8 Things You Should Check Before Renting a Property

property investment

It can be an exciting time when you move to a new home. You might be starting the second year of your university course; or moving to London for a new job. Whilst the commitment is shorter term for renting than it is for buying, there will still be lots of things to sort out. 

In an ideal world, the landlord will always be honest and transparent about their property. They’ll also be easy to get hold of, and quick to sort out any maintenance issues. Sadly, this is not always the case, making it all the more important for a potential tenant to know what they are taking on. Perhaps you are in that situation right now and are uncertain what to do next. This article will discuss eight key things you need to consider. 

1.   The EPC

This stands for Energy Performance Certificate. The government requires that any buyer or tenant is given one of these by the current property owner. A DEA (Domestic Energy Assessor) is required to visit the property and to feed certain data into their software. This will then be used to produce the EPC. Basically, an A rating would mean the property is highly energy efficient, whilst a G would mean it was terrible. In fact, the rating should be E or higher, otherwise it shouldn’t be on the market to be rented. 

It’s therefore key that you have access to this document. If it has an excellent rating, your fuel bills will be lower as well. There are online companies that carry out EPC assessments in different areas. According to Epc London it can be cheaper to deal directly with such companies rather than using estate agents as middlemen. People are often able to book a time slot and make payment online as well. 

2.   The Location

If you’re planning to commit yourself to a flat for at least a year, it’s paramount that you know what the neighborhood is like. Don’t be rushed into renting the first property you see, just because you’re in a hurry. Check the property market and if the price is really cheap for the area, there may be a reason for it. 

Research online to see what the local crime rate is like, and whether there is a high rate of unemployment. Make sure you won’t need to walk alone through a park late at night. If you need transport, check to see whether you are near a bus route or train station. You’ll also need to discover whether the area is noisy, especially at night. 

It’s also wise to check whether there are any local amenities such as grocery stores, restaurants or leisure complexes. 

3.   The Paperwork

You should be in possession of a tenancy agreement. From day one there will be gas, electric and water bills, plus council tax to pay. You therefore need to find out who you have to pay. 

As regards the landlord, make sure you get their contact details, including an emergency contact number. You’ll also need to know what the procedure is should anything need repairing. If the property is to be a shared one, discover whether a HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) license has been obtained. If so, the flat or house should feature fire doors. 

4.   The Financial Aspects

Not only will you need to secure a guarantor for the tenancy agreement, you’ll also have to pay a deposit. Provided the flat remains in its current condition, it should be refunded once you’ve moved out. Don’t forget to ask for details of the deposit protection scheme. 

You’ll need to check your budget before you commit. Make sure you can afford the deposit and all the subsequent rental payments (and utility bills etc.) throughout the rental term. Get all the fees in writing, including those for the letting agents, and check to see whether they include VAT. You need to also check whether there will be fees when moving out, and penalty issues should this occur before the rental term ceases. 

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5.   The Property Exterior

Bring someone with you if you’re not sure about houses or flats. You’ll need to have an eye for leaks or cracked windows and frames. They could mean that the property will be cold or damp. 

If there is an area of garden outside, find out who is responsible to maintain it. 

6.   The Property Interior

You should be given an inspection report when you come to view the property. When you sign the rental agreement there should also be an inventory of everything that is included with the property (e.g. white goods or furniture). It’s essential that the documentation correctly describes the current condition of everything. If something is broken from the start but is not recorded, you may be liable to pay for it when you move out. Check everything works and take photos of anything damaged or marked during your first visit. 

Make sure the windows open and shut okay, and that the heating (including the thermostat) works correctly. Check the floors, carpets and walls for any damage. Try every electric light and socket to be sure that they work. Make sure there’s no issue with the water pressure, checking the toilet, sink, bath and shower. Finally, make sure the white goods are operating correctly.  

7.   The Safety Aspect

Ask to see the gas safety certificate and ask for confirmation that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. 

Check that every lock works. Make sure the windows open easily, especially if they form part of your escape route in the event of a fire. 

8.   Pest Infestations

Cracks and holes in walls can encourage these, as can damp patches. Look for mouse droppings, and signs of cockroaches or bed bugs. 

As you can see, there’s lots of bases to cover. It will be easier if you have someone who can help you during the process. As daunting as it may seem, people rent properties every day. If you make the right choice it may become a place of great fun, and happy memories.

Written by Julie Hanson

Julie is passionate about property – development, investment and portfolio planning. Along with husband Alec, Julie is actively building a property portfolio while helping others to do the same.


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