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When you go to rent property in the UK, there are some things you should know beforehand in order to ensure you are getting the best deal possible. You should also ensure that you are legally sound in your contract. Renting is not for the faint of heart, and often times most of us would prefer hospital accommodations. Unfortunately, that is not always possible, which is why we thought it best to give a thorough guideline on what to expect and how to play it smart.
Your Checklist for Renting
The following is just from our experience and the things we think are important to go over beforehand. Everyone's experience is different so make sure you take all of your needs into consideration before you rent a property.
- Is it near where I work?
- If it's not near, is driving/public transport convenient?
- How are the surroundings/neighbourhood?
- Are there supermarkets/shops nearby?
- Are there daycares/schools nearby?
- How much is the rent per month?
- Does rent cover utilities?
- Is there any extra cost outside of rent?
- Is the rental price fair for the area?
- Can I sustainably afford the rent on I salary?
- Is the deposit less than 5 weeks' rent (where annual rent is less than £50,000) or 6 weeks’ rent (where annual rent is more than £50,000)?
- Is the deposit covered in a government-approved scheme?
- Can you afford to pay the deposit and move if you are otherwise in between salaries?
- What is the minimum/maximum duration of stay mentioned in my contract?
- Is there any fee if I break the contract?
- Is there any increase in rent if I stay for more than a certain period of time?
- What are your expectations of what to maintain during my stay?
- What does the landlord have to maintain during my stay?
How can I estimate if I can pay the rent?
When it comes to renting, especially if utilities are not included, a lot of things have to be taken into consideration before you commit yourself to anything. We often think that if we are making x amount of money per month, and rent is considerably less than that, then we should have no problem at all. It, unfortunately, is a little more complex than that. So let's break down what all needs to be understood beforehand:
- What is the cost for utilities?
- How much is the council tax?
- Are there any service charges?
- Will you have to put in a phone line?
- Will you be keeping a TV license?
- Are there any other recurring costs such as broadband/insurance/satellite?
After you've looked at these costs and compiled an estimate, there is another chunk of data you need to keep ready- your day to day costs.
- How much are you spending on cell phone/mobile plans?
- How often are you eating out/cost for food/shopping?
- Any other recurring monthly fees (ex: gym)?
- Any debts that need repaying?
- Any car mortgages/fees/insurance costs?
Remember that you will need to give a lump sum initially as a deposit, so make sure you are taking that into consideration. If you're finding this overwhelming or don't know where to start, check out our article on how to make a budget.
What else should I think about?
Please don't forget to consider and take into account any additional costs stemming from moving, buying furniture or white goods (if not already provided), and agency fees. Letting agents in England and Scotland are not allowed to charge admin fees for things like checking references, or renewing a tenancy, but this is still legal in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Make certain to also take photos/videos of the entire property so that you have no reason to be faced with damage costs, etc when you move out (unless you've actually caused damage). Stick to the inventory given to you so that you can be sure to receive your deposit back in full at the end of your tenancy.
Okay, enough about this. How do I find a place?
Finally we get to the main part: actually hunting for a good place. With all the things mentioned above taken into account, you should now have a rough idea of the location you'd be interested in renting along with the range of how much you'd be willing to pay in rent. It may sometimes be difficult to assess all of these things if you are abroad, so always try and get as much information as you can beforehand and don't be afraid to ask questions.
The primary places to search for rental are sites like Zoopla and Rightmove. If you are not up for renting an entire place, you can also look into SpareRoom. Airbnb occasionally offers long term rentals, but they are not always easily available.
The best way to go about the search is to put in the postal code of the hospital and then search within a comfortable radius. If you know your hospital isn't near a residential area, you may need a wider area, so putting in at least 5 miles is a good starting point. You can then list the results and filter as you please; maybe you require 2 bathrooms or parking area or that there is more of a lawn.
After you've found a few places (always shortlist a couple), contact them and explain your situation. If you're going through a letting agency, you may need to answer a few questions that the landlord may have set up to vet potential clients, such as if you have a stable job, any other mortgages, debts, etc. Take every opportunity to see the property first hand. It's always a good idea to take as much time as possible for this part. Try and imagine yourself living in that space, and if you'd be able to furnish it as you'd like. Make sure you are happy with every nook and cranny and don't be afraid to ask questions or point out concerns.
To sum, if you go to rent in the UK, don't think it's an impossible or daunting task. We hope that this guide will be useful in your pursuit to settle in well to your new job and life in the UK.