Even the most ambitious and organised renter can get overwhelmed with the rental process. From searching for a rental property, making applications, budgeting, packing, and organising all the logistics of moving - there's a lot to consider when looking for a rental property.
To help ease the pain of moving and finding the right property, we’ve put together our 6 top tips on everything you need to know for a successful house move.
1. Budgets & Finances - Get your finances in order
It’s common for first time renters to overestimate how much they can spend on rent and other necessities. According to most experts you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your salary on rent. This isn’t always possible in expensive cities like London, but you should do your best to keep your housing expenses to 30% or under.
Apart from taking into account upfront costs like the deposit and rent you also need to factor in other ongoing costs such as;
- Utility Bills - gas, electricity and water
- Council tax
- Broadband and TV bills
- Food bills
You could ask the agency, landlord or previous tenant to give you estimates for these bills when you have a look around the property.
A rent calculator can help give you a better idea of what you can and can’t afford. Plug in your monthly gross income and the rent calculator will do the rest.
Once you’ve got your head around how much you could afford to pay, set a budget and try sticking to it. It can be easier said than done. But, it’s vital you don’t commit to rental payments you can’t keep up with.
2. Timings - When do you need to move?
As a rule of thumb, you should start looking for properties one to two months before moving out unless you have a clear deadline. If you look too early, the same property may not be available when you want it and you'd be doing more legwork than necessary.
Also, seasonal changes can make an impact. Rental prices tend to be higher in the summer, but you’ll have more choice of properties available. So, try and get the timing right.
3. Location - Location - Location
Knowing where you’d like to live is essential before you start your search. Depending on your circumstances, different aspects will be more important to you than others. For example, Do you want to be within easy commuting distance from work? If so, what are the transport links like? Do you need to be near schools or colleges? And generally what are the local amenities like?
You may need to be flexible as the cost of renting a house is largely determined by location. Living in a city with great transport links has its perks, but will be more expensive. For example, first time renting in London might be a lot more pricey than expected. That’s why many people compromise and move further out.
Pick an area and research the price of properties - Can you afford it?
You should also make sure you visit the area you’re interested in, get a feel for it, night and day. Make sure you’ll be happy living somewhere before you commit. You might not be buying there, but it will still be your home!
A property report can help you get to know an area better, providing information on everything from crime rates to local schools.
4. Type of Property - What Are You Looking For?
Knowing what you’re looking for will help you narrow your search. Work out what you can and can’t live without. For example, would you rather have more outdoor space and have one less bedroom?
The decisions you make will affect the price you end up paying.
Also, decide if you want a furnished or unfurnished property. There are pros and cons to both, so look at your individual situation to work out what’s right for you.
Make sure you know exactly what’s included. Even if a property is ‘unfurnished’ you may still expect white goods, e.g. fridge, washing machine.
5. Letting Agents or private landlords? Who should you rent through?
Do you want to use a letting agent or a private landlord? Both have their perks.
Letting agent fees were banned in June 2019. You can now only be charged for payments such as the holding deposit, rent and early termination of the tenancy.
6. Documentation - Make sure your paperwork is in order
Once you’ve decided on budget, location, type of property and location - having the right paperwork can not only speed up the time to move in but can also put you ahead of the competition. So make sure you have the right paperwork. Some common requirements include:
- Proof of identity – e.g. passport, driver’s licence
- Proof of employment
- Proof of salary & earnings e.g. recent payslips, usually 3-months’ worth (if self-employed or freelance, you may need to show evidence of tax returns. There may also be a more in-depth vetting process)
- References for renting for the first time – usually from a current or past employer. If you’ve rented before, you might be asked for a previous landlord reference
You may also want to consider creating a RentPassport, which is your instant digital rental profile - covering proof of employment, salary and earnings and references. Which you can share with letting agents and landlords each time you move, and saves you the hassle of providing paperwork each time.
In summary make sure you’ve got to grips with the following before even searching for your next rental property and we’re sure you’ll enjoy a smoother rental process.
- Budgets & Finances
- Property Type
- Letting Agents