If you’re not quite ready to pull the trigger and purchase a house, or you don’t yet have the necessary funds (let’s face it, who does nowadays?), then renting is probably where you’re at.
Whether you’re negotiating the lease on an apartment in London or looking to rent a bedsit in Bangkok, knowing how to get the very best deal can save you both money and hassle – especially if you’re new to the renting game.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 10 tips to help you secure the best rental deal and cheapest rent possible:
1. Set a realistic budget (and stick to it)
By setting yourself a realistic budget, you can narrow down your search and immediately eliminate properties you cannot afford. It’s a simple step and one that can even help you disqualify entire areas, gifting you more time for looking at rentals that fit your budget.
It’s important to factor in bills on top of the rent, too. They inevitably need to be paid each month, so your entire budget can’t all go on rent alone.
Top tip – Look for rentals that are all-inclusive i.e. all bills are included in the cost of the rent. They do exist and while the total price may seem high, it could work out cheaper than other alternatives when you do the math.
2. The power of the app
With your budget set, it’s time to get your smartphone out and leverage the power of technology to see what’s available in the local rental market. Depending on where you’re looking, there are loads of apps that can help.
For example, in the UK, apps like Rightmove and Zoopla can pinpoint pads for rent using your current location as a marker. Walking down a street you love? Get out the app and see what’s available. It’s an awesome feature when you’ve found a nice area, but aren’t sure what’s available.
3. Scope out the neighbourhood
It’s a bit of an old cliché, but the phrase “location, location, location” still rings true today. The bottom line is that when it comes to real estate, location is absolutely everything!
Don’t be tempted by a beautiful rental property if its location sucks. You’ll inevitably be contracted to live there for a reasonable amount of time, so you want to enjoy it as much as possible.
Spend some time in the area and assess whether it’s somewhere you could enjoy living. What entertainment facilities and shopping are nearby? Are there good public transport links? Do you have a strong signal on your smartphone? Is reliable Internet access available? Etc.
4. Get to know your housemates
Maybe you’re considering a house/flat share. It’s a great way to score a nice place and have less of a financial burden each month.
But sharing a home with someone can be a little scary – especially if you’ve never done it before and you don’t know the individual(s) you’ll be sharing with.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to get to know your potential housemates before you make a decision and put pen to paper. Ask them if you can hang out a bit beforehand and just generally get to know them a bit better.
5. Vet your landlord, too
Remember, the relationship you have with your landlord is actually pretty important when you’re renting. After all, they are ultimately responsible for granting any requests you might have, as well as fixing any issues that may crop up during your tenancy.
If a landlord seems unreasonable or unreliable when you first meet them e.g. they arrive late or just don’t seem that friendly or flexible, be prepared to walk away. Going forward, when you need essential repairs done, are you going to be able to rely on them?
6. The small print
Rental contracts/agreements are all pretty much of a muchness. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect to read yours. Failure to notice something you’re not happy with in your contract at the beginning isn’t going to be a good enough excuse when (if) it comes back to bite you at a later date.
Go over your rental agreement with a fine-toothed comb and don’t be afraid to ask questions (lots of them) if there are bits you’re not sure about. It’s too late to say something once you’ve signed it, which is why you need to fully understand exactly what the deal is before you do.
Make sure you understand all the fees and whose responsibility it is to get stuff done. This is particularly important if you will be renting the property through a letting agent or similar.
You are well within your rights to ask for parts of the contract to be changed. You’d be surprised what the landlord or letting agent will be willing to amend to secure a solid tenant like you. At the very worst all they can do is say no, right? It’s always worth a try.
7. Ensure your deposit’s protected (where applicable)
When you rent, you pay a security deposit at the start of your tenancy. At the end of your contract, providing you’ve been a model tenant and met the terms of your rental agreement, you’ll usually get your deposit back.
If you’re going to be renting in England or Wales, your deposit must be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme by law. Such schemes protect you and your deposit, affording you a number of rights when your tenancy comes to an end, such as getting your deposit back in a timely fashion and benefitting from a free dispute resolution service if there are any problems.
N.B. Similar schemes apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
8. Double check the inventory
You’ll be given an inventory for the property by the letting agent or landlord when you move in. This lists everything that’s provided with the property and outlines the condition of all the fixtures and furnishings.
For example, if there’s a large stain on the living room carpet, it should be clearly listed in the inventory.
First, make sure you are given an inventory when you move in. Second, be sure to query anything that’s incorrect, so it can be updated before you sign it. For extra security and peace of mind, consider taking time-stamped photos of any issues you notice when you move in so you have photographic proof it was like that when you moved in when it’s time to ask for your deposit back.
9. Get suitable contents insurance
While your landlord will inevitably be responsible for ensuring the property has suitable buildings insurance, it’s up to you to protect your valuables and possessions. For this, contents insurance can provide an enormous safety net.
Shop around to get the best price, but be sure to check that everything you think is included actually is. You don’t want any nasty surprises further down the line if you have to make a claim (which you hopefully won’t).
10. Getting your deposit back
Again, your rental agreement/contract is important here as it will often outline your responsibilities as a tenant when it comes to vacating the property. For example, there may be a clause that stipulates you must get the carpets professionally deep-cleaned before you leave.
If anything is now missing from the home or has become broken during your stay, replace it. You’ll usually find that replacing something is a lot cheaper than allowing the landlord or letting agency to deduct it from your deposit.
Take the time to really clean. A bit of elbow grease can go a long way to ensuring you get your deposit back. Basically, aim to leave the property as it was when you moved in.