As we set goals for the year ahead, many of us will be re-evaluating our living situation and others will simply be coming to the end of their lease. However, whilst the start of the year is usually a fantastic time to search for luxury condos for sale, the new lockdown restrictions have made house and apartment hunting far more difficult.
To help those who are looking to find a new place to call home whilst lockdown restrictions are imposed, here are some top tips on what to look out for in a rental property, with insights from Dougie Orton-Wade, General Manager at Moorfield Group’s Duet Salford Quays More. ‘Superenting’ scheme:
1. Budget responsibly
It may seem obvious, but budget is one of the most important things to consider when looking for a new place to rent. Whilst everyone’s financial situations and outgoings are different, a good rule to go by is that your rent should cost about one third of your monthly pay.
Once you have established the rough amount you can afford to pay for rent each month, consider how much you need to put to one side for bills.
Dougie Orton-Wade adds: “Also consider what amenities are available alongside your rental property. Access to facilities such as an on-site gym, private workspaces and free vending, locally roasted coffee are all huge perks of modern developments, such as Duet, and we find that these additional amenities can save our residents a considerable amount of money each year.”
2. Make the most of virtual viewings
Over the past year, many prospective tenants have had to rely on virtual viewings to find a new home. Whilst it may seem nerve-wracking to decide on a new home when you haven’t seen it in person, there are lots of ways you can make the most of the information you have access to virtually.
In terms of the property itself, Dougie recommends trying to avoid relying on solely images to assess the property. He explains: “A live virtual viewing is ideal so that you can ask questions to the on-site team, estate agent, or housemates then and there – if they can only offer a pre-recorded video viewing then ask to speak to them on the phone to raise any questions and simply find out a bit more about the property and its location.”
If the new rental property you are considering moving to is in your current city, it is a good idea to use your daily outing to visit its location. Even if you can’t actually go inside the property, getting a clearer reference of where it is situated, beyond a pinpoint on Google maps, is incredibly useful. If you don’t drive, pay special attention to the shops nearby and how close or accessible public transport is.
Dougie adds: “It is also worthwhile to look at any reviews for the development from residents, or if you are renting through an estate agent then reviews for that agency – websites such as HomeViews and Right Move are a good starting point.”
3. Reliable onsite teams and landlords
When it comes to renting, we all know a horror story of an unhelpful landlord and substandard facilities in the home. However, the landscape for renters has dramatically changed in recent years and there are more reliable options available than ever before.
Some apartment complexes provide an onsite team that are available to handle enquiries, emergencies, or simply to take in your post, which really makes all the difference, particularly if you are living alone or renting for the first time. As the nation continues to spend so much time in our homes, it is important that any problems in your property are dealt with as quickly as possible. For instance, if there are roof leaks in your unit, report it to your landlord immediately. This way, a roof repair service will be scheduled.
Dougie shares: “Here at Duet, residents have shared that having a 24-hour onsite team not only makes them feel safer, but helps to build a sense of community both in person and through virtual events – something that can be really invaluable particularly in a big city and especially when lockdown restrictions are in place.”
4. Look beyond the bedroom
When choosing a new home, particularly if you are living in a house or flat share, it can be tempting to focus solely on the bedrooms and how big and equally sized they are. Whilst there is no denying that it’s important you have your own private space that you enjoy being in, you should look beyond the bedroom and to the whole property.
As many are now working from home on a semi-permanent basis, consider how long you will spend daily in your bedroom compared to the living area or kitchen as well as what you need from the spaces. A huge bedroom is attractive, but a property with minimal space to work at, or cramped living spaces may not meet your actual living needs and could prove frustrating.
Dougie notes that it’s important to also consider life after lockdown when choosing a place to live. He advises: “If you are looking to meet new people in your new home once restrictions lift, then opting for a property which has communal spaces and opportunities to socialise with your fellow residents is a good option.”
5. Read between the lines
Tenancy agreements sound daunting, and if you are time poor can feel difficult to prioritise inspecting your contract but fret not, contracts are laid out in black and white for all parties to agree to.
Dougie explains: “Plainly put, the most important thing to play close attention to is the leasing period and terms for leaving. Typically, the length of contract will be stated in months. Here at The Duet we offer flexible tenancies to suit all needs.”
He adds: “Flexible lease tenancy agreements are a great option for renters of all ages and demographics, particularly in the current climate, and can relieve the pressure of strict contract terms.”
Furthermore, make sure to inspect the terms in your tenancy agreement regarding your deposit. It is important that your deposit is protected, so raise this with your landlord if there is no information about this protection, and also ensure that there are clear terms within the contract about what could impact your deposit being returned.
So, there you have it, five simple yet essential things that all renters, whether experienced or a novice, should look out for when finding a new home.