Renting can have its moments, with the number of households living in the private rented sector continually increasing.
In fact, an estimated one fifth of the UK population now live in rented accommodation.
Some may claim that this is because UK families have been priced out of the buying market. However, the latest English Housing Survey states otherwise, with 84% of respondents saying that they are satisfied with their rented accommodation and 72% stating that they are happy with their current landlords.
So, having established that renting is in – how do you go about renting the perfect home in London?
1. Establish your budget
There is little point in starting to look for properties if you do not know what you can and can’t afford on a monthly basis. Imagine if you found your ideal property, only to find that you do not earn enough to be able to rent it?
Avoid unnecessary disappointment by going through your finances first and working out exactly what you can afford. Make sure you take into consideration your utility bills if these are not included in your rent. The same way some Broadband providers only cover some areas, Council Tax rates vary per property, per council.
2. Location, location, location
For most people looking for a property, the most important aspect of their search is finding a property in their preferred area. Think about how far you are willing to commute to work and if there are any family or friends that you want to live close to.
Try not to get tempted by properties outside your preferred area, even if they are cheaper or larger, as you may regret it once you have moved in. Equally so, you should know that properties closer to Tube Stations will likely be more expensive.
3. Do your research
Once you have established where you would like to live, it is a good idea to thoroughly research the area. If you have children, or are planning to have them in the near future then you should take into consideration the local schools as well as any nearby amenities for children such as parks and leisure centres.
Do you have a hobby or class you attend every week? Perhaps you have a pet and a schedule when taking them out everyday? Ensure your new property won’t affect this, whether that be your commute to a class or the local facilities around you that you are used to, no longer being available (e.g.the park your dog loves).
4. Do not rush the viewing process
Most property seekers now carry out their searches online, but this can often lead to people disregarding properties before they have really given them a chance. Of course, searching for rental properties online has its advantages, but it is also important to visit potential properties in person to see if they could work for you. If you have any concerns over the images or video, you may have several more concerns when you visit the property, so don’t be scared to address them.
5. Enlist the help of a letting or estate agent
You could choose to rent directly from a landlord, however this is not without its risks. You may be lucky enough to encounter an experienced and trustworthy landlord, but it’s always best to rent your property through a professional and reputable letting agent, especially now that Tenant Fees are banned.
6. Ensure your deposit is protected
If you have not rented before, then you may not be aware of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. Basically, this scheme protects your deposit as your landlord is now legally obliged to place your money into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme, as well as inform you of their chosen scheme within 30 days of you handing over your money. This must be done no matter what, and if your landlord doesn’t want to protect the deposit, count this as a red flag.
7. Always pay your rent on time
This goes without saying, but not only will this keep your landlord happy, meaning that they are more likely to help you out quickly if you encounter a problem with your property, but it could also boost your credit score as well as your future references from your landlord. If you are constantly late completing rent payments, this will be noted and your landlord will certainly mention this when providing a reference, alongside the condition you have left the property and more.
8. Carry out a full inventory check
Although it is highly likely that your landlord has already carried out their own inventory check, it is a good idea for you to do one also. Otherwise, you could leave yourself open to disputes over damages and breakages when you decide to move out. Many times Landlords have a dated Inventory from when they first began renting the property, which may have been several years ago. If you notice any damages or defects in the house, take pictures of them and share them with your landlord or agency.
9. Take out contents cover
As a renter, your landlord is responsible for taking out buildings insurance, however, it is up to you to take out cover for your own belongings. Make sure that you shop around for the best contents cover as the costs can differ significantly from one provider to the next. In the case of an emergency, you’re covered and will be eternally happy that you purchased the insurance. Fingers crossed you don’t have an emergency…
10. Keep an open line of communication with your landlord
You want to be able to rely on your landlord in case of an emergency, or if you are experiencing any issues with the property, and they need to place their trust in you too. They will want to retain reliable tenants as it can be both expensive and time-consuming for them to find new ones, so it works for everyone if the relationship is good. If you are experiencing or expecting hard times, make them aware of this. They will likely help you and be understanding, whereas if you don’t communicate this with them and then miss rent payments, they can lose trust in you.