Questions to ask when viewing a rental property

🕑 7 minute read

Finding a home to rent is a big deal. There’s a lot to think about to make sure you’re making the right choice – once you sign on the dotted line, you’ll have to stay there for your minimum agreed term on your contract.

Don’t be afraid of asking lots of questions when you are viewing a rental property – but where to start? Find out some of the key questions to ask at your next viewing. 

Responsibilities of the tenant and landlord

When moving into a rental property, it’s important to know who is responsible for what.

For example, are you expected to maintain communal shared areas, like a shared garden? Or will the landlord sort that?

If something goes wrong with the property, you’ll need to know what the landlord is responsible for, and what you’ll need to take care of.

You’ll also need to know which bills, if any, are included in the cost of the rent. If your rent doesn’t include bills, be sure to ask whether you’ll be able to switch gas, electric or water providers. Switching providers could make your bills cheaper, so it’s well worth knowing.

Key questions:

  • Who maintains communal areas?
  • Who can use communal areas?
  • Are bills included with the rent cost?
  • Am I able to switch utility supplier?

What are the neighbours like?

While good neighbours can make your home life a joy, bad ones can make it difficult.

You might find that your neighbours’ lifestyles don’t fit in with yours. For example, if you work shifts or late nights, living on a noisy street might be an issue. Or if you’re a young family, you may not love living next to wild partying students.

When you’re viewing a property, you won’t get to see what it’s like to live there 24-hours a day, so make sure you ask the current tenants about this, if possible.

Try to visit at different times of the day to get a better feel for the area, and to understand if noise levels change in the daytime and evening.

Key questions:

  • What is the demographic of the area like?
  • Can the street or building be noisy?
  • Are there any pubs or live music venues nearby that are open late?
  • Who lives next door and what do they do?

What are the local amenities and transport links?

For commuting to work or going out at the weekend, it’s important to know how accessible the area is.

You’ll want to know where the nearest bus stop, train station or taxi rank is. You’ll also need to know how often public transport runs, and if there’s space to park. Parking spots can be charged separately to the property, and purchased through the council, so be sure to ask about this.

You’ll also want to think about what you can’t live without, like a supermarket, local shop, hairdressers, takeaway, restaurant or pub.

You can do a lot of that kind of research online, before you view the property, but asking someone who knows the area will give you a real picture of what living there may be like.

Key questions:

  • Is there a parking spot included?
  • Is there on-street parking if not?
  • Where are the local bus stops and train stations?
  • How much does it cost in a taxi to get to and from the town centre?

Can I redecorate or have a pet?

You may want to put your own stamp on the flat or house that you’re renting.

Some landlords might let you decorate – but there are often limits on the scale of changes you can make. Ask about this when viewing the property – and make sure the décor suits you, if you won’t be able to change it.

Got a pet you want to move with you? Most listings will say whether pets are allowed, but ask, if it’s not. Some landlords are willing to negotiate – for example, if you’re willing to cover the cost of any damage your pet might cause, you might be able to bring your furry friend.

Key questions:

  • Can I paint the walls?
  • Will I be able to hang pictures?
  • Do you allow pets? 

What comes with the property?

Most rental listings will state whether the property is furnished or unfurnished, but this can mean different things – for example, in some cases, an unfurnished flat might still come with a cooker and fridge. Others may not include white goods.

If you’re viewing a property while the current tenant is still there, make sure you check what will be there when they move out (as the landlord’s view of what ‘furnished’ means might be very different to yours) and always get a list of what’s included before signing on the dotted line.

This can be helpful for budgeting – if you need to buy a sofa and a dining table, you might need to save up for longer before moving in.

Key questions:

  • Is the property furnished or unfurnished?
  • What furniture items will I need to provide myself?
  • Does the property include white goods?

What is the heating and water like?

There’s nothing worse than moving into your new place and finding the heating takes hours to heat up, or the shower can only manage a dribble of lukewarm water.

Always make sure you ask about the heating – is it instant or do you have to rely on storage heaters? How old is the boiler and what’s the water pressure like?

Turn on the shower while you’re looking around to see what the water pressure’s like and how quickly the water heats up.

Key questions:

  • How old is the boiler?
  • When was the boiler last checked?
  • Can I see proof of the boiler’s performance?
  • What is the water pressure like?
  • Is the heating instant?

How long is the lease and what’s the deposit?

Most leases have a time limit on them to protect the landlord and the tenant. This might be short-term, like six months, over a matter of years, or be open-ended with a minimum notice period for both parties.

If you’re looking for a short-term solution, you don’t want to get locked into a long-term lease, and if you want somewhere more permanent, you don’t want to be moving again in a few months’ time, so make sure you ask how long the lease is for before you sign it.

You’ll also want to ask on whether the rent is fixed and agree some terms on this, so you’re clear on what you’ll be paying. You’ll probably need to pay a deposit too, so check how much this is, what it covers, and how and when you’ll get it back when you do move on. Asking questions before you rent could save you lots of hassle in the future.

Find and apply for the right mortgage with a little help from us. Whether you want to take that first step or plan your next move, your search starts here.

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