Looking around a property that you’re potentially going to live in isn’t simply a matter of visiting to see whether your mattress will fit. It’s probably the only time you will be able to speak to the landlord/agent before signing the contract and get an idea of what the property is really like to live in so it’s something to take seriously.
- Go with your potential housemates. You don’t want to be the one who has to make the decision on the property and then bear the consequences if things go wrong. Other people might be able to add valuable input too.
- Choose a decent agent. Find an agent that has professional body membership (ARLA, Property Ombudsman, NFOPP) – those agents that have this membership have to abide by a code of conduct and you will have somewhere to make a complaint if things go wrong.
- Don’t be lazy. You need to view a number of properties to really get an idea of what’s available in your area and what the average rooms sizes, rents and amenities are.
Questions to ask
When you’re viewing a property, go armed with a list of questions and – geeky as it may seem – take notes!
“Is there broadband?” You don’t want to go through the hassle of getting this set up after you move in and it’s useful to know what type there is and what the bills are.
“Where’s the storage?” Particularly if the rooms are on the small side, where are you going to keep the bike, decks and suitcases?
“Are there working smoke alarms and a burglar alarm?” Get the agent to test them in front of you.
“Is there parking?” If you have a car you’re going to need this.
“How is the deposit protected?” Make sure the landlord/agent understands the legal requirement to protect your deposit and is already planning to do it.
“Can I see the gas safety certificate?” Landlords must get the boiler checked once a year and then give this certificate to the tenants. It’s a legal requirement.
And look at:
The property layout – will this suit you and your housemates?
The condition of the property – can you see signs of damp, what kind of state is the furniture in and does the hot water work?
Security – do windows locks and are there locks on the doors? Does the property have double glazing?
What kind of condition are the carpets in – if they’re stained and in a bad way will the landlord replace them?
Questions to ask the current tenants:
“What are your monthly bills for gas and electricity?”
“Do you have any problems with noisy neighbours?”
“Have you had any issues with repairs and does the landlord/agent respond quickly?”
“Why are you moving out?”
“Have you had any break ins?”