Although renting a property can be a great option for those of us who can’t afford to buy yet, it can also come with a whole host of it’s own problems. After landing my first adult job after uni, I moved into my apartment with my boyfriend Danny and, although we’d rented at uni in house shares, this was the first ‘proper’ home we’ve rented. (And my god, the rent reflects that!)
We’re still in the same place, which we’ve been renting for over a year now, and in that time we’ve come across our fair share of things we just had absolutely no idea we’d need to look out for or enquire about when we viewed the property.
Electric or gas?
Not something we thought would affect us and we just took on the chin when we were told the property only had electricity and no gas, but actually it means we have electric heaters rather than proper radiators. We’ve found them to be a bit crap to be honest, the best way I can describe it is you know how we rate a candle off it’s scent ‘throw’? Well the electric heaters we have just don’t have any throw whatsoever. They don’t heat up a room, and you also have to remember to dust off any barely used ones before use otherwise you get the dust stench of death – if you have electric heaters you’ll know exactly the awful stink I mean!
Having electricity only also means we have an electric hob, which I find a bit harder to cook on because you can’t immediately turn down the heat as easily as you can with gas. They are a bit easier to keep clean than gas (although ours is really old so not in the best condition), so swings and roundabouts I suppose.
Check the boiler
Again, not something I ever thought to ask about because it’s quite functional and boring and, tbh, I was a bit more concerned with the look of the property and condition of it when we viewed – as well as being very aware of the time pressures when it comes to actually securing a rental property.
As it turns out, we have a water tank which was set wrong when we first moved in, overheated and kept setting off the fire alarms. It’s very old, there’s pipes sticking out of it which don’t look very safe but we’re assured are, and even when we boost it it won’t fill the bath up fully with hot water. And lets be honest, it’s pointless viewing a property and having a lovely bath sell it to you, if when you move in you can’t actually fill it up with hot water!
Also, as ours is a hot water tank, it’s absolutely huge which means it takes up all of the storage cupboard and leaves little room for all those rarely used bits you need to, well, store.
Find out who manages the building
This one is probably the most important on the list for us, because we’ve had so much trouble with ours. It turns out we have three separate people/companies involved in our tenancy – the landlord, letting agency who act on behalf of the landlord, and the building manager who is completely separate to the other two but who we have to deal with most.
Ours is very difficult to contact, and nothing comes up on google when we search. In hindsight if we’d have asked this info at the viewing, it might have set alarm bells off when the so-called management company are completely faceless online, as well as maybe being able to ask other tenants in the building what they’re like. It’s always worth knowing and doing a little google check before signing anything… as we now know there’s nothing worse than the person who controls your access to things like security cameras and meters being impossible to contact.
Look out for signs of damage from critters
When we viewed the flat it was the first we’d properly viewed (the rest kept getting cancelled when other people took the property before our viewing), so we were really excited and although we did look for obvious signs of damp, water damage, etc, there were some things we didn’t watch out for. This includes damage from pests.
Pretty much straight after moving in, I was having a late night shower and when I got out I spotted a shiny little bug running across the floor. It turned out to be Silverfish, which not only send shivers up my spine when I think about them, but are hard to get rid of and can cause a lot of damage to your possessions. When you look closely in the en-suite, there’s tiny little holes in the grouting where the wall tiles meet the floor tiles, which is where these little buggers had set up camp.
I found a really good Silverfish killer spray on Amazon, which did the trick with persistent application but obviously if you have pets or children then a lot of the products on the market aren’t suitable for use around them.
Where the heaters/radiators are
Not only does radiator placement annoyingly affect where you can put your furniture, it can also cause problems with air flow. None of our heaters are underneath the windows, which an engineer who came round actually told us is the best place for them to be as it helps to move the air around the room properly and stop damp and mould problems. We’ve actually had to move our flat around because having a wall of furniture under the window in our bedroom coupled with heaters that aren’t very good, meant we ended up with disgusting looking walls due to condensation/air flow issues.
Check which furniture is included
This one isn’t really something that affected us – the furniture when we viewed was what came with the flat. Some of it was really awful/scruffy looking, such as the old ikea bookshelf that sagged in the middle, and the silver TV stand and box TV typical of one you’d have in your bedroom in 1995.
Since moving in, we’ve flattened down that furniture and brought a lot of our own, stowed away the ugly TV and even changed the curtains and added balcony furniture. Which means whoever views the property when we’re due to leave will have a massive shock when they actually move in to find a completely different, and much less aesthetically pleasing, apartment that has a lot less furniture! (Obviously if we’re here when they view we’ll give them a heads up, but it’s something I’ll remember to enquire about for future viewings as the current tenant might have give it a little spruce up, and nobody needs to move in to find they have satin green curtains. NOBODY.)
So that’s the advice I wish I’d been given before renting my place, what would yours be? Have you had any nasty surprises you could have avoided if someone had forewarned you to check it when viewing?