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Questions to ask when renting

by | Jan 23, 2023

In order to make an informed selection when looking for a rental property, it’s crucial to ask the correct questions. The details you discover during the renting process, such as questions regarding the lease agreement or enquiries about the neighbourhood, can have a significant impact on your whole experience.

We’ll provide you a thorough overview of the ideal inquiries to make when looking at rental properties in this article so you don’t make mistakes like falling into rent arrears. To make sure you get the ideal rental for you, we’ll cover all the essential topics, from inquiries about the landlord and the home itself to crucial information regarding utilities and parking.

What are the most important questions to ask when renting?

Below, the most important questions are listed so you can make a note of some of your most important ones before visiting a property to rent.

What is the amount of deposit that must be paid?

Under legislation set out by the government you can find here about deposits, landlords must charge no more than six months of rent to tenants. If they do then they could face a fine and a tenant can sue their landlord for that.

Deposits must be asked for in advance of the move in date of the tenant, be made clear what the amount is on the tenancy agreement, how the tenancy deposit will be stored and cannot be used for other payment.

A deposit being collected after a tenant asked questions

Under what tenancy deposit scheme is the deposit protected?

There are three legitimate security deposit schemes available in the UK. As a result, if a landlord wishes to collect a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). they have to use one of the three.

The tenancy deposit protection schemes that are involved in protecting tenant’s deposits include the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) which you can see here, the Deposit Protection Service and MyDeposits.

In the tenancy agreement template, the landlord should state what scheme the deposit is protected under.

With the right protection, a landlord nor a tenant has to worry about having to unfairly have the deposit taken or withheld because all movement of the deposit must be approved by the scheme based on evidence submitted. 

What bills are covered as part of the rent?

Asking what bills are covered when paying rent is vital for a tenant moving into a property as it can help you understand the total cost of living in a rental property and plan your budget for other things. 

Some landlords include utility bills (water, gas, electricity, and internet) in the monthly rent, while others require tenants to pay these bills separately so this is important to understand beforehand. 

By understanding which bills are covered, you can avoid unexpected expenses and make sure you have a clear understanding of what you’re paying for and also whether the new cost is still within your budget. 

If you don’t do this, you can prevent misunderstandings or disagreements with the landlord about which bills are the tenant’s responsibility and you can form the right relationship with the landlord from the beginning.

Who is responsible for the furniture?

Determining who is responsible for furniture when renting furnished property can be complicated because it depends on the terms of the lease agreement. Some leases specify and some are silent on the matter.

Most of the time, a landlord will specify whether they will provide some furniture as part of the rental, while in other cases, the tenant will be held responsible for furnishing the entire property.

The reason for landlords wanting to provide an unfurnished property is because it can be a source of disagreement, as landlords may want the furniture to be returned in the same condition.

As well as this, an unfurnished property will often attract more long term tenants but at a lower rent so whether a landlord chooses to furnish or not is up to them and a tenant should understand the price reflects this.

Who is in charge of the management of the property?

As a tenant, it is important to ask questions about who is in charge of the property because it can help you understand the chain of command in case of any issues or maintenance requests that need to be addressed. Knowing who to contact and how to reach them can help you resolve problems quickly and effectively. Additionally, it is important to understand if the landlord or a property management company is responsible for maintenance and repairs, as this can impact the response time for any requests and who you need to contact in case of an emergency.

Moreover, having a clear understanding of who is in charge can also help you establish a good relationship with the right person, and provide peace of mind in knowing that you have a reliable point of contact for any questions or concerns that may arise during your tenancy.

In summary, asking questions about who is in charge of the property can help you understand the process for addressing any issues, establish a good relationship, and ensure a smooth tenancy experience.

Property management as an answer to a question from a tenant

Does the property come equipped with smoke detectors?

Smoke detectors are a valuable safety feature to have even if they are not required based on your tenancy agreement and the requirements of your build.

In certain HMO properties, having a HMO is a mandatory feature and there has to be some way of including one in the rental property somewhere.

However, other properties are simple residential properties and you can not sue a landlord for not having one as they aren’t mandatory. Hence, it is important you ask this question if you’d like one.

A smoke alarm can provide an early warning of a potential fire, giving you and your family time to evacuate a property. For the small installation cost, it is well worth it as it buys you precious time to evacuate.

Bringing this up with the landlord could be a good idea because they may choose to install one for you if you request it. A landlord would have the incentive of reducing property damage which could save them money too.

Who is your landlord?

It is in fact mandatory for a landlord to inform a tenant whenever there is a change in the ownership of a property. Even if the property is being managed by someone else such as in the case of rent to rent.

This is known as a section 3, a notice given when there is a change of landlord and this landlord or someone working on behalf of them should issue a tenant with a how to rent guide at the start of their tenancy.

Not only is this just a requirement by law but it can be useful for a tenant to know so they are informed on who to contact in case of an emergency or maintenance request.

It could be that a tenant should call a landlord for a big issue like they think they have been overcharged for rent but they should call a property manager or letting agent for any small maintenance requests.

This should all be communicated to a tenant in their tenancy agreement but can also be updated verbally if there are any changes over time. As you ask a landlord these questions, you may be able to work out some other things about the property too such as if there are any specific policies or rules or restrictions on subletting.

