You’ve grown and reached that point; it’s time to fly the nest. You have to become a first time tenant at some point.
If you live within 10 miles of a London zone, you – like me – are not going to be able to afford to buy a house until at least the time that Oprah becomes President.
So the choices lie at:
A – live with your parents until the end of time and hope you marry rich
B – sink your money into a rental property and have freedom
If option B is the only way to save your sanity, here’s some tips from an estate agent turned property manager, who is also a tenant (Me!). Take heed of my first time tenant advice and you should sail through the process.
My advice to a first time tenant is to ensure you thoroughly research the 5 areas below
1 – Location, Location, Location
There are so many factors in deciding which property to rent. You need to check
*that it’s commutable to your place of work,
*that the transport suits your needs (ie access to a tube line that has step free access),
*that there are amenties nearby if you’re a disorganised nightmare like me who has to go food shopping at least 3 times a week
*the crime rates in your area (this will affect insurance etc)
*If you’re looking for something lively, you’re going to be best within walking distance of a high street.
*If you’re a homebod and not a fan of drunk people singing outside your door at midnight every night, then you’re best looking a few streets further away than stumbling distance.
2 – Budget
Yes, you want to live somewhere nice. But you also don’t want to struggle to make it to the end of the month after you’ve paid your rent and bills.
All the below need to go into your rental budget. You need to ensure that after these, and your other costs (car, phone, Netflix etc) that you still have money for food, fun, family and savings!
*Council Tax (you find the council tax costs of any property in the UK on Council Tax Finder
As a first time tenant, advice would always suggest to over-estimate your budget to give you some cushion room.
3 – Property Type
Very rarely in the UK will you find a landlord who will allow you to redecorate fully. So you need to make sure that the property you pick suits you. As an estate agent, I believe there is a property out there for everyone.
*Modern new builds tend to have smaller spaces
*Older Victorian properties tend to have beautiful features but single glazing
*If you want a garden, you’re going to naturally have a higher rent
*Communal gardens usually mean you don’t have to do gardening but do have to sunbathe with strangers
*Private gardens are great for having a BBQ but you will be responsible for maintaining it
*Ex local authority flats tend to be in really ugly buildings but are often very spacious with lots of storage, in well maintained developments
A first time tenant is usually either really picky and ends up over budget or doesn’t stipulate what they want and ends up in something they don’t love. Know what you want and stick to it!
4 – Agency
Most properties are advertised through estate agents. In my experience, most landlords who do not advertise through agencies do so because they want to save money. They tend to continue with that attitude, taking shortcuts with repairs and more. Having an agent gives a landlord some accountability. It also means that they value their property and want to find the best tenant too. The majority of properties rented through agencies are managed by them too. They will be your point of contact throughout your tenancy and will take care of repairs and queries should they arise. This is what I do for a day job!
To ensure you’re with a reputable agency, there are a few things to consider:
* Google reviews – people will turn here in the best and worst case scenarios so it’s always interesting to see who has taken the effort and what they’ve written
* Word of mouth – even in the digital age, this is so important. A lot of my business comes from referrals from tenants who have recommended my team for our reputation of being honest, efficient, friendly and trustworthy!
5 – Pre-moving costs
If you go through an agency there will be the inevitable costs. We get a bad rep for it in the media. There are some agents that charge way over what is reasonable but these tend to be big, corporate companies. For the average high street independent agency, these fees are vital for survival. Admin fees pay my wages!
Ensure that your agency costs are in line with the average in your market. You’ll most likely need to save for them so it’s worth knowing in advance. By law, the agency has to display their fees on their website. If they don’t, don’t use them!
* Admin fees – usually between £200 to £300 per tenancy. This covers all the administrative work involved in creating your tenancy.
* Referencing costs – usually between £30 and £75 per person, depending on the referencing agency used. This includes landlord reference, employment reference, credit check, Right to Rent check and can include Anti Money Laundering checks
* One months’ rent in advance
* Six weeks’ rent as security deposit (to cover any damages etc). This must be held in a deposit protection scheme, by law. Don’t be afraid to ask which one they use if you’re unsure!
*Additional costs. This may include a higher deposit if you’re a student, or if you have pets, or an adverse credit history.
*Check In or Check Out fee – Generally, one of these is paid by the landlord and the other by the tenant. Having a full inventory at the beginning and end of the tenancy protects both the tenant and the landlord. It will ensure that any defects or damage created before you moved in is noted, so there is no liability on you at the end of the tenancy and no unwarranted deductions from the deposit.
If you don’t go through an agency, you’ll likely only pay rent, deposit and check in / check out cost.
There’s a lot more to moving than you would think!
There’s a lot to prepare when you are looking for a property, whether it’s your first or tenth time. Don’t be overwhelmed. Be organised, research and you’ll be fine.
I’ll happily answer any questions you have, either in the comments, or via email or my social channels.
Please remember, though I am a property professional, I am not an expert. I will offer my opinions based on my experience as a tenant, letting agent and property manager, but please research more outside of my thoughts!
Good luck – whether you’re a first time tenant or tenth time tenant (like me), keep strong and get excited for your new home!