For some people August means splashing around on beaches, enjoying an afternoon cerveza and precious time away from the office to spend with friends and family. For others, it’s time to start thinking about moving. Whether you’re a student looking for your new place from the autumn or, like many others, you’re stuck in that Septembertime end-of-tenancy loop we’ve got some great tips on how to make your next choice.
Location, location, location
You may have noticed that the decision always seems to be between a better flat or a better location – it’s the same for everyone. The trick here is to work out what your deal breakers are when it comes to location. Do you actually need to have somewhere to get your morning coffee right next door, or is that a luxury? Do you have to be two minutes walk from the train station, or would a bus stop do? Is it absolutely essential to live near work/entertainment/shopping or could you make do to save money? We often get very fixated on what we think we must have and end up paying over the odds when compromise could bring the price down.
The space premium
After location, the next big factor that will seriously push up the cost is space. You can save considerably by choosing to live with others rather than alone, by having the kids bunk together for a couple of years or by making this the time to take the leap with an other half! (a one bed flat is half the rent with two people in it..). Generally, the larger the space and the better maintained it is, the more you’ll pay to live in it. Are you prepared to take somewhere more spacious but without the wood floors and marble work tops, or can you make do with ‘cozy’ for the better interiors?
Your basic rights
When you’re renting we recommend you do this from a reputable letting agent so that you know all the legalities will be dealt with. When you start discussions over a property, ask about the following:
Check in and check out inventory – not a legal requirement but essential to document the state of the property and make sure you don’t pay for damage you didn’t do.
Which deposit protection scheme the deposit will be protected with – it’s a legal requirement that your deposit is protected so this should be an easy question.
Tenancy documents – request a draft copy of the tenancy agreement and give yourself time to read it thoroughly before you have to sign it. The best agents make their standard form documentation available on their websites – if it isn’t there then there should be no problem requesting a copy.
Costs – agents must now prominently display the costs of renting a property in an advert but we’re starting to see all sorts of hidden costs appearing so ask (in writing) for a complete summary of every moving related cost up front. Make it clear you won’t be responsible for paying costs that suddenly appear at a later date. This could include a fee for drawing up the tenancy agreement, the fee for the inventory and the referencing check fee. Establish how much the holding deposit is to secure the property and ensure this is taken off the main deposit when you pay it.
Go with your instincts – we get so many complaints in our forums from people who have suffered at the hands of bad landlord, even though they felt like they knew the landlord was a dud when they took the proper. If your instinct says no then go with it – sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle, no matter how much you want a property.