Or is there? See, while it’s easy to spot a flat or house that looks like it could do with a lick of paint, there are lots of other issues to consider when you rent property.
Use this simple guide to assess your potential new home when you look round it.
Do some research before you view: Even though you are only renting, you should use the same tricks buyers do to check out a potential new home. Visit the area at different times of the day, on a weekday and at the weekend. Is the street a shortcut for angry drivers during rush hour? Do local school children gather around the shop on the corner? Is the street the main route home for local clubbers at 2am every morning? These factors don’t matter so much when you rent property, but could affect your quality of life forcing another move in a few months’ time.
Take someone with you to view the property: Never look at a potential home on your own. Because while you’re wondering if you can live with the pink bathroom, your friend will be finding the real flaws. It’s also a sensible security measure, especially if you are meeting a private landlord, rather than someone from the local property shop.
Compare the property to your lifestyle: Got a car? Got a driveway or parking space for it? Where are the nearest shops or other amenities? When you rent property it’s easy to overlook these things, yet they’re just as important as when you actually buy a house. Don’t forget to look into public transport and the extra costs of living there, such as council tax and any residents’ parking charges. And have a think about how much stuff you have and whether it will all fit in your new home. It’s also worth checking if pets are allowed when you rent property.
Is the property in good condition? Even though it’s not your responsibility to repair the fabric of the house, it will be a lot less hassle to ensure it is in good nick before you move in. Once you have signed a lease there is little incentive for the landlord to undertake significant repairs. Use their desire to rent property quickly as a lever to get major projects completed. Check the roof and gutters are sound, and look at the doors and drains carefully. What kind of condition is the garden in – and whose responsibility is it to keep it well maintained?
Can you decorate? Some landlords want to keep control over their interior, some are happy for you to slap paint anywhere you want. Check before you agree to rent property.
What horrors await? Keep an eye out for some terrors inside the property. Are there mouse traps or droppings? Check for signs of damp in every room, including flaking paint and loose wallpaper.
Check the building is safe: There should be at least one working smoke detector in the property; many owners provide fire extinguishers or blankets. The landlord must get a gas safety inspection by a CORGI registered engineer once a year. Does the electrical wiring look in good condition – or at the very least do switches it look like they have been installed within the last few decades?
Can you have a nice bath? Bathrooms are often problem areas when you rent property. So check all taps work OK and you can get hot water on demand. It’s also worth road testing the toilet and checking the sinks and baths aren’t damaged or cracked.