10 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Flat or House

Wooden house with question mark on

When a landlord is looking to let their property, they will always try to sell it in the best way possible, but sometimes they won’t give you all the answers upfront. So you will have to do a bit of digging.

If you are looking at a rental property, there are a number of vital questions you should ask the landlord or letting agent. These will give you a clearer understanding of the property and an indication as to whether you see yourself living there.

1. How long has the property been on the market?

The answer to this isn’t necessarily a key indicator, but it can be aligned with the truth. If a property has been on the market for a long time but no one has taken up the option of living there, then it is likely that there are some key factors putting people off it. Ask questions about property specificities to uncover what may be the problem. There may not be a problem and might just be lucky, but especially in this day in age, a rental property being on the market for a long time isn’t a great sign.

2. Who is responsible for what?

Make sure you know what you are responsible for within the property. Are you responsible for the cleaning of windows for example or does the landlord have a service that they consistently use? The key point to take from this one is to know what to do if anything breaks or fails. You should understand whether that’s your responsibility or theirs to deal with. More often than not, if it’s anything to do with the structure of the property then it should be the landlord’s responsibility to deal with it on your behalf.

3. What furniture is included?

When you are viewing a property, it is possible that you will be seeing a property currently inhabited by others, and although it might look nice, you may be surprised at how much it actually belongs to the tenant. You might like the look of a desk in a room, but it may not actually be included in the property. Be careful when assuming or visualising the look of the property and clarify exactly what will be included. This is also so you can prepare and consider what essentials you may have to purchase ahead of the move.

4. What are the included services like? (TV/Internet/water/heating/)

A follow on question to the previous one, make sure you know what you’re getting. Internet may be provided by the landlord, but if it is completely unusable then it may put you off, or it could be something where you can enquire about getting an upgrade. This is the same with water, heating, TV and any other appliances that you’ll need every day. Have a clear picture of what sort of state they are in, what you should expect from them and obviously how easy they are to operate.

5. What are the neighbours like?

This is dependent on the particular property, but there are several scenarios in which you might ask this question. The property might be a semi-detached or a terraced house where you’d share a wall or a fence with a neighbour, and it’s always worth asking how your potential neighbours behave.

An even more personal scenario could be a property where you are simply renting a room and there are shared living areas. In this case, it is essential that you ask this question and if possible, meet the people. If you can foresee a potential clash, you may not want to live there. Is it something you could live through, or would their behaviour impact your life at the property?

6. How much can I decorate?

Of course, you’ll want to have some sort of licence to do what you like with your place. However, it is well within the landlords right to restrict elements of the property with which you can play with. Clarify exactly what parts of the property you can decorate or customise to suit your taste. Many landlords will allow you to do some decorating, but some may be wary of allowing their tenants to do that as they want to preserve the state of their property for the future. This is why it is best to ask the question beforehand so you know whether you want to move into the property and/or to avoid any disruption down the line.

7. When is the rent due and how do I pay it?

Perhaps an obvious one, but it could be easy to assume certain things in this regard. For example you may assume that rent would be due at the start of the month, when in fact the landlord might have other days which they go with instead. Consider your situation, how and when you get paid. You may not realise, but if the timings and format don’t coincide with your routine, then it could become problematic.

8. What should I do in an emergency?

One of the most important questions to ask is “what should I do in an emergency?”. The answer is hopefully something you’ll never have to act on, but you need to know how to deal with a variety of situations or who to contact to resolve them.

9. Can you fix this before I move in?

Follow up any concerns you might have about any of the previous questions with this one. It’s unlikely that a rental property will be perfect, but there might be something you or the landlord can do about these concerns. Generally it is just a bit of wear and tear and more thank likely it can be fixed, so it is always worth asking the landlord if they can do anything about it. They might be willing to comply to get you in their property and pay rent.

10. Is there anything else you have noticed?

The final question is actually for you, is there anything else you should be asking? Each property is unique and has its own circumstances, so be on your toes, listen and be observant. There may be something specific that you notice which should be queried. Make notes if you want to make sure you don’t forget to ask about it. The last thing you want is to move into a rental property and remember one of your queries a bit too late, resulting in a disruptive experience whilst living there.

If you’re in need of any more advice or support, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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