How to Find a Rental Property?
Whilst renting a property for the first time is exciting, there are a number of steps renters can take when searching for their next home. Here we help first time tenants cut through some of the terminology and heresy, giving practical advice on how to find a rental property.
Establish a Budget
Before you begin your search for your ideal rental property you should have a better understanding of your finance and therefore the kind of rental property you will be able to rent. It is often advised that renters should detail all of the attributes of a property they deem to be essential and priorities these features and amenities. This doesn’t need to be complicated either, perhaps it goes without saying but you would be paying an excessive amount of rent if you take out an agreement on a four bedroom property when you realistically only need two.
Another consideration would be pet friendly rentals; whilst landlords can no longer maintain a blanket ban stance on preventing renters from letting their property alongside a fury companion, it is common for pet friendly landlords to charge a slightly higher amount of rent each month, something many will have to account for when finding a rental property. Perhaps one of the most significant factors when determining the amount of rent a tenant can expect to pay is if the rental property is furnished or unfurnished. As can be expected, fully furnishing an entire rental property can be an expensive endeavour for landlords and they look to recuperate this cost through an increased rental price. With this being said, if you are bringing furnishings with you to the rental property, whilst you will avoid this higher rental fee you will have to consider taking out your own content insurance, as the existing policy will only cover the landlord’s possessions.
It is also essential that prospective tenants consider if they will need to make an additional budget for their utility bills Whilst in some cases the costs of these services such as gas electric, water and broadband can be included in the agreed rental payments, this is varies between tenancies and you should consult your specific agreement to determine if you are liable for these costs.
The Importance of Location
The ideal location for a tenant will of course vary drastically between individuals, their circumstance, commitments and preferences; there is no one size fits all approach to finding an ideally placed rental opportunity. Typically young professionals and students will seek out a spot in city centre locations, with families being found to rent in areas close to schools, parks and supermarkets. These amenities and their proximity to your rental should be key considerations when assessing your future home. Will the rental compliment your lifestyle, or will it add to an already lengthy commute, be void of public transport links and nowhere near any restaurants, shops or nightlife.
Making the Most Of Property Viewings
It goes without saying that property viewing are the best way in which a tenant can determine if a rental opportunity is the right fit for them. Not only is his a fantastic opportunity to ask the landlord any questions regarding the tenancy agreement and what is included in the rental charge, but to see if any parking is available, how much you can expect to pay in council tax and perhaps any information regarding your new neighbours.
Prospective tenants should also take this time to asses if there are any repairs that need to be conducted to any areas of the rental. If this is the case then requests can be made for these issues to be addressed before the tenancy period begins. Whilst this may not always be the case, if the current tenant is in the property you could also ask how attentive the landlord is to remedial work and any other issues that their residents have brought to their attention.
When attending a property viewing you can request that the landlord provides you with a copy of the most recent energy performance certificate. As the name suggests this document will show how energy efficient the rental property is, alongside estimations of how much it would cost to run. The rating that each property is awarded rates its efficiency on a scale from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient. In order to let out their property the rental must meet the minimum energy efficiency standard of an E rating. Alongside this landlord will also have to demonstrate that their rental property abides by current safety standards. To this end they will also be required to provide tenants with valid copies of the Electric and Gas safety certificates, confirming that the appliances contained within the rental property are safe for use.
After a tenant has found their ideal rental opportunity they will be required to pay the landlord a holding deposit. In effect, once the holding deposit is paid by the tenant the rental property is reserved, as the landlord is legally obligated to take the property off the market and not accept any offers from additional interested parties. Providing that the tenancy agreement is signed and the tenancy proceeds, the tenant will see this amount returned, however this will typically take the form of a reduction in the amount of rent the tenant will be required to pay for their initial rental charge. In the instance that the landlord decides that they do not wish to progress the tenancy agreement with this tenant, the prospective renter will have the full amount of the tenancy deposit returned. However, if it is found that the aspiring renter has provided the landlord with false information during referencing checks, or has decided that they do not wish to rent the property, despite the landlord reserving the opportunity for them, then the property owner will be permitted to keep the full amount as compensation.
