comply with to make sure the property is habitable and safe. As you’re looking at the property it’s worth making notes to ensure they are compliant.
There should be smoke vents and at least one smoke alarm on every floor, carbon monoxide detectors must also be present, as well fire blanket and fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Whilst PAT testing is not a legal requirement, all electrical items should be maintained and in good condition.
If furnishings are included, they should comply with the latest fire safety regulations, and you should also ask to see the landlord’s gas safety record.