I’ve been letting houses to students now for over 30yrs and this is what I think you should ask, consider and look out for do when viewing a property. Remember you are checking out the landlord as much as you are checking out the property. First of all DON’T PANIC, remember your are signing a contract which will have financial and personal implications if you drop out (you will still have to pay for the room if it can’t be re-let) or you end up moving in with someone you’ve only just met and now hate. You should ask about – the Landlord:
- Is the Landlord local?
- Are they members of any trade organisation like the NLA, ARLA or UKALA?
- How long have they been letting property?
- How many properties do they have?
- Contact the University of Cumbria’s Accommodation Office and ask the above questions and whether they are trustworthy or not. They are honor bound to give you an honest answer.
The above questions will give you an idea as to whether the Landlord takes his position as a Landlord seriously or if it is a part-time activity and if your problems will not be urgent or of little concern. You should ask about – safety:
- When was the Landlords Gas Safety Certificate issued? (It must be done within every 12mths.)
- When was the Electrical Installation Condition Report carried out? (It generally must be done within every 5yrs.)
- Are there wired in and linked smoke and heat detectors?
- Is there a Carbon Monoxide Detector wherever there is a gas appliance?
- If there is a mortise lock on either the front or back door and can it be opened from the inside without a key? (You want to be able to get out without a key in case there is a fire at 3am.)
- If there is a lock on your bedroom door, again can it be opened from the inside without a key? (You want to be able to get out without a key in case there is a fire at 3am.)
The above questions will let you know if the property is safe and if the landlord considers your safety important. You should ask about – generally
- If the boiler breaks down, how long do repairs take? (You don’t want to be without heat for 3wks in February.)
- Are the utilities (gas, electricity, water, phone line in, broadband & TV licence) included in the rent?
- Where is the deposit protected?
- How long is the contract for?
- Does the Landlord provide an inventory on moving in?
- Parking. Generally I advise that if you don’t really need a car don’t bring one.
- Are there any charges?
- Do I need a permit?
- Can I park at all?
The above questions are important and can add up to either a lot of expense or frustration. If there are any Tenants in the property while you are viewing it ask them the above questions. If need be come back when the Landlord is not present and ask them again. You should look out for:
- Does the property look well cared for?
- Is there enough fridge or freezer space for the size of property?
- Does it feel like home to you?
- DON’T TAKE A HOUSE JUST BECAUSE IT HAS THE RIGHT NUMBER OF ROOMS AVAILABLE.
- DON’T TAKE A HOUSE IF YOU ARE HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR COURSE.
- DON’T HAND OVER MONEY IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO RECEIVE A RECEIPT.
- DON’T RENT FROM A LANDLORD THAT YOU DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH.
- DON’T RENT FROM A LANDLORD THAT PUTS UNDUE PRESSURE ON YOU TO SIGN UP.
But most of all you are at University to prepare you for your future. You will need to work hard but don’t forget to have some fun. CJ