Looking for a new rental? Parking, pets and piping hot water...the key questions to ask letting agents during viewings.
It pays to be prepared for rental property viewings, so arrive at each one armed with a uniform list of questions to ask the letting agent or landlord.
Keep answers organised by jotting them down on the back of the property listing details, or popping them into your phone. Even better, use our checklist.
Here are 11 questions to ask.
1. “What bills will I be responsible for?”
In the majority of cases, you’ll be required to pay all household-related bills associated with a rental property, so ask for a total estimate from the current tenant and compare it to our running costs tool at the bottom of the property listing.
Find out also if, as new tenant, you will be free to switch energy and broadband providers to the cheapest deals.
Check that bills like service charges, buildings insurance and ground rent which are typically covered by the owner of the property, won’t fall to you.
2. “Is there a carbon monoxide detector?”
Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive but currently only a legal requirement in rooms with fuel-burning appliances. Ask if the property has one and if the answer is no, you may want to put in a request or buy one yourself.
Gas safety checks should be carried out every 12 months by law and handed to you in a mandatory gas safety certificate.
It’s also a legal requirement to have at least one smoke alarm on every storey.
3. “Who is my first point of contact?”
Problems crop up in most properties, so it’s important to know whether the letting agent or landlord will be your first point of contact.
4. “Can I redecorate or have pets?”
When it comes to pets and redecorating, it all comes down to the landlord’s own policy.
But be clear with any requests from the start or you could face losing your deposit further down the line.
Take a look at our guide on renting with pets for more information.
5. “What does furnished actually mean?”
If the property is being rented either furnished or part-furnished, find out exactly what’s being left. After all, much of what you see on your viewing may belong to the existing tenants.
This isn’t just limited to furniture. Double check that items such as white goods will be in place. Buying them again could cost a small fortune.
If you want to move in furniture of your own, check with the letting agent or landlord to see if they will allow you to swap it over.
6. “How old is the boiler?”
If the property contains a boiler that looks like it’s on its last legs, it could have a big impact on you, despite being the landlords responsibility.
The last thing you want to find when you move in is that the hot water is temperamental and the water pressure is slow.
Bear in mind that all rental homes must now come with a minimum E score on an Energy Performance Certificate.
7. “Am I responsible for the garden?”
If it’s communal space, there may be a paid-for gardener in place.
On the flipside, it may even be in your contract that the garden is your responsibility to keep tidy.
8. “Who are the neighbours?”
Especially if you are looking at a flat or terraced house where you’re in close proximity to other residents, your neighbours matter.
Check who they are and what they do. A young family could mean early mornings and a group of 20-somethings might mean late nights.
There’s no guarantee the letting agent will have information about the neighbours, but it’s still worth asking what they know.
9. “How long is the walk to...?”
Distances from A to B on agent's property particulars are measured as the crow flies – the distance by foot is likely to be further.
If you’re planning to walk somewhere on a daily basis, such as to a train station or to a local school, find out how long it takes. The best idea is to test the walk out yourself to be sure the location will work for you.
10. “What's the parking situation?”
If the property only comes with off-road parking, find out if you'll require a permit from the local council and how much it costs a year – and, if you are part of a two-car household, whether you can apply for more than one permit.
Even with a permit, if the road is busy you could end up having to park a street away, which could be a problem.
If the home comes with allocated parking, ask how many spaces you'll get and whether residents tend to stick to their allocated spots.
It's worth checking whether the road has any parking restrictions, even if you are viewing a property with a drive or allocated spots, as you’ll still need to think about where any visitors will park.
Restrictions are most common near stations, schools or town centres, but they may only be for a few hours of the day.
If your day-to-day habits are likely to change when moving, check out local transport links that can make a big difference to your quality of life.
11. “Is there anything you think I should know?”
This is always a good last question as, being largely unexpected, it can negate any nasty surprises and uncover some nuggets of information you may not have otherwise stumbled across.
It also puts the onus on the letting agent or landlord to be totally transparent from the very start.
You might also be interested in...
- 5 common renting pain points – and how to overcome them
- How to complain about your rental property
- What to watch out for in a rental contract