Viewing a rental property? Arm yourself with these essential questions to ask the letting agent.
1. Who pays the bills?
This is a crucial question, as landlords often do things differently. Gas, electric and water bills in particular can make a massive difference to your monthly outgoings, but some landlords account for them within the rent. Ask who’s responsible for council tax, broadband and a TV licence, too, and if it’s a flat, check if you have to pay service charges and ground rent, or if this falls to the landlord.
2. What is the parking situation?
Find out if there is allocated parking available. If it is unallocated, with a block of flats for example, check how this works – is it first-come-first-served? If on-road parking is your only option, check if you need a permit.
3. Can I switch energy suppliers?
Find out if you are tied to specific suppliers, or if you could shop around to find a better deal if you wish. Usually, if you pay the bills directly to the supplier yourself, you are free to choose who you like.
4. What’s the energy performance certificate (EPC) rating?
It’s a good idea to find out how energy efficient a home is likely to be; the closer the rating is to A, the less it will cost to run and heat. Legally, a rental home must score E or better on its EPC, so if it is less than this, the landlord is obliged to make improvements before letting it out.
5. Can I have pets?
Many landlords are reluctant to accept pets, but did you know that they cannot ban them without good reason? Be sure to ask the question, and prepare to assure the letting agent and landlord that you will care for your pet responsibly, and that they will be suited to the home.
6. What furniture comes with the home?
Find out if a property comes furnished, unfurnished or part-furnished – and check what this actually means. You need to know exactly what you can expect to find waiting for you on moving day. Ask about white goods and other fixtures and fittings, such as curtains, too.
7. Who looks after the garden?
If the home has outdoor space, find out who is responsible for its upkeep. If it’s a private garden, you’ll probably be expected to keep it tidy, with the landlord looking after more significant maintenance such as trees and hedges. If it’s a communal garden, ask if there is a gardener already in place.
8. Can I redecorate?
Landlords vary when it comes to changes they’ll allow a tenant to make. Some insist you keep the place exactly as it is, but others may be open to you putting up shelves or painting walls. Even if you don’t plan on anything major, always check their policy. You don’t want to lose your deposit over a picture hook.
If you’re looking to rent a property or if you’re a landlord searching for the best local letting agent, contact the Carter & May team today.