With many young people being priced out of the sales market, more and more UK residents are renting than ever before. This is good news for landlords and estate agents, but can make life difficult for those of us caught in bidding wars for the best and most conveniently located homes.
With such fierce competition, it can often feel like applying to rent a property is similar to that of a job interview. The application process is vast, and renters are vetted more thoroughly than ever before. So, if you want to find your perfect property – and make sure you get it – you’ll need to get organised.
Firstly, it’s important to find an estate agency you can trust. You’ll want to avoid paying any hidden fees, as these can ramp up your moving costs considerably. It’s best to look out for an agency that is part of a tenant protection scheme, ideally one that is registered with the Property Ombudsman. This will ensure your rights are protected.
It’s a good idea to do a bit of research before you settle on an agency to help you find your new home. There are plenty of review sites online where customers go to provide honest accounts of their experiences. Here, you’ll get a general idea of which companies you can trust in your area, and which to avoid altogether.
Once you’ve settled on an agency, it’s best to familiarise yourself with their website. The site should display contact information, details about the company and their experience in the industry, as well as their terms and conditions. It’s a good idea to read these through now so you understand what you’re signing up for – although bear in mind that fees will vary between listings.
When you’ve assessed this information, it’s time to start browsing rental properties. Normally, a property search will enable you to enter criteria that are relevant to you, restricting your results so you’re not bombarded with properties that are outside your area or price range, so you’ll need to think carefully about what you’re looking for.
Consider how much rent you can afford to pay, whereabouts in the area you want to live, and how many bedrooms you’ll need. Some sites will pose other questions to, like whether you need a car parking space, want to be close to a school, or need access to public transport.
If you’d rather speak to someone in person about your property requirements, registering with your chosen agency is a great way to kick off your search. Find the company’s details online and give them a call. Remember to tell them exactly what you’re looking for so they can select the best properties to meet your criteria.
If you’re a student or own a pet, it’s a good idea to let your estate agent know in advance, so they can rule out any properties that may not be appropriate. Landlords can be quite selective, so it pays to bear this in mind when you apply.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to tell your estate agent if you are receiving any benefits at all, as some landlords won’t accept this as a form of payment. Likewise, most landlords don’t allow smokers to live in their properties, so it’s worth considering switching to E cigarettes if you’re desperate to get into that property!
It’s advisable not to put all of your eggs in one basket, as properties tend to get snapped up like hot cakes on the current market. Instead, make a shortlist of the properties you like, and agree to view each of them in turn. Remember, some properties can look very different to their photographs so viewing them is always recommended.