It's important to have a checklist of things to look for if this is the first time you have looked for your own accommodation. Nowadays you can check out properties online, see galleries and use Google street view to check out the area. Even better, if you know anyone already renting, ask them for advice about the best areas to look in, the best landlords to rent from and for any recommendations they might have.
This is a short guide we have created to help you in the process.
Does the property look clean and well-kept?
Current tenants are not always the tidiest, so you may have to look beyond the mess to the more important things. Is the property in good condition? Has it been redecorated? Is it dry and warm? What condition are the carpets in? These are the basic questions you should be thinking about when viewing a house. You want to be sure that you will be comfortable living there for the year or so you will be there.
Check out the furniture and fittings. Which are provided by the landlord and what belongs to the existing tenants? Sometimes it pays to ask for something as part of your initial negotiations. Ask about things like matresses. It seems obvious to say, but if things look well-kept and well looked after, you are going to be much more reassured than if they are not. Check there are enough sockets in the bedrooms and they are safe, working and modern.
Likewise, it is worth checking out bathroom and shower fittings for signs of leaks and bad seals. You will want these seen to before you move in.
Last and by no means least, check the condition of the outside. Are there missing slates, cracks in the walls, broken or loose guttering, or are there any cracked windows.
Is the property secure?
It's important you should feel safe in your house, so check for simple things like the quality of lighting, the standard of locks on doors (both room locks and external ones) and on the windows.
Does it have enough facilities?
Check if there are enough of toilets, bathrooms and showers. Turn on the shower to check there is sufficient water pressure and to make sure it is hot enough to enjoy.
How is it heated and what is the boiler like?
Everyone wants to keep warm, and they want to do so at a reasonable cost. So first check the general warmth of the property (sometimes difficult in the middle of summer), then check that the heating is adequate for the rooms or the house. It's a simple question to ask the current occupants what they expect to spend on heating and lighting during the year.While we can't all be boiler experts, do a little research and check the boiler rating to make sure it is adequate for the job in hand.
Does it have the right refrigerator?
The refrigerator can end up being one of the greatest sources of argument in a house. As you will want to keep your food in good condition, you need to ensure there is enough space for all the students in the house. Check to make sure the feezer compartment is adequate and keeps things really cold.
Are there facilities for washing your clothes?
Although there are often launderettes in an area, it is increasingly common to see a washing machine provided with a house. As with all the other appliances, check for age and economy if one is installed.
Are the fire and safety certificates up to date?
Fire, safety and hygiene checks should be clearly on display and up to date. Ask to see them if they are not obvious.
Is it likely to be noisy?
Is the property near a main road or does it back on to a railway line. If you like the quiet, you may also want to look at the property in relation to the surrounding ones. Is it likely you will get disturbed by a lot of noise. Look for double glazing and other forms of insulation that keep the noise down regardless of the neighbourhood. It may well be worth while coming back to check at the busiest time of day if you have any reservations.
Is there a garden and how well kept is it?
This may seem a minor thing as not everyone wants a garden, or is prepared to keep it up if one exists.
What happens if things go wrong?
We are all aware that things go wrong from time to time. Check to see if your landlord offers on call maintenance. What are the arrangements if you lost your key? In general, you want to know that you are going to get good support if things go wrong and that you will not be left on your own to cope with any emergencies.