10 questions to ask when viewing a rental property

Looking for a change of scenery?

When viewing a property, you may forget to ask some critical and important questions that can help you decide whether or not this property is suitable for you.

So keep this list of questions handy when viewing your next rental property.

1. What local amenities are in the area?

Knowing where the nearest supermarket, transport links or other amenities lie that you may regularly need access to is an important part of evaluating whether the property you’re viewing is suitable for your needs.

You can research this before attending your viewing, or ask the agent or landlord showing you the property.

2. What is the area like?

When viewing a property, it’s always good to ask about the surrounding area. Is it largely a neighbourhood with families? Or, perhaps, there are many restaurants and bars that attract a younger crowd. The landlord or agent may not be able to answer this question directly, but it’s always a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open if this area would suit your lifestyle.

3. Can I redecorate?

You might find that some landlords allow their tenants to redecorate the property while they live there. For example, if agreed in advance, you may be allowed to paint the rooms, if you return it to the original colour before moving out.

It’s important to always seek your landlord’s permission when redecorating, as doing so without an agreement in place may result in losing part of your deposit.

Now onto more questions that dive into the financial aspect of the rental property:

4. How much are bills?

Understanding whether or not a property suits your budget is important, but can be difficult to estimate. Where you pay the bills, elements such as water or council tax are easier to factor in, but heat and electricity can be more variable. Each property will have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which will indicate how efficient a property is and help you understand whether you may face lower or higher bills when comparing rental options.

5. When and how should rent be paid?

Different landlords and/or lettings agencies will have different rent due dates. This also depends on the type of contract.

If you’re living with other people, you will also have to clarify how the landlord wants the rent to be paid – in the majority of cases, payments will be grouped by the lead tenant with all transactions organised from their account.

6. How much is the deposit?

Tenant Fees Act stipulates that the tenant security deposit is capped at a maximum of 5 weeks’ rent if the annual rent is less than £50,000 and 6 weeks’ rent where the annual rent is more than £50,000. This deposit is held against any damage to the property or breach of the tenancy terms. It must be kept in a Government approved safety deposit scheme. To find out more about this, click here.

In some cases, landlords may ask for a holding deposit, which is capped at one week’s rent and shows the landlord that you’re serious about your tenant application. The holding deposit is refunded once you sign the tenancy contract or deducted off your first month’s rent. However, if you withdraw from the proposed rental agreement or fail your references, you are likely to lose the holding deposit. To avoid this from happening, make sure you know the multiples of income required to pass the references and always be honest about your credit history.

7. How much is council tax?

Council tax covers various services provided by the local council, including recycling and bin collection and there are various council tax bands, as well as discounts and exemptions. Local councils can have different bands, and you can find out here what band the rental property falls under.

8. What is the property’s EPC rating?

The majority of properties have to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that provides you with an understanding of how energy efficient the property is. Listed building may often be exempt. Ratings range from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). Under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), all rental properties (unless exempt) must adhere to a minimum EPC rating of E and landlords/agents must provide tenants with an up-to-date EPC at the beginning of their tenancy.*

9. How long is the rental term?

Although this is generally agreed upon in advance, yours or the landlord’s plans may change. For example, the landlord may be planning to move back in a few years time or you, as the tenant, may want to stay longer than originally planned. For these reasons, knowing that yours and the landlords plans are aligned can help you plan your move accordingly.

10. Is there anything else I need to know?

The person showing you around may be able to point out some additional factors that may influence whether or not you choose to apply and move into this property or not.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your potential new home. You might find that some of these questions lead to new questions and answers that can help you make a decision as to whether you want to move into the property or not.

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