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Top tips for viewing a rental property

While renting does afford you the flexibility to try out different areas, renting a London property invariably involves a significant financial investment and it’s important you get it right. Finding that perfect rental property can be a stressful and time consuming affair, here are some tips to make the process a whole lot easier.

It’s all in the detail

Take your time and undertake a thorough inspection of the property. It’s easy to get carried away with a property you’ve fallen in love with and be tempted to make an offer right away but it’s important to get your practical hat on first.

An inspection extends to more than a cursory glance around. Check if the property is adequately insulated and soundproofed; check for details like shower pressure, double glazing, do the blinds have black-out lining. Inspect the boiler and radiators, don’t be embarrassed to turn on the taps and switch on the lighting. It might seem a bit pedantic, but check the phone signal. If you’re going to be living there for a while, you don’t want to suffer a bad phone reception! Be aware of critical maintenance issues that can often be symptomatic of more serious underlying problems; crumbling walls or cracks in the ceiling/floorboards, a distinct ominous smell of damp and mould is a sure sign that the property has fallen into disrepair and this can be a potential health hazard.

Be aware of the direction the property faces, it could mean the difference between a south facing reception flooded with natural light or indeed a living space with very little light at all. Home staging can often be deceiving, that fresh lick of paint could actually be a cover for the mould below or strategically placed mirrors can make a room appear larger than it actually is.

Bring a friend along as an extra pair of eyes; it doesn’t hurt to have a second opinion. If you’re doing several viewings, take a notebook along or make a wish list beforehand. Find out if the property is professionally managed, this can make a world of difference when it comes to addressing issues you might encounter during your tenancy.

Breakdown the costs

Tenants’ fees

At the risk of stating the obvious, work out the total rent you will be paying. Most rents are advertised on a weekly basis. We advise our tenants to multiply the weekly rent by 52 then divide by 12 and this will give you the precise monthly amount. Don’t forget to check with your agent what other costs there might be such as service charges. Most rentals do include these but it’s always good to double check. In some buildings, heating and water are also included, but this is not always the case.

Once you have made an offer, you will be asked to pay a deposit upfront, ensure it is registered with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. It’s important to get clarity on the fees you will charged- holding fees, administration fees, credit references, guarantor fees or service charges for maintenance of communal areas. This will give you a reasonable estimate of what your monthly outgoings will look like. Enquire about the council tax band of the property; of course full time students are exempt from paying council tax.

It helps to have a flexible moving date as landlords are obviously keen to avoid void periods. So if you can advance your moving in date or are looking for a longer term tenancy, you can try to negotiate a better deal.

Utilities

Be practical about utility bills including heating, water, TV license, internet access and what utility bills are included in the asking rental. You may have your heart set on that charming Victorian conversion, but the heating costs will be significantly higher for period properties as compared to a new build. It’s also legally incumbent for the agent to show you the EPC Certificate of the energy efficiency of the property. The better the EPC rating, the lower your energy bills are likely to be. Check the pre-paid meter to ensure you don’t have any outstanding payments from the previous tenant.

Furniture and storage

An inventory document lists out what furniture or essential white goods are included in the rental -you can take photos to document the condition you’ve received them in. Be practical about storage and wardrobe space to accommodate your existing belongings and furniture.

Location, location, location

Renting in Kensington

Feel free to explore the local area, take a stroll down the high street or visit the local pub. Whether you’re looking for a family friendly neighbourhood like leafy Hampstead or Highgate or a multitude of dining and nightlife options like those in fashionable Kensington or Knightsbridge, it’s important you get the feel of the lifestyle associated with the property. It’s worth asking questions about school catchments, the nearest transport station, the profile of your neighbours, allocated parking space and the nearest convenience store.

Once you have decided on a place it’s also important to put forward a reasonable offer quickly as there are probably other prospective tenants interested and it would be a shame to lose out on a property you really like because you’ve been procrastinating.

Finally, when considering which letting agent to use, select one who is a member of ARLA Propertymark (Association of Residential Letting Agents) who are an industry-recognised body in the UK.

If you looking for a property to rent in London, check our listings which are updated daily or if you need inspiration on where to live, take a look at our
area guides, we are sure you will find a locale that hits the spot.

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About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 19 prominently located branches and 8 international offices.

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