When viewing a new home, your first reaction will always be emotional. You'll either love the look and feel of the place and know that it's right for you - or you'll realise within seconds that you want to reverse right back out of the front door.
Once you find the right one, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty: have you explored the local area thoroughly? Have you gone over the house or flat with a fine-toothed comb?
Our rental checklist provides a good round-up of all the things you need to consider while looking the place over - and there's a handy printable version too, so you can tick everything off as you go round.
First up, check out the exterior
Is the outside of the property in good condition?
Is the property secure - including windows and external doors? Have you checked the quality of the locks?
Is there an entry-phone system and burglar alarm? And has it ever been burgled or damaged?
Is there a garden?
What is the aspect of the front and/or back garden (is it south-facing to catch the rays?)?
Who is responsible for maintaining the garden?
What is the state of the garage, shed and/or other outbuildings?
Is there a driveway or off-street parking? Is a permit required?
Are there any potential nuisances or red flags - passing traffic noise, a nearby nightclub, exposure to flash flooding?
Next up, take a good look at the interior:
Are the windows single, double or triple-glazed?
Do the downstairs windows have locks?
What is the condition of the window frames?
Is there enough storage space?
Is there central heating? Do the boiler and all the radiators function properly? (It is a legal requirement for landlords to have gas safety certificate in place and all gas appliances must be inspected annually. Does the landlord have their certificate in place and can you see it?)
Is there any sign of dodgy wiring, loose wires or faulty plugs, lights or light switches? (It is a legal requirement for landlords to issue all tenants with an electrical safety certificate and safety checks must be done by a qualified electrician every five years. Does your landlord have one in place for the property and can you see it?)
Does the property have an Energy Performance Certificate in place? All landlords must order an EPC for potential tenants before marketing their properties to let. An EPC includes information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs. It also contains recommendations about how to reduce energy usage and save money. The certificate assigns the property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for ten years.
Are there carbon monoxide detectors present? (A carbon monoxide alarm is legally required in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance.)
Are there enough smoke alarms and do they work? (Private sector landlords have been legally required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties since 1 October 2015.)
Is there an easy means of escape in the event of a fire?
Is any furniture unsafe, broken or damaged in any way?
Do the furnishings comply with the latest fire safety regulations (1989 Fire and Furniture Regulations)?
Are there enough power sockets? Are they easily accessible?
Is there a phone/internet line?
Are there signs of damp, mould, condensation, woodworm, pests, flaking paint or infestations of any kind?
Are the curtains or blinds in working order?
Is there privacy from the street and the garden?
Do kitchen appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers work?
Are there enough kitchen cupboards and work surfaces?
If it's furnished, are the pots, pans and kitchen equipment in good condition?
If it's furnished, what is the condition of the dining table and chairs?
What is the pressure from taps?
What are the sizes of the fridge and freezer?
Is there a fire blanket and fire extinguisher in the kitchen? (This is required by law if the property is an HMO.)
Are there any signs of damp/mould?
Is there a window or extractor fan?
Does the toilet flush and do the bath and sinks drain adequately?
Are the sealants around the bath and shower intact?
Are the taps and shower not leaking?
Is there hot water, and good water pressure from the taps and the shower?
Are the bedrooms adequately heated? Are there curtains?
Is there a built-in wardrobe and/or cupboard?
What is the condition of the mattress?
And the additional checks:
How much is the rent and what is included?
What other bills are there and what are you liable to pay?
What are the estimated running costs of the property?
How much of a deposit is required? What are the conditions for the landlord deducting money from the deposit?
Can you comfortably afford the rent on top of the deposit and running costs?
What are the neighbours on each side like?
Can the property receive a quality broadband and wi-fi service?
Are there any mobile phone dead spots?
Are you allowed to redecorate?
Is the property within close proximity to public transport connections and amenities?
If anything needs to be repaired, ask the landlord to commit to doing the works in writing.
Double-check the inventory before you move in.
Get a copy of the tenancy agreement and make sure you fully understand it.
Keep your own signed copy of the tenancy agreement.
Ask previous tenants about their experience of the landlord and the property.
Check and note all meter readings on the day you move in.
Arranging viewings safely
When arranging viewings, it’s sensible to follow a few safety principles.
It’s always a good idea to take someone with you to a viewing. After all, it’s handy to have a second opinion, right?
Let a friend or relative know where you are, what you’re doing and that you’ll give them a quick call when you’re done. Use WhatsApp to share your location for extra peace of mind.
If you’re worried an advertiser isn’t who they say they are, share your concerns with us straight away via our Help Centre .
If you're looking at a room share, ask to meet everyone who lives/will be living at the property. This will help you get to know all of your potential flatmates, and gives you a sense of their characters.
Remember if you feel at all uncomfortable, you can leave the viewing at any time. Always trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, it’s time to go.