For those unsure of the renting process, we have put together and short and simple guide to help you through each step.
Step one - setting out your requirements
Before you start your search, have a think about the things you need to consider in looking for a property. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- What is your budget? Don't forget to think of bills like utilities and council tax, and not just rent.
- How many bedrooms will you need?
- Would you like a property with a garden?
- Do you need any parking?
- Do you need to be near any transport links, schools or amenities?
- Do you have pets and therefore will need to look for a property where the landlord accepts pets?
Setting out exactly what you are after will help your narrow down a search so you only look at properties that suit your requirements.
Step two - searching for properties to rent
Felicity J Lord provides a simple and brilliant facility for searching for properties to rent in London. You can:
- Search for properties within a set radius of things you need to be near such as schools, transport links and amenities;
- Search by property type, budget and number of bedrooms;
- Search by postcode, town or road name.
Your search results can then be prioritised to only include properties with the features you want such as conservatories, en-suites, period property as well as selecting only furnished or unfurnished available. You can also enter your own keywords to find the properties that match exactly what you need.
Carry out a property search today.
Make sure to register with lettings agents in the area and outline your list of requirements with them so that they can contact you as soon as a property that may suit you becomes available.
Step three - Viewings
In the London property market, we have noticed the properties that become available to rent can move pretty quickly. So once you have found a property that meets your requirements, we advise that you arrange to view it as soon as possible. Here are some pointers to help:
- When making your way to the viewing and arriving, look around the outside of the property – get a feel for that road and area at that time of day;
- Has the exterior of the property been well maintained?
- Inside the property, again look closely at the maintenance of it;
- Check how is the property heated and how well insulated does it look as this will affect your heating bills;
- If you are looking at a furnished property, it is useful to see a checklist of what furniture will be in the property when you move in;
- Take a look at the locks for doors and windows for security of the property;
- For flats or for properties where there is sharing of communal areas or gardens, it is important to ask how often the communal areas are cleaned and the grounds maintained;
- Go to see the property at different times of day to see what the surrounding area is like - does it get very busy at certain times of day? Will this be a problem?
If you decide you would like to proceed with a property, there are a few things that are useful to have ready in advance:
- Funds for a deposit, reference checks and first month’s rent.
- Copies of references from your employer and previous landlords. You will also need to have your bank details, identification and your full address for the last three years ready as the lettings agent will need this for reference checks.
- A guarantor.
What to discuss with the Lettings Agent before agreeing to rent the property
Some of these may seem quite obvious, but it can be easy to forget the little things when dealing with properties!
- The deposit – check with the agent how much the deposit is, when it will need to be paid by and if one month’s rent in advance is required.
- Bills – what is included in the rent? Maintenance charges? Ground keeping charges? Cleaning of communal areas?
- When is the rent reviewed and how will you be notified of any changes?
- Do you need a guarantor and if so, who do they accept as a guarantor?
- Will the tenancy be fixed term and if so, how long will this be? What happens when the fixed term has ended?
- Do you need contents insurance and when should this start from?
Step five - the tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement is very detailed and lists your responsibilities as a tenant. As a bare minimum, it should contain:
- Full names of the landlord(s) and tenant(s);
- Full address of the property;
- Deposit amount and how it is protected;
- How much the rent is and how it should be paid;
- Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed;
- Address of the landlord(s) or agent who will be looking after the property;
- Start and end date of the tenancy.
Other items that may be within the tenancy agreement:
- The bills the tenant is responsible for;
- How and when the deposit may be fully or partly withheld;
- If the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done;
- Who is responsible for repairs;
- Whether pets are permitted and the rules around this;
- Whether smoking is permitted;
- Whether the property can be let to anyone else (sublet) or if lodgers are allowed.
Before signing the tenancy agreement, you should:
- Make sure you have visited the property enough times that you are sure you want to proceed;
- Make sure your deposit is protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme;
- Ensure you have established your budget so that you are satisfied you can afford the rent, any bills and still have enough funds for food and other living costs;
- Check you understand all instructions for electrical items, heating etc;
- Make sure you see an up to date, valid gas safety certificate;
- Ensure inventory is all agreed – that you have all items within the property as set out. It is also worthwhile checking the state of these items and photographing anything already showing signs of damage or wear. It can be helpful for both yourself and the landlord/agency have copies of these.
Step six - Moving
Moving can be pretty stressful! However, we have some tips to help make it as simple as possible:
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get packed! You could start collecting boxes in advance and packaging material so you have plenty for when you are ready;
- Packing away items you do not use regularly in advance will give you less to do in the last few days;
- Pick a day(s) best suited to you;
- Put a standard letter or email together so that you can notify utility companies, bank, doctors, places of work, DVLA etc that you are moving;
- Make sure you have sorted utility companies for your new property and ensure you take meter readings on your moving in day;
- Don't forget to notify utility companies regarding the property you are moving out of and supply them with final meter
- Try to set up a postal re-direct as soon as possible;
- Notify the company you have purchased contents insurance with that you are now moving in and the date you need cover to start.
Need further help and advice? Go to our branch finder, find your local branch and contact them for help and assistance