What to Look for When Renting a Property


Around one in every five people in the UK rent their home from a private landlord. This is a substantial increase over previous decades, and it’s especially prevalent in London. But not all rented accommodation is the same, and it’s therefore worth being selective before you sign that agreement.

Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that might determine your quality of life when choosing where to rent.

How Long is the Lease?

In most cases, you’ll find that the lease is twelve months long; in a minority, however, you might find that it’s six months or even less. In either instance, it’s worth asking the question, and to establish what happens after the period has elapsed. Will you move into a rolling contract, and will that make you vulnerable?

What condition is the property in?

The presence of mould and pests should trigger alarm bells; be on the lookout for them from the moment you come around for the first inspection. In some cases, these issues can be subtle and difficult to spot on first look – especially if your landlord goes out of the way to disguise them. Your landlord is obliged to fix issues of this kind; if they don’t you can pursue compensation via a housing disrepair claim.

How much will it cost?

Obviously, you’re going to need to account for your rent. But you should also think about extra fees like council tax, and the size of the deposit you need to put down at the outset. Some landlords might ask for a holding deposit, which is basically a way of proving that you are serious about moving in. This will be refunded after a month or so.

What about energy efficiency?

You should also think about the amount of money you’ll be spending on heating. Newer, smaller properties tend to be more affordable when it comes to heating, but not always. Look for the Energy Performance Certificate, which will provide a broad-brush assessment of the property’s efficiency.

When was the boiler last serviced?

If your boiler breaks down a few weeks into your stay, then you aren’t going to have an enjoyable time – especially if it’s winter. Make sure that it has been serviced annually.

What’s the policy on pets?

If you have a pet that you’d like to bring into the accommodation, then you may find that your options are severely restricted. If you keep a pet without permission, then you might find that you’re in violation of the tenancy agreement. Some landlords may turn a blind eye; others may not.

What is the area like?

A short walk around the area might reveal problems that you might not have even considered. Spend a few minutes after your first inspection, and check out any local pubs or restaurants.


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Watch My Wallet has everything you need to know about money, written by real people who’ve been there. Inspired by the philosophy of Early Retirement Extreme (ERE), our goal is to make informed decisions about our finances in order to achieve financial independence.