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More and more of us are renting rather than buying. With rising house prices, first-time buyers are renting for longer in order to afford a property, but the rental market can also be challenging at times. As with most things, it’s much easier once you’re prepared, so here is our guide to surviving the rental market.
Finding the property - Renting is temporary, so you don’t need to think too far into the future. You can find a property that suits your current lifestyle. To find a good rental property, make a list of all the things you require for your lifestyle and search for a property that suits.
Be sure to prioritise – it’s unlikely you’ll find the ideal property, so think about what is a must and what you can compromise on.
What to Look For? - Your reason for renting will impact on what you’re looking for. If it’s a mid-week rental to save a commute, somewhere smaller should suit you. If it’s your first home with a partner, think about the amount of space you are going to need, rather than the space you may want.
Finding someone to share with before finding a property is another option. A friend or colleague is a good starting point, although living with someone is very different and can be challenging. Do you need a parking space? Will you be able to park on the side of the road? If you’re renting a room in a city centre, investigate a parking permit.
Furnished or unfurnished? Unfurnished is popular with renters as your own furniture makes the property feel like your own home. If you’re renting before buying, purchasing furniture can save you needing to purchase everything when you buy. If you’re taking a furnished property it makes things easier when it comes to moving in and out. Part-furnished is also an option. Any furniture that is provided is subject to being checked on an inventory. You will be responsible for the condition of it when you move out.
Is there somewhere to wash and dry your clothes? If it’s a small flat, drying your clothes can be tricky without a tumble dryer. If the property doesn’t have a washer dryer, you may need to buy one, or seek out the nearest laundrette. What is the bathroom like? Can you cope with a bath with a shower over it? Likewise, can you cope without a bath?
Outside space when renting can mean added costs and time. If you’re responsible for maintaining the garden, you may need to cut the grass and weed the beds – is that something you want to do?
Securing the property - The rental market moves extremely fast. You need to be proactive in your search.
Set aside time when you’re available for viewings and ask the lettings agent to take you to a few properties during each appointment, so you can compare them easily. When you find a suitable property, be prepared to move quickly and make an offer on the day or the following day.
Prepare in advance for the next few steps. Ensure you have funds for your deposit and references are ready. Informing the lettings agent that you have these available will put you in a strong position to secure the property.
Your Offer - Once we have found your suitable property, you will be in a position to make an offer to the Landlord for consideration. Please note that any offer you make would be subject to you fulfilling our reference criteria.
As soon as your offer has been accepted by the Landlord, we will apply for references and draw up the relevant documentation which will form the basis of the agreement between you and the Landlord. To assist us in collating the necessary references, it would be advantageous for you to warn any referees in advance that references are required
Fees - It’s now a legal requirement that all lettings agents display their fees on their websites and in their offices.
We charge an application fee of £150 per applicant which is non-refundable if a tenancy is refused on the grounds of references or if the tenant withdraws from taking the property.
In order to secure a property we take a holding charge of ½ a month’s rent or £500 (whichever is greater). This forms part of your total move in funds with the balance collected after you complete referencing. A renewal fee of £150 is charged to the tenant for renewal of all fixed term tenancies.
Deposits - A rental deposit is an assurance for the landlord in case of any missed or delayed rent or damage to their property.
They are typically between four to eight weeks of rent, but check this in advance so you can save the money. It is a legal requirement that your deposit is put into a deposit protection scheme (we use the Deposit Protection Service), so always check this before signing any contracts.
When it comes to getting your deposit back, it’s a case of looking after the property while you’re a tenant and reporting any problems. Check the inventory when you first move in and add any existing damage that you notice, making sure it is confirmed by the landlord. Also, take photos when you first move in and when you leave, so you have proof of any previous damage to avoid being penalised.
If the property is furnished, remember to take photographs of what is present when you first move in and when you leave. All of this should be recorded on the inventory, so check everything is present and correct.
Moving In - An appointment will be arranged with you to visit our offices to sign the Tenancy Agreement when all references have been received. The Landlord will also be asked to sign their copy of the document. We can also arrange for contracts to be signed digitally.
You will be required to provide the agreed sum of rent and deposit before taking possession of the property. Please note that all monies to be paid on the signing of the agreement prior to the occupation should be paid in cleared funds.
If we have been instructed by the Landlord, a condition report will be prepared of your new home and a convenient appointment will be made with the inventory clerk to carry out a check in report to coincide with your move in day. Failing which a member of staff will help check you in to your new home.
Rent is to be paid monthly in advance commencing on the first day of the tenancy and then on the same day each month thereafter. The preferred method is by bank standing order.
Managing your Tenancy - We will provide you with access to our dedicated Tenant’s portal. All your tenancy documents and receipts will be stored here.
Where Woodland have been appointed as managing agents you will be provided with a handy app where all your tenancy documents and receipts are stored and any maintenance issues can be reported.
Where your Landlord is looking after either Maintenance or full management of the property we will ensure you have their contact details.