What kind of heating does the property have?

Knowing if the heating is efficient or if the heating is modern with a modern boiler and radiator system is crucial to state getting an understanding of what your heating bill is likely to be like.

In this conversation, you should also ask to see a copy of the EPC certificate if you haven’t seen one already because this gives a good indication of how the property you’re viewing is likely to perform in the long term.

In addition, if you discover that a property has a particularly low EPC rating, for example it is an “F”, you will have to consider that the landlord will have to do considerable repairs in the next few years to the property.

This could disrupt you quite a bit if you’re looking to rent in the long term and perhaps start a family.

This is due to new EPC regulations that are set to come out that state all properties in the Uk must have an EPC rating of at least a C in order to remain lettable to the public.

Heating being fixed after the tenant asked a question

Does the home have a strong or weak internet connection?

A good internet connection in the home you will be renting out is important because it enables fast and reliable access to information. Vital for communication, entertainment, and even working from home. 

A fast connection allows for seamless video conferencing for example which is vital if you are working a job, studying from home or using the internet a lot like most modern households.

It is also worth asking around if there are any areas of the house that are known for having a poor reception and double check yourself around the house to test things out for yourself.

For instance, if you find an area of a property that has a weak connection that you want to turn into an office space as you start to live in a property, this can become a big problem.

Does the property allow pets?

A landlord may not allow pets in a property for various reasons, some related to business but some could be personal and a landlord is completely within their right to do so. 

For example, if a landlord wants to live in their home at some point in the future it could be a personal  choice to keep their space pet free, clean and make sure there are no allergies or smells that carry over.

Nonetheless, if a tenant needs a service animal, this should be considered under reasonable adjustment by the landlord where if they refuse a tenant and give the reason being the tenant is blind, this is seen as discrimination.

The rules around this are similar to how landlords cannot refuse DSS tenants because of discrimination, in cases like this a landlord can still refuse but they cannot make it obvious they are turning down a tenant for this reason.

Instead, they will likely give an explanation that is vaguer or has no explanation at all to avoid any legal trouble.

What is the council tax like?

Council tax in the UK seen here, varies depending on the value of the property and the local council tax band assigned to it. This rate is predetermined by the local government and amended usually every few years.

It is important to find out what the council tax is for yourself as you could be subject to exemptions if you fit a certain status as a tenant such as if you’re elderly, disabled or a student.

Additionally, if you are sharing a property with other tenants, it is important to clarify who is responsible for paying the council tax in a joint tenancy or shared accommodation.

How much storage does the property have?

To determine if a property has the right amount of storage, you should consider your personal storage needs for the life you want to live and the size of the storage in the property.

Asking an estate agent or landlord about options to use wall space, install shelves and even floating cabinets could all be potential ways to add space you can discuss before you move in.

If you don’t have the right amount of storage you need and adding in storage isn’t an option, then you could also rent a storage unit as an option but this would be an additional rental payment.

Storage used after a tenant didn’t have enough storage when renting

What are the rules around redecorating the property?

A landlord may or may not allow redecoration in a property and if they do, it will be to varying degrees. For example, some landlords will allow you to paint the walls and others will allow you to redo the floors if you want.

Typically, a landlord will only choose a tenant who seems as if they will obey the rental rules of the house so don’t infer you need to do any redecorating when you ask the question.

As a result, they will likely do an in depth tenant referencing process which will involve looking at a tenant’s credit score and also their previous landlord references.

What are the safety documents like?

There are some mandatory documents that must be involved in a property and they all relate to the safety of tenants and a tenant’s rights to maintain a safe and liveable home. 

If a landlord is looking to rent out a property, you should be able to ask for any of these documents to see what the state of the property is as a tenant and the landlord must produce them within 30 days.

EPC certificates

EPC certificates are useful to tell what the energy efficiency is of a building and they will give an indication of how modern the renovation or original building of the property is.

Older builds typically will not have a good EPC rating as modern reconstruction is required in the form of solar panels, insulation, double or triple glazed windows in order to get to the highest scores.

EICR checks

EICR checks stand for Electrical Installation Condition Reports and they are reports carried out to assess the overall condition of the electricity in a property.

Gas safety certificates

Gas safety checks are needed to test things like boilers, piping and cookers to check if the gas within them is expelling correctly and also if there are any leaks the tenant hasn’t picked up. 

These need to be conducted every year so spying attention to this should be quite important.

Is there good transport in the local area?

In the local area, sometimes there has to be transport links in the area in order for there to be a lot of interest in a property. This is because tenants and people in general love being able to commute freely.

As a result, it is vital that a renter learns to ask the question of whether they can get around. Being able to plan alternative transport routes such as getting a car or bike can therefore be done in advance.

Transport nearby a house a tenant is renting

In conclusion

To wrap things up, there are certainly a decent amount of questions a tenant should learn to ask a landlord and the more that is asked the more a potential tenant can learn about a property.

There are primarily some very important questions that relate to the tenancy agreement such as who is responsible for furniture but there are some detailed and interesting questions you may not have thought of too.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.