If you’re moving out of the family home for the first time, or you’re a student moving out of halls, renting your first home is a major step. This isn’t always necessarily something which occurs at a young age for someone, with more people finding themselves in this situation in their mid to even late twenties, in some cases. If you’re moving due to a new job or partner, it can be all the more hectic and whirlwind a time, full of change; you may be juggling several new things at the same time, so anything that can make the renting process easier should be taken on board. Dealing with a letting agent or landlord can also be quite intimidating, again if you’re new to an area, or simply if you’re a shy person who doesn’t know a lot of the property jargon or terminology.
1: Rent With Someone First
If you can, move in to a property with someone first. They don’t have to be a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a friend. Renting with someone else, provided you want the same basic things and you get along, can be a lot easier. Sure, you might need to consider someone else and compromise on a few things; but knowing you have someone to fall back on can be a huge stress-reliever. Examples of situations when a roommate comes in handy can include having someone to stay in if you’re expecting a serviceman to come over, or if you’re struggling for the rent one month. Knowing you have someone yards away at night can ease your security fears as well.
2: Take Someone With You To The Viewing
If you aren’t moving in with someone, it’s not a huge problem. It can however be daunting when you attend a viewing for a property, whether the property is empty at the time, or not. You might not know what to ask, or merely feel out of sorts when confronted with a landlord who has been doing this for a while. Take someone with you, preferably someone with some knowledge of renting who’ll pick up on things that wouldn’t occur to you. This can be a family member or a friend. Don’t be embarrassed to take a parent; this isn’t a party when you’re 16! In fact your landlord or letting agent might be just as socially-awkward in such circumstances. If English isn’t your first language, it’s a good idea to take someone you trust to explain anything technical to you which might get lost in translation.
3: Endear Yourself
While it might be a tad intimidating speaking to a letting agent or landlord, when they’re dressed in a nice suit, with a phone going off every few minutes, but they are still human. If they’re showing many people or groups around a particularly popular property, then they might all start to blend into one for them and you can get lost in the shuffle. With a landlord who can let out the property at their own discretion, endear yourself to them so they get to know you and feel like they would be giving the property to someone they feel they already know. Ask about what they do if property is a side-investment for them. If they live in the area, ask about what they do for leisure, as it will also educate you about what is nearby. This may be the start of an ongoing relationship, so begin as you mean to go on.
4:Viewing With and Without The Agent/Landlord
There are both pros and cons to viewing a property with an agent or landlord present. An agent or landlord can break the ice with the current occupiers; while they have to promote the property, you’re also well aware that they are leaving it. You’re also wandering around someone’s home, with all their possessions on display, which isn’t something you would normally do. You can make a special request that someone always accompanies you to a viewing. Alternatively, going without a landlord, means that the current tenants can “dish the dirt” on anything the landlord might not want you to know about.
5: How To Make The Process Move Along Quickly
If you’re a student looking for a place to live in quite a densely-populated area, time will be a factor; you don’t want another group or individual also interested in a property, to jump in and make an offer before you. For example, because there are several universities based there, so many job opportunities for all classes and it has a global-appeal, there is a constant stream of people wanting to rent in London; as a result, landlords and agents can be quite ruthless and take their pick. So don’t give them an excuse to move on and accept someone else’s offer by keeping them waiting. Take with you to the viewing, your chequebook or your bank details, student card, written references, payslip and any other official documentation which might come in handy to verify who you are and that you can pay a deposit or first month’s rent (perhaps even ask beforehand, over the phone). Note though, that you should still take some time to look over the contract, or have someone do so on your behalf. Any agent or landlord who tries to coerce you into signing quickly, should be treated with suspicion. If you are a foreign language student or your parents/guardians live abroad, getting a guarantor form signed might take longer; so make alternative plans or ensure that person is close to a fax machine/scanner.
*This article was published in Australian Real Estate Sale