If you’re among the rapidly rising number of tenants in the UK, you’ll probably have your own list of essential questions to ask your next landlord. So, what do you ask before signing on the dotted line?
Doing the groundwork, establishing your expectations and avoiding any nasty surprises before signing the tenancy agreement is a wise move.
But what questions should be on the tip of your tongue when you’re looking to rent?
The weird and the wonderful
In a survey by BDRC Continental, landlords shared what was most important to them when choosing tenants. Nearly three quarters go with gut instinct, with two thirds citing openness and a proof of income. A similar number said references and employment history would affect their decision.
But what about the questions prospective tenants are asking? According to the same survey, outlandish requests aren’t as rare as you might imagine. Apparently, an optimistic potential tenant queried whether or not their ‘pet horse could be kept in the kitchen’.
Somewhat more reasonably, a colleague of mine requested a thorough clean after finding an unexplained pool of blood in the kitchen…
For my mum, renting is a distant and romantic memory. As such her requests for new rental properties were a bit more demanding: fresh mattresses, new sofas and a dishwasher. However, when my most recent landlord refused to even provide a fire alarm, I learnt that such things are pure fantasy. It’s worth a try if you’ve got the nerve though.
The essential stuff
On a serious note, it’s best to prepare a list of important queries before committing to a property, be it a long- or short-term contract.
When it comes to letting agents, our latest research found wide scale poor practice, including unexpected fees and poor customer service. And two thirds of tenants don’t know whether their agent is signed up to a professional body (only 60% of agents are).
So, as well as asking your letting agent whether they’re signed up to a professional body, there are questions you’ll want to ask your future landlord (you can find all of the tips in our top 10 questions to ask landlords or letting agents):
- The length of contract and break clauses: in case it all goes pear shaped, best to know how early you can get out.
- Utilities and council tax: Are any bills or taxes covered in the rent? If not, perhaps it’s worth switching providers to get the best deal.
- How safe is your deposit? Make sure you find out which tenancy deposit scheme your money is sitting in.
- Who to contact in case of an emergency? If not your landlord, make sure it’s someone close by and easy to contact.
- Maintenance: who has to deal with, and pay for, any maintenance? The landlord, tenant or agent?
So, to the tenants out there, what are your most important things to request, double-check or barter for before renting a property?