Rental property checklist
By Joe Elvin
Rental property checklist
Find out how to choose a rental property, including what to look for during a viewing, and what questions to ask the letting agent.
Finding the right rental property can make a huge difference in your quality of life. We explain how you can identify the best place to live, including:
- What to look for at a property viewing
- Key questions about the tenancy contract
- What to ask your letting agent
At each rental property viewing, take your time to check the property to make sure there are no problems.
Are the gutters or any pipes leaking? Are the walls or windwoframes cracked? Is there a garden or outdoor area you'll need to maintain?
Do the taps work - both for hot and cold water? Is the water pressure high enough? Do all the light switches work? Are there enough electric sockets?
Are there any signs of pests, including mouse droppings, cracks or holes in the walls? When was the property last treated for pests? And are there signs of mould - particularly in damp areas like the kitchen or bathroom?
Confirm which white goods come with the property, including fridge, washing machine and dishwasher. But also make sure the appliances are clean and in good working order - and ask if the agent will replace them if not.
Do windows and doors open easily and close securely? Are there adequate locks on the doors? Do you have adequate escape routes in case of fire?
Are smoke alarms fitted? And are they connected to the mains, or will you have to replace the batteries? If the property uses gas, is there a CO2 detector installed?
After the viewing, 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
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.
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 include an administration charge, a credit reference check, and check-in or check-out fees - often amounting to hundreds of pounds.
Letting agents may not tell you their fees until you have decided you to move into a property. So make sure you ask at the earliest opportunity.
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, 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: December 2017
- Updated by: Stefanie Garber