There are of course plus points and minus points to renting:
On the Plus side, you can move-on relatively easily when you need to and you’re not responsible for many of the normal maintenance issues of the property, providing of course that you haven’t caused the problem concerned.
On the Minus side, as long as the correct legal processes are followed, you can be asked to move-on, even when settled and the rent will undoubtedly be put up from time to time. There are also those who consider paying rent a waste of money when you can be using that money on a mortgage to own you own home and hopefully reap the rewards of long term house price rises.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I would urge you that, whenever time and choice permit, always find yourself a Letting Agent you get on with personally and always ask to meet the Landlord if that Landlord will be dealing with matters themselves after you move-in.
It is so important for both the Tenant and the Landlord that they build a rapport from good communication and trust. It can save a lot of heartache down the line.
Always be wary of Agents who seem not to care and don’t have time for you and of Landlords who refuse to meet you when they will manage things themselves after you move-in. Far more than in buying, a personal rapport with the Agent and Landlord really is vital to a happy tenancy.
So how to choose your rental property?
Location, Location, Location – isn’t that the mantra?
Well it’s true – up to a point!
In reality, there are four fundamental things we look at when renting a house:
- Living Space
- Ease of Living
What is most important to you? How close you are to work? How close you are to your friends and social life? How close you are to your family? Or do you just like a particular town or village?
When there’s plenty of choice, it’s easy. The difficulty comes when, either due to a lack of supply or your wish to live in a very specific place, there is very little choice. Then you may have to compromise, either on location, on size, or on the property itself.
I’m afraid that in the end, only you can make these choices.
Make sure that the floor-space, number, layout and size of the rooms is right for your circumstances. It is very easy to be ‘wowed’ by a well presented house but you have to stand back and be honest with yourself about whether it is right for you, and if you identify compromises, can you live with them?
It’s slightly easier when renting to compromise if the lack of supply in your chosen location makes it necessary because of course, after your initial contract is up, you can move-on if you are unhappy and can find somewhere more suitable.
Ease of Living
I apologise if this is obvious but there are usually important differences between modern properties and older ones.
While this is a generalisation, modern properties tend to be more energy efficient and therefore cheaper to run but have smaller rooms and gardens. Older properties, tend to be less energy efficient but to have slightly larger rooms and gardens.
You should take the cost of running the property into account and you should look to the Agent to give you an idea of the utility costs and Council Tax.
This is always the tricky one and there are no right or wrong answers as to how much you should pay to rent a property.
Unlike when buying, it is not unheard of but it is rare for haggling to take place over the monthly rent to be paid. This is of course particularly so where demand outstrips supply as it often does in the Bishops Stortford, Saffron Walden, Cambridge corridor.
Always remember that on top of the monthly rent, you will have to pay electricity, gas and water bills as well as the Council Tax on the property and you will likely be referenced by a professional referencing company.
Referencing – These are in the main financial checks. Your employer has to verify your employment and your salary – remember, only guaranteed salary is taken into account, not bonuses. Your credit score is also checked and any non-payment of debts or County Court Judgments against you will be found, so it is vital to tell the Agent about these. You will fail the reference checks automatically if they discover something you haven’t revealed. If you have a guarantor ready to sign a legal document saying that they will pay any rent or other monies owed if you can’t, that often helps.
If you are currently renting, they will also want a positive reference from your current Landlord.
If you are self-employed, they will want information from your accountant and/or sight of your bank statements.
Right to rent checks – Agents and Landlords are now required to see sight of Passports, Driving Licenses and, where necessary, ‘right to remain’ cards for ALL prospective tenants.