Virtual Viewings for Tenants
Looking for a rental property in the UK but caught up in coronavirus lockdown? There have been many lockdowns during 2020 and 2021 and depending on when you’re reading this, you may be in one right now.
The property market was shut down completely during the first lockdown in March 2020 but that’s no longer the case. And, once it opened again, thankfully, many quick-thinking estate agents and landlords had turned to virtual viewing as a means of still being able to show property while keeping social distancing in mind.
How Do You Do Virtual Viewings?
How you use virtual viewing technology, depends firstly on what type of view you’re getting. For instance, it could be a pre-recorded video where the landlord or estate agent has filmed the property while walking through it.
This isn’t ideal, as it doesn’t give you much independence in terms of what you are looking at. But, it does give you an idea of the property and the condition of the interior and means that you can either rule it out straight away or ask for a virtual viewing.
Then again, it maybe that your viewing is live from the start. This means that you and the estate agent or landlord are ‘seeing’ the property at the same time (albeit he or she will actually be there and holding up the camera). This tour is usually carried out using a social media tool, such as WhatsApp, Facetime, or the meeting service Zoom. This option is better for viewing since it allows the tenant to ask questions (like they would if they were present in the property alongside the estate agent).
Questions to Ask on a Virtual House Tour
Really, the type of questions you can ask on your real-time virtual viewing are similar to those you would ask, again, if you were present. You could, for instance, ask about the age of the kitchen units, whether a dark patch you’d spotted near the ceiling was damp, and how old the boiler is.
It’s fine too to ask the estate agent or landlord to step outside so that you can see the state of the garden, or how busy the road is in front of the house. You might also want to ask about parking and what the neighbours are like.
Can You ‘Sign up’ After a Virtual Viewing?
Once you’ve had your virtual viewing you might then want to move fast to get the rental property taken off the market. But slow down. First ask the estate agent to send you the video so that you can download it (this can always be used as evidence in the event of a dispute).
You might also ask the landlord or estate agent for a ‘break clause.’ This means that half a year or 10 months down the line you can move out without any financial penalty if the flat isn’t as nice as you thought once you actually move in. This should be a perfectly reasonable request since you weren’t able to physically view the property because of lockdown.
You might also agree to rent the flat ‘subject to a physical visit.’ Provided it’s not breaking lockdown rules – and social distancing measures are always in place – that should certainly be a reasonable request for a landlord or estate agent to take on board too.
The whole idea of virtual viewings is to restrict the number of physical viewings with the idea that only if a tenant is very keen on a property should this go ahead. And, even then, it should only be with one prospective tenant (and their partner/family member) at a time.
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