Just a Small Town Girl – Learning from Letting Mistakes
For this entry, I am delighted to say we have a guest writer. My colleague Cindy has recently been “enjoying” the delights of finding somewhere to live, her story (although amusing), is all too typical!
Enjoy the read!
My Letting Story by Cindy Campbell
Trying to find a place to rent. You started singing, didn’t you? Or cringing.
For the third time in less than a year, I need to move again. This is because of a combination of nightmare Spare Room roommates (think wild parties at 3am and having your Wi-Fi turned off. At the mains. I mean, who does that?! I was in the middle of an Orange is the New Black binge) and an obsessively clean landlord who won’t allow you to have visitors past 10pm, no sleepovers, and your minutes spent in the shower are scrutinised.
Naturally, I am on the hunt for yet another, hopefully this time more bearable, living situation. I scour Rightmove and Zoopla, my eyes search for the agent’s fees, which, despite it now being legislation that all agents must disclose their lettings fees, not all do. I bite my lips and draw a deep breath when I see some of the listings where the photos show piles of laundry, a layer of dirt and the tenant sat on the toilet in the background. Excellent. Not that it puts me off the property, but it does put me off the agent. After all, if they can’t manage to take a decent photo, how can they manage my tenancy or at least my move in?
Because legislation is so strict with lettings, there is information available everywhere for prospective tenants, and, being the geek that I am, I have read in-depth and have become one of those really irritating potential tenants that agents take around on viewings. I fully advise you to be just as annoying! There is no such thing as being over-prepared.
Rightmove has an excellent check list to look at if you’re like me and want to get organised (renting can come with a few surprises other than finding out your seemingly perfect roommate likes to clean the house in the nude without giving you prior warning; don’t let fees catch you out!) Check out http://www.rightmove.co.uk/resources/property-guides/renting-guide.html for a good overview.
My advice is to use a good agent, even if they are slightly more expensive. They usually are for a reason, but ask around. I’ve been with letting agents who have forgotten that they never did an inventory and wanted to set-up a check-out inspection with me against the non-existent inventory. Definitely check out some testimonials if you can, because if the agent is managing the property on behalf of the landlord, you want to make sure they know what they’re doing.
Tips for Renting
Looking to rent? Here are some top tips to help you avoid some common lettings mistakes:
1.) What do you need to pay the Agent? Work it out first! Has your agent clearly displayed their fees? It is now legislation that they must, but not all agents do. Don’t forget to check for renewal fees at the end of your tenancy and budget this in.
2.) Calculate your costs. Budget for everything down to your shopping list and medication; this will give you a better idea of what you can afford once you’ve taken care of the lettings fees. The Agent will most likely reference you and they will have criteria for this – ask the Agent what this is before you set your heart on a property so you know if you can properly pay your rent and live your life!
3.) Find out who will be managing the property. Will it be the landlord or the agent you need to turn to if something needs fixing? Some tenants have a preference as to who will manage their property, so do find out
4.) Know your rights as a tenant – Rightmove has a really useful guide which you can find here http://www.rightmove.co.uk/resources/property-guides/renting-guide.html plus the government have a handy guide called How To Rent which your Agent should provide you with.
5.) Will your money be protected? Look for the SAFEagent logo to ensure that your agent is part of a recognised Client Money Protection Scheme. CMP schemes demonstrate that money paid to that Agent is safely dealt with and protected should something go wrong, it also means that the Agent adheres to strict guidelines so you know you are dealing with a professional company. Each Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme has its own terms, ask your agent to find out more about who they are with. For more on SAFEagent, check out their website http://safeagents.co.uk/faq-tenants/