For many people renting a property is a great alternative to the heavy costs and sometimes huge amounts of pressure that comes with obtaining a mortgage in order to buy a house.
Renting a property can give you time to save for a deposit and provide you with extra flexibility if your circumstances change.
In this article we will take a thorough look at the process of renting a property, including the benefits of renting, how to find your dream home, putting a deposit down and what your rights and responsibilities are as a tenant.
Why rent?Renting your home can be beneficial for many reasons, as not only can it be cheaper than owning your own home but bills can also be far more predictable.
Many people choose to rent as it provides them with less responsibilities and greater financial freedom to do the things they enjoy doing, such as taking holidays, eating out, studying at a University and spending money on their hobbies and interests.
In stark contrast, saving for a deposit on a home can mean that many of these luxuries become unaffordable, at least for a period of time, and in fact many people who decide to save for a deposit have to downsize to a smaller home or even move in with family or friends while they save up.
Additionally, many people are fearful of the commitment involved in buying a property, having to repair things when they break and being fully responsible for the property in almost every aspect.
They might also prefer the 'no-strings' lifestyle that comes with renting property, meaning they are able to move home whenever they want to in a relatively hassle free way.
Finding a propertyProperties available to rent are rarely hard to come by and most people are usually able to find a handful of suitable properties without too much trouble.
Many newspapers will advertise properties and there are various websites which can offer help.
However, for added security and the benefit of real knowledge of an area you should always seek the advice of an experienced estate agent.
The first step to renting a property is finding somewhere that is right for your needs.
Factors such as the size of your family, your mobility, your job, your budget and whether you want any extra perks such as gardens, off street parking or second bathrooms will usually play a crucial part in your decision.
For most people, a key factor in where they choose to rent will be the location of their work and whether or not they drive.
For people without a car, the distance from public transport could very much dictate the suitability of an area for them.
Additionally, if you have children then access to public transport and the distance from a good school can be quite important, as well as the availability of local amenities such as shops and parks.
Once you have narrowed down a location you should begin to think about what kind of property you want to live in.
Firstly, do you wish to live in an apartment or a house and do you wish it to be furnished, part-furnished or totally unfurnished? This will depend on your situation; if this is your first time renting then you will most likely not have much furniture so a furnished property will be ideal, however if you already have lots of furniture then you may desire more of a blank canvas on which to make your own mark.
You will also need to consider how many bathrooms and bedrooms you would like.
If you have a large family or are planning on having children then you might consider additional bedrooms, or perhaps you require extra space for friends and family to stay over when they come and visit you.
Additional bedrooms will usually have an impact on the price of the property and you should also think about the cost of heating the extra space.
Finally, you should think about what additional amenities you require.
For example, is off-road parking or disabled access important for you and is having a garden essential? Often additional extras like this can help you decide between two different properties.
Viewing propertiesOnce you have put together a shortlist of properties which you are interested in the next step is to go and visit them to see what you think.
Seeing a property in the flesh is often the only true way to discover if you could picture yourself living somewhere and it also provides a solid way to discover if there are any problems with the property.
When you do visit a property, it's always a good idea to bring someone along who you trust and perhaps won't be living in the property; an outside opinion can help you to take a more practical look at living somewhere.
When you visit the property you should ask questions about the condition of the property, specifically; is it secure? Are there any problems with mould or damp? Are smoke alarms fitted? Do the gas, water and electric all work sufficiently? You should also ask to see an Energy Performance Certificate which will give you an indication as to the costs of living in the property and by law this must be provided.
A good letting agent will be able to answer any questions you have and will provide you with information about rental costs, deposits, additional costs, tenant responsibilities, and any other important information.
Applying to rent a propertyOnce you have found your dream rental property, you will need to apply to live there by informing the letting agent or private landlord of your intentions.
In order to approve you, a landlord will usually want to confirm that you are of good character and able to keep up with your rental payments.
They may ask for proof of identity, recent bank statements, bank details, confirmation of employment and they may also wish to carry out a credit check on you before they accept your application.
DepositsShould you be successful in your application to rent a property, the next step will usually be to pay a deposit which is required by the landlord.
Commonly, this is one month's rent in advance together with a deposit of one month's rent which will be held by the landlord under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Rights as a tenant All tenants of private rented property have specific rights and responsibilities which they need to uphold.
As a tenant you must take good care of a property, turning off water mains in the winter while you are absent from the property, for example.
You must keep up with your rent payments at all times, even if there is an ongoing dispute, such as one over repairs to the property.
You must also keep up to date with council tax and you must not sublet the property unless it is approved in advance by the landlord.
Finally, you must repair or pay for any damage to the property that is caused by you or your visitors.
Your landlord must also adhere to his or her responsibilities and these include keeping the property in a state of good repair, protecting deposits, respecting the tenants' privacy, upholding fire safety measures and providing you with all the necessary information that you might need over your tenancy agreement.
If you have a dispute with your landlord then you should seek advice from the Housing Ombudsman Service who will be able to help you make a formal complaint.
Moving in The process of moving in to a new house can be a nightmare if you aren't well prepared.
Here are a few tips to help you get everything in order: Begin the process of packing up your belongings as far in advance as possible so that nearer the time you should have only the items you are certain to need in the days around the move left unpackedGet recommendations for a removal company from friends, co-workers and family or hire a van yourself if you are looking to cut costsRedirect your post and inform your employer, banks, doctor, dentist and service providers of your change of addressIf you are thinking about renting property then you should seek the help of an experienced estate agent, particularly one who is knowledgeable about the area you wish to move in to.
Here at Hudson Moody we have a range of properties available in and around the historic city of York.
Call us on 01904 650650 to find out more or alternatively click here to view our properties online.
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