Our Top 4 Tips For First Time Renters in London
When you look for a property to rent it is not always easy, especially when you’re not familiar with the process. Whilst some of the steps in order to rent a property can seem overwhelming at first, it is a lot easier when you know how. Don't worry- almost everyone was once a first time renter & it is all a process! In our short guide below we will set out some useful information and handy tips for a smooth tenancy progression especially if you are a first time renter.
1. Details matter, regardless of how big or small they seem.
When you first call to request a viewing, it is not uncommon for agents to ask you a series of questions relating to your property search. For example, you may be asked questions such as:
- What would you say is your earliest and latest move in date?
- What length of tenancy do you require?
- Who will you be moving in with? Will you be bringing any pets?
- Are you and your partner currently working full time, or are you studying? If you are studying, do you have a UK based guarantor who is a property owner, or are you able to pay 6 months rent instalments?
- What is your maximum budget per month, for the ideal property?
- Do you require a furnished property, or do you have your own furniture?
- What are your deal breakers? I.e. must have a bath, must not have carpet.
Now, being asked this level of detail before you have even stepped foot into a property, can seem daunting. However, this does have some logic, we promise! As an agent we gather all of the information we possibly can to ensure this property matches your criteria (but also in case we have something better suited to your search). As an applicant, it is important that you offer up as much information as possible. At base, we go through a thorough but simple registration process for each applicant. This ensures that we are able to advise you accurately depending on your requirements. For example, we take the view that we would rather spend 2 minutes qualifying you on the phone rather than wasting 2 hours out of your day, to show you a property that does not match your move in date, budget and does not accept pets. We see it as our job to take the stress away from finding a property that matches your vision.
By now you would have viewed a property which perfectly fits your requirements and you (and your flat mates) want to take it. In order to begin the process of securing the property, you’ll be required to make an offer. Your offer should consist of as much information as possible again, as this will be presented to the landlord. We would recommend including details such as:
- Your proposed move in date
- Your rental offer (price per month)
- Further details of who you will be moving in with (landlords often appreciate a short bio) & salaries per annum. OR, if you are students, state whether you will be paying 6 months’ rent instalments of providing a guarantor.
- Tenancy length i.e. 12 months, 24 months
- Any requests you may have
The last point in particular is the most important and will help to avoid any misunderstandings about what is on offer at the property. Generally speaking a property is always taken as it is seen on the viewing (condition wise) unless the agent says otherwise. A common issue is that tenants will assume something will be done/changed/replaced, but don't actually ask for it. It is important to understand that if you see something you want changing, ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. More often than not we can find a happy medium between the tenant and the landlord, meaning we can get the tenancy off to an awesome start!
Once you have agreed an offer with the landlord and paid the holding deposit, you will be set up for referencing (almost always on an online platform). This is mostly a straightforward process given that all of the details you have provided in the referencing report are correct (i.e. salary per annum & current landlord reference). Agents will generally know the qualifying criteria in order for you to pass, so they will be able to disclose this if asked.
It is worth noting that referencing will require a credit check, employment reference and a current landlord reference. These checks are undertaken in order to ensure that you will make a tenant fit to inhabit the property you are applying for. If for any reason you feel that anything may come up in referencing that could jeopardise your application, it is always useful and welcomed to notify your agent as soon as possible. You will be able to have a talk with them to see how this could affect you. This could be anything from having a bad relationship with your previous landlord, missing a rent payment or having acquired a CCJ over the years. The more you communicate with your agent, the easier it will be to manage the process should any issues arise.
At base we like to encourage our applicants to be honest and talk to us so that we can work through it together. More often than not we manage to find a solution where everyone is happy. Once you have passed referencing, the report is sent to the landlord for their sign off and confirmation to issue the tenancy paperwork for signing.
4. Paper work
Paper work is the most important part, as this will bind you legally into an agreement. As such, it is important that you set some time aside to properly read through your tenancy documents and make notes of anything you wish to gain further understanding on. Tenancy documents are legally binding, and as such, can entail confusing terminology. Whilst we are always happy to answer any queries, we reccomend seeking additional independent advice on a contract. This stops any advice being given from an interested party and remains unbiased. This doesn’t have to be money with a solicitor- it could be a family member/friend who is a landlord/agent or experienced tenant.
At base, we use an online platform called DocuSign to issue all tenancy documents for digital signing. You can then open and close the document for your perusal multiple times before signing. Some agencies do still operate on a basis where you will sign the contract the day of your move in, so it is worth trying to obtain a copy of the agreement prior to you having to sign on the move in day.