The search for your first rental home should be an exciting adventure but can also prove to be stressful. It is all too easy to become intimidated by the process or to lose the perfect property because you aren’t adequately prepared.
If you are looking to rent in Wimbledon, you will have an impressive array of potential homes to choose from. There is something to suit all tastes.
Here are our rental tips for first time renters to help you secure the right property for you.
Determine your budget
You should only consider properties which you can comfortably afford. Many landlords and letting agents will require your monthly earnings to be two and a half times the rent. If you have insufficient earnings to support the rent, you may need a guarantor.
Remember that you will have to pay at least one month’s rent in advance together with the security deposit. There is little point trying to rent a home until you have saved enough to cover the costs you will incur in advance of moving in as you will inevitably fall at the first hurdle.
Once you have moved in, you will have on-going costs in addition to your rent. This includes council tax, utility bills, broadband and phone bills. Create a budget of your monthly income and outgoings, remembering to include money to spend on food, clothes, leisure activities and unexpected costs, so you can see what you can afford to spend on rent payments.
Be ready for the referencing process
Your prospective landlord or letting agent will assess your suitability for renting the property. They will request references from your employer and possibly also personal references. You will have to provide your bank details, plus the details of your employment and salary. As a new renter, you may also require a guarantor.
You will be asked to provide proof that you have the right to live in the UK so make sure you have your passport and other relevant documents to hand. More information on which documents are acceptable in a Right to Rent check can be found here.
Rather than rushing to assemble this information when asked for it, get everything together before searching for your home. You will give a better impression if you appear organised and well-informed.
Starting your search
Decide on your search criteria. Do you need a parking space, or should your home be close to a bus stop or train station? How many bedrooms do you need, is access to a garden important to you, and would a furnished or unfurnished property best suit your needs?
Use portal websites to find rental property in your search area. Register your search criteria with local estate and letting agents who can keep you updated as new properties come onto their books.
Due to the fast pace of the rental market in Wimbledon, it is advisable to have all decision makers attending the viewing so you can decide quickly and not miss out.
When you visit properties, think carefully about their potential benefits and shortcomings, and ask questions. Here some important questions to ask:
- How much is the monthly rent?
- What is included in the rent?
- What additional bills will I be responsible for and how much are they likely to be?
- What is the deposit and where will it be protected?
- What fees must be paid to set up the tenancy?
- Are there fees if you renew the tenancy in the future?
- How long is the contract?
- What notice period is required?
- Who should be contacted in the case of an emergency?
- What insurance does the landlord have and what do I need to arrange?
Securing a property
When you apply for the rental property you have chosen the landlord or letting agent will conduct a full reference and credit check and will probably require a holding deposit.
Once the reference checks are complete you will be sent a tenancy agreement, read this carefully and seek advice before you sign it, particularly if you have concerns or if there are any clauses that you do not understand.
When you have secured the property, you will be asked to pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit (usually five weeks rent). All deposits taken by landlords and letting agents must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Before you move in, agree an inventory with your landlord and protect yourself by taking photos, as these will help you if there is ever a dispute about the condition of the property when you moved in. Keep a copy of the inventory.
Smoke alarms are required on all floors of your home and carbon monoxide detectors in any room where solid fuels are burnt. As part of your check-in process, the letting agent or landlord should test that these are working on the first day of the tenancy.
Take meter readings as soon as you move in and notify the utilities companies. Make sure you also have contents insurance. The landlord is required to insure the building and their own contents, but you need to cover your own belongings.
Get the contact details for the landlord or managing agent and make sure you know how to report issues. Check that you have all the documents your landlord is required to provide, these are:
- Gas Safety Certificate
- Deposit Protection Certificate
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Electrical Safety certificate
- How to Rent Guide
During your tenancy
Your responsibilities as a tenant
Your primary responsibility will be to pay the rent on time. You should also keep the property clean and take good care of the fixtures, fittings and appliances. Never attempt any repairs or decorating without contacting your landlord or agent for permission and guidance.
Always report any issues no matter how minor, as small problems could develop into bigger ones. Failure to mention any problems from the outset could threaten your deposit. Be considerate to your neighbours and build a good relationship with your landlord.
Your landlord’s responsibility to you
Your landlord or agent has the following responsibilities to you:
- To maintain the structure and exterior of the property
- To ensure the building
- To install smoke alarms on every floor
- To fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms using solid fuels
- To address problems related to the water, electricity and gas supply
- To maintain appliances and furniture which belongs to them
- Carry out most repairs at the property
- Arrange an annual gas safety check
- Give a minimum of 24-hours-notice of visits to perform repairs or maintenance
- Get a licence for the property, if one is required.
There’s a lot to think about when you are searching for your first rental property. However, if you plan ahead, budget wisely, think carefully about what you really want and ask the right questions, you will find the perfect home.
If you’re looking for a property to rent in Wimbledon or the surrounding areas, get in touch today.