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Renting for the first time? Follow these 6 top tips


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For those new to the joys of renting, the stress and expense can be overwhelming.

Read the below top-tips for first-time renters to help you reduce some of that stress, and calmly asses the situation.

1. Plan your budget beforehand

Stock picture of Fifty, Twenty, Ten, and Five pound notes in a wallet.
(Chris Radburn/PA)

Work out your take home salary each month and budget for rent, food, travel and bills. Seems obvious but be detailed and cautious - make sure you know exactly how much you can afford on rent, so you don’t waste time looking at places that are out of your budget.

2. Ring estate agents directly

Zoopla and Rightmove are great places to start looking and get a feel for the market, but don’t rely on them. Properties are often snapped up quickly and not updated on the website, so before you fall in love with your dream house or flat, ring the letting agent to check it’s still free. If it is, book a viewing - stat! Don’t rely on email - by the time the agent gets back to you it might have already gone.

3. Check out the agency fees

To Let signs
(Yui Mok/PA)

Letting agents can charge for drawing up a tenancy agreement, carrying out credit checks, getting references and a number of other administrative things. This may seem an easy task, but boy will they charge a high price for it all. They can also charge a holding deposit to reserve a property. Such fees are pretty much inevitable if going through a letting agency rather than a private landlord, but they can vary wildly depending on who you choose. Check their website for a breakdown of fees.

4. Take your time looking round

When you’ve finally found a place that ticks all the boxes and you’re ready to look around it, don’t let the agent rush you. Take photos of the property and ask all the questions you need to. Does it come furnished? What are the rules on decorating? Check for signs of damp, listen for how loud the road is outside / if you can hear noisy neighbours, sit on the mattress and test out the shower pressure. Really think about what it would be like to live there and if you think it could work for you.

5. Check how much your council tax will be

A general view of a council tax bill.
(Joe Giddens/PA)

Ask the agent how much council tax will be. Different properties in different local authorities command different council tax bands, and it can have a significant impact on your budget.

6. Find out if you need a guarantor

Some letting agents will require you to have a guarantor, for example if you have started a new job and are in a probation period. There might be conditions on your guarantor, for example he or she might need to be a property owner themselves. Check this with the letting agent to make sure you meet the requirements.

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