When moving into a rental property you will also be required to pay a tenancy, or security deposit. Despite the different terms, the deposit is one and the same but can still be a significant cost that aspiring renters must account for when pricing up a rental opportunity. The tenant fees Act 2019 prevents landlords from charging new tenants excessive amounts for this deposit. This is partly accomplished through placing a limit on the amount a rental property owner can request from a tenant for the security deposit. If the amount of rent a tenant pays for the rental property each year is under £50,000, the landlord is able to request a maximum of five weeks rent to cover the deposit. However, if the amount the landlord charges you is over this threshold, they are able to take up to six weeks rent for the tenancy deposit. Whilst this amount does seem somewhat steep, especially considering the tenant hasn’t stepped foot in the rental property at the point of paying, in most cases the full deposit is returned. The reason that this is not always the case is because the tenancy deposit can be used by the landlord to cover the cost of repairing any damage to the rental property and its contents, caused during the fixed period. If at the end of the fixed term the tenant has missed any rental payment, this can also be deducted from the amount repaid.
Prepare for the Referencing Process
The tenant referencing process is an extensive check on the suitability of a tenant for a given rental opportunity. Whilst this is not mandatory, given the insight landlords gain through referencing any prospective tenants, it is fair to say that it is only in the extreme minority of cases that you will not have to prepare for this series of checks.
Whilst these assessments may seem daunting, in reality the tenant merely provides the landlords with various documents such as official Identification, proof of address and appropriate verification of their right to rent. Alongside confirming the identity of those that could become their future tenants, a landlord will also want to know if you will be able to meet the required rental payments outlined within the tenancy agreement. To this end, prospective renters will need to supply the owner of the rental property with a reference from their current employer alongside bank statements dating back the last few months. This will allow for affordability checks to be conducted, ensuring the tenant is indeed in receipts of a stable income and will not be plunged into rent arrears alongside other debts if they proceed with the tenancy agreement. In Addition to this you will be required to contact your current or past landlord in order to obtain a reference from them. This functions similarly to an employer asking for a reference and works to provide the landlord with the knowledge that their future tenant has ideally never been late on a rental payment before, hasn’t been a source of anti-social behaviour and didn’t leave the property in a state of disrepair at the end of the fixed term.
Of course landlords will assess each tenant on their individual merits alongside what is revealed in the referencing process but it is generally recommended by letting agents that a tenant’s annual salary is at least 30 time the amount the landlord is requesting for rent each month.
It is essential that you provide the landlord all of the necessary information, as if anything is found to have been withheld or given information falsified it goes without saying that it is highly likely the property owner will choose not to progress the tenancy agreement with you.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting a Rental Property?
If you have found your ideal rental property unfortunately it is likely that you are not the only renter with their heart set on securing the property as their future home. But, there are things tenants can do to tip the balance in their favour.
Good Reference From a Previous Landlord
As can be expected a property owner will be highly incentivised to accept an offer from a tenant with a glowing reference from a previous landlord. Knowing that you meet all of the affordability criteria established by the referencing assessment, alongside having the confidence of another landlord to assure the agreed upon rental payments have been historically upheld can go far in easing the mind of your next landlord. Furthermore, the knowledge that their buy to let investment will be in safe hands, allowing them to avoid the dispute process, deductions from the tenancy deposit and conducting extensive remedial work, will be another vote of confidence in any tenants favour.
Pay Rent Upfront
When trying to get the edge in securing your ideal rental property offering to pay the landlord rent in advance could be the deciding factor. Naturally if the property is vacant then the landlord will not be receiving any rental income, so it will be within their best interests to pursue a tenant that offers them this additional financial security. By offering to pay several months’ worth of rent in advance, the landlord may also be inclined to offer you a lower amount of rent to pay each month, actually saving you a significant amount in the long run. Every landlord’s worst nightmare is to have to seek repossession of their rental property from a tenant that is neglecting their obligations and accumulating rent arrears. Whilst this is far from ideal for the tenant as they would be facing some financial difficulty, this could be detrimental to the landlord, not to mention expensive to pursue.
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February 12, 2021
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