Renting a home
Rental property checklist
By Joe Elvin
Rental property checklistSome rental homes are better than others - and we're here to help you decide whether the house you're viewing is a diamond or a dud. Here are our top tips for savvy tenants.
Property viewing checklist
At each rental property viewing, take your time to check the property to make sure there are no problems.
- Check the exterior of the property – are the gutters or any pipes leaking?
- Check inside – do the lights work? Do taps produce water?
- Security – do windows and doors open easily and close securely. Are there adequate locks on the doors?
- Are there enough electric sockets?
- Are smoke alarms fitted? And are they connected to the mains, or will you have to replace the batteries?
- Ask to view a copy of the property certificates. These include the energy performance certificate (EPC) and gas and electrical safety certificates. The better rating the EPC gives the property, the lower your utility bills are likely to be. This could save you hundreds of pounds a year. See our guide to energy performance certificates for more information.
- If you're moving into shared accommodation, check whether property should have a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO) licence from the local council. This usually applies to property that is three or more stories and occupied by five or more people who are not in the same family. If it is a licensed HMO, the property should have more safeguards for the tenants, such as fire doors.
Find out more: How to find the best places to live - tips for evaluating the local neighbourhood
Questions about the tenancy
It's important to know from the start how much it will cost you to live in the property, and what you can expect from the landlord/letting agent while you're living there. Here are some important questions to ask:
- How much is the rent on a monthly basis?
- What is included in the rent?
- What additional bills do you have to pay and how much are they likely to be?
- How much deposit is required? Which tenancy deposit protection scheme do you protect the deposit in?
- What notice period to quit is required?
- Who should you contact in an emergency, such as a flood or fire?
- What insurance does the landlord have to cover the property? What do you need to insure yourself?
Find out more: Best and worst home insurance - see our list of Which? Recommended Providers.
Questions on letting agent fees
Most rental properties are advertised by letting agents rather than directly by landlords. If you move into one of these properties you will pay admin fees to the letting agent, as well as putting down a deposit on the property.
In November 2016's Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, announced that the government intends to ban letting agent fees charged to tenants completely.
However this change will not happen immediately, so in the meantime it is still really important to understand how much a letting agent could charge you.
These fees will often cost hundreds of pounds so it's really important to ask your agent about them. Typical fees charged by letting agents include an administration charge, a credit reference check, and check-in or check-out fees.
Letting agents may not tell you what fees they are going to charge you until you have decided you would like to move into a property. So make sure you ask at the earliest opportunity what their fees are so you can figure out if you have enough money.
Here are some key questions to ask about letting agent fees:
- What fees will I pay to move into the property, and how much will they cost? If necessary, prompt them and ask if that includes admin, credit reference check and check-in fees.
- Will I pay any fees to move out of the property?
- Are the fees per person or per property? For example, are the fees divided between everyone moving into a property, or does each person pay the full amount?
- Do the fees quoted include VAT? Letting agents will often quote fees without adding 20% Value Added Tax.
- Can I have the fees in writing?
- Last updated: November 2016
- Updated by: Stephen Maunder