I had no idea what to title this post, but in brief, it’s a quick lowdown of what to look for when you’re considering renting an apartment, house, or flat from a letting agents.
Usually, after the first year, students move from halls of residence into a private letting. The cost often increases (for less amenities), you have to deal with bills, and you’ll often be surprised by the amount of issues that you can find yourself lumped with.
Here are a few things you should do, or look for, when having a viewing for private accommodation.
- Check for mould/damage.
This should be obvious, but regardless of what the letting agent says, try to avoid any houses that seem to be at all damp. Some rooms might show signs of mould, or might just smell musty. While it can just be because the current students have failed to keep the bathroom windows open for long enough, for example, it’s important to make sure that the house or flat doesn’t have an ongoing mould or damp issue. These could cause health issues and are an environment you don’t really want to be willingly going into.
- Check the water
I didn’t think about this until after my last viewing, but it would be worth checking the taps and toilet (turn the taps on and flush the toilet) to make sure that everything is functioning correctly. If not, and you’re interested in the property, they have time to fix it before you move in. If it’s a big issue, you’ll know to avoid the place, and possibly also the letting agents.
- Talk to a resident
If you get the chance, it’s a really good idea to have a quick word with one of the residents of the property you’re interested in. Usually students, they’ll often be very honest, and if there’s anything to look out for or avoid they’ll let you know. This way, you can get an honest insight into what the property is like, from someone who’s actually paying to live there.
Similarly, talk to anyone who has used the letting agents you’re considering going with. It’s worth finding out what they’re like, whether they’re reputable and if others would recommend them. If not, you might want to start looking elsewhere.
- Look for reviews
Similarly to above, this is worth doing though you ought to take the reviews online with a pinch of salt. Have a read through, and if there’s anything that bothers you in the more negative reviews, talk to the letting agents to see if they can reassure you. If you’re not entirely sure that you’ll be happy with the experience, then it’s worth looking around elsewhere first.
It’s worth spending a decent amount of time reading into contracts and what you feel is acceptable. Often, your deposit is protected by DPS (a protection scheme) and with a few mistakes on your part, you can lose a large amount of it with little grounds for argument. Many contracts say that you won’t be charged for ‘general wear and tear’. Make sure you know exactly what will classify for this, so there aren’t any nasty surprises.
When you arrive at your property, be sure to make note of anything that you think is broken, damaged or marked. Keep a dated collection of these photos and notes, and send them to your letting agents. Keep the emails!