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Tips for viewing a home to rent

Make sure you ask the right questions before you sign up for a property to rent.

Inspect the condition of the property

Landlords are responsible for most repairs.

If you see any problems, check that they will be repaired before you move in. Ask who you should contact if you need to report repairs.

You can complain about an unsafe home, but it's a problem best avoided from the start.

Inside

Check for signs of:

The exterior

Make sure the outside of the property is in good condition. Look for loose roof tiles, leaking pipes and gutters and crumbling brickwork.

Communal areas

Ask who is responsible for the upkeep of any communal areas such as a garden, entrance hall or stairwell.

Ask about gas, electrical and fire safety

Gas safety

All gas appliances such as boilers, cookers and heaters must be checked every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Ask to see record of the latest safety check. Your landlord must give you a certificate of gas safety before you move in.

Electrics

Your landlord has electrical safety responsibilities.

Your landlord should have electrical appliances checked every 12 months. Usually the electrician puts a sticker on the plug of each appliance saying when they were last checked. Keep your eye out for any fittings that are loose from the wall.

Fire safety

Check that there is a working smoke alarm on each floor.

Find out about fire safety

Check the heating

Check what sort of heating the property uses and ask the landlord how much the bills are.

Check furniture and appliances

Ask if any furniture and appliances are provided (such as cooker, fridge, freezer and washing machine). Check if your landlord will repair or replace them if they go wrong.

To avoid disputes, make sure you and your landlord agree an inventory to record the condition of everything that comes with the property.

If you have furniture that you need to bring in, check it will fit.

Find out about the landlord

Find out how to contact your landlord including in case of emergencies.

If a letting agent will be managing the property, check they are registered with an professional body and letting agent redress scheme.

Check the costs of renting

Rent will be your biggest monthly outgoing, so check you can afford it.

If you need to claim housing benefit to help pay the rent, check the landlord is willing to rent to you.

Check if you have to pay a deposit and rent in advance.

Ask about other bills such as gas, electricity, water and council tax:

  • how much they're likely to be
  • what is and isn't included in the rent

Check if extra charges apply - some properties have a service charge for the upkeep of communal areas.

Check how long the contract is for

Many tenancies start off as fixed-term contracts, often for six or 12 months.

You can't usually end a fixed-term tenancy during the fixed term unless there's a break clause that allows you or the landlord to end the tenancy early.

Check if you will be able to renew your tenancy when a fixed-term contract ends. Your landlord has to give you notice if they want you to leave.

You could stay on a periodic or rolling contract if you don't renew with another fixed term. These typically roll from month to month.

You can end a periodic or rolling tenancy by giving correct notice.

Brenda's Story: 'When looking round a property, use your nose'

Brenda, a lawyer and lecturer, lives with her two daughters and granddaughter in Manchester. The cottage she rented had severe damp and mould problems. The smell was the first indication that the property needed repairs. Read Brenda's full story


Last updated 09 May 2017 | © Shelter

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