What happens when you rent a property?
It can seem like a scary process when you look to rent your first property, particularly if you are doing it by yourself. However, you needn’t be worried. The process is fairly straightforward, and there are only a few stages between you and the house / flat of your dreams!
1: Find several properties that you like the look of
One of the best ways to do this is on property websites such as Right Move or Prime Location. These sites allow you to search for properties in the required area, and add parameters such as monthly rent cost or number of bedrooms. Each property usually comes with at least one photograph, and details about the furnishings that are included, the council tax band and car parking information.
Make a list of between five and ten properties that you like the look of, and take note of the estate agents’ telephone numbers and company names (it may be different for each property).
2: Arrange some viewings
Once you have your list of properties, call up the estate agents to arrange viewings. Try to leave about 45 minutes to an hour between each viewing to allow time to get to the next property.
You will probably find that some properties will have already been let, hence why you started with a fairly long list. It is likely that you will arrange a maximum of about five viewings in a day.
3: Attend your viewings!
It is impossible to judge a property based on photographs. Visiting them really helps you to get a feel for the property, as well as the surrounding area. You can look at the condition of the house and furnishings, and the estate agent will be able to answer any questions that you have.
4: Put down a holding fee
If you decide to rent a property, call the estate agent as soon as possible to arrange payment of a holding fee. This is usually a couple of hundred pounds, and serves as the estate agent’s fee, but also means that nobody else can rent the property unless you decide to pull out. The holding fee is usually non-returnable, even if you back out of the rental, so only pay it if you are sure that you want the property.
5: Reference checks and guarantors
The estate agent will send you (usually by email, but could be post) some reference check forms to fill out. You will have to fill out your personal details, current and past employment details and a history of your previous residencies.
You may be asked to provide one or more guarantors. They are people (usually family members) who sign a contract agreeing to pay the rent should you fail to do so. They will also have to fill out the reference check forms.
Once you send the completed forms back, the estate agents will contact your employers and various other referees, to determine whether or not you are suitable to rent the property. Don’t worry about this – they are just looking for assurance that you are capable of paying the rent and that you haven’t wrecked any previous properties!!!
6: Put down a deposit & pay the first month’s rent
Once the reference checks have been approved, you will have to pay a deposit. This is usually equal to the cost of a month’s rent, and serves as a safeguard against any damages you may cause to the property. It is usual for this to go in a government-backed scheme called The Deposit Protection Service to protect your money. At the end of your tenancy, the estate agent will survey the property and if any repairs / cleaning are needed, the cost will be taken from your deposit and you will get the remaining sum. If no work is needed, you will get back 100% of your deposit.
You may have to pay the first month’s rent in advance.
7: Sign a contract
You will sign a contract agreeing to pay the rent for the duration of the tenancy, and also agree to the upkeep of the property.
8: Get the keys & complete an inventory
On your move in date, the estate agent or landlord will give you a set of keys, and complete an inventory. An inventory is a list of the condition of the property (e.g. any stains on the carpets or chipped bathroom tiles), and the furnishings (e.g. coffee table has large scratch on the top; sofa has stain on left cushion). It also serves as a record of the exact furnishings that are included. All furnishings must be present when your tenancy ends, otherwise you will be charged for their replacement.
The purpose of the inventory is to highlight anything “wrong” with the property, so that you will not be charged with fixing it when your tenancy ends. Before you sign the inventory, carefully check each room in the house to make sure you agree with what is listed. If you think something else should be on the inventory, list it down.
After you have signed the inventory, you can move in!