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Thursday, June 02, 2011

New to renting? A few things to think about

The days of moving away from the family home into a place of your own are long gone in many cases. For most people, the first rung on the property ladder isn’t on the ladder at all – it’s a rental property. And if you believe the financial forecasts, it’s a trend that’s only likely to continue in the years to come. With more and more people forced to rent, it’s logical that the market will be flooded with rental properties. More flats, more houses, more choice.

With this in mind, it’s important to know what you’re doing when looking for the first home away from your parents. Whether is student digs or a more general rental property, it’s a good idea to come up with a checklist of things you need to do. Some, such as your monthly rent, will be obvious, while others, such as landlords insurance, may be new to you. Here’s a few points to get you started.

Cost things up

It’s really important to find a property that’s affordable – and working out this figure isn’t easy. One of the best tricks is to work backwards. First start with your monthly income, including any benefits or tax credits. Then deduct all the monthly costs you’re likely to encourage each month, including council tax, utility bills, groceries and money for socialising. Go through old bank statements to get an idea of your spending habits. At the end, you should be left with a maximum amount you can spend on rent. It’s always a good idea to go a little lower than this – perhaps 10 or 20 per cent – to ensure you’ve got cash left over for things that can crop up unexpectedly.

Scour the market

There’s loads of ways you can find that first home sweet home. Sites such as RightMove and FindaProperty are useful for finding properties marketed by lettings companies, while Gumtree is where many private landlords advertise their properties. Don’t forget to look in your local newspaper classified section and newsagents’ windows.

Check your landlords’ credentials

A reputable landlord will have things such as landlords home insurance and the gas safety certificates they’re required by law to produce – and will be happy to provide you with evidence. Just as landlords want to find good tenants, tenants in turn should be able to expect a high level of service from their landlord. So don’t be afraid to ask them to prove their credentials.

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