Advice to tenants
Renting is a perfect way of giving yourself options: you might ultimately be looking to buy, wanting to experience an area before you fully commit or just needing flexible living options.
The industry has come a long way in the last 15 years in terms of legislation and best practice that protect you while you enjoy your tenancy. It is a large and competitive industry, so prepare ahead of time to give yourself the best chance of finding your perfect home, with the below advice for tenants.
Choosing a letting agent
Ask your friends and colleagues for their experiences and recommendations. Find out how the estate agency's letting process works, how long they have been established and the lettings properties they have listed. Ideally meet them face to face or spend some time talking. As with all good working relationships, it is about establishing trust and a connection from the outset. Any good letting agent will be accredited to ARLA and work in accordance with their guidelines.
Understand the market
Competition is tough and frequently there is an imbalance between the number of people looking and the number of properties available. A good agent will develop into your trusted advisor and help you react in time. Seasonal change greatly impacts the supply of property levels - your agent will guide you through this once they have a good understanding of what you are looking for, how much you wish to spend and when you need to move.
Other than rental payments and a six-week deposit, it is usual for some additional administrative costs to be charged, such as credit reference checks, a tenancy agreement charge and contribution towards an inventory check. Remember that London lettings agents quote rent weekly and calculate as monthly (£x per week x 52 weeks / 12 = monthly rental).
Choosing a property
For peace of mind check who is managing the property and ensure that a professional is appointed to do so. Raise any requests at the point of making an offer so that everything is agreed at the beginning. Be prepared to compromise - you may not get everything on your wish list. Taking time and seeking guidance in advance of moving in is worthwhile and sets the tone for a smooth tenancy going forward.