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Apartment Hunting: What to Look Out For

If you are looking to rent an apartment, it is important that you make some basic checks to ensure your future home is well maintained and suits your particular needs.


Here's the things you should consider:




Costs


Before you consider whether the apartment is suitable, the finances are an important part of your decision making process. Here's some pointers on the costs you will need to consider:

  • Holding Deposit - Normally 1 week's rent


  • Security Deposit - Although this is a one-off cost you'll need to factor this into your costs. Since 1 June 2019, the maximum tenancy deposit permitted is equal to 5 weeks' rent. Learn more here


  • Rent - What is included in the rent? This will be your highest monthly cost so important to understand what this will be and what is covered


  • Utilities (Electricity, Gas and Water) - Check the tenancy agreement to confirm who will be responsible for these fees.


  • Installation of cable/satellite - If this has not already been provided, you will be required to pay the relevant installation fee.


  • Communications - Check the tenancy agreement to confirm who will be responsible for these fees.


  • TV Licence - If you intend to watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, on any channel, watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.) or download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer, you must pay this fee. Learn more here


  • Council Tax - This is a set fee. Learn more here


  • Insurance - Although building insurance is not required, you should take out insurance to cover your belongings for theft or certain types of damage


  • What other bills are there and what are you liable to pay?

There may also be other costs which are payable eg.:


  • Gym membership - understand the fees


  • Parking - is there a fee for using the car park? If so, how much?



Zoopla have prepared a list of questions you should have in mind, which we've added to:



Exterior

  • Who manages the exterior?


  • Is this well maintained?


  • Is the apartment secure? Check the windows and external doors open, shut and lock correctly

  • Does the building have a security system?


  • Is there any outdoor space - communal and / or private and when can these be used?

  • Who is responsible for maintaining the building including any outdoor spaces?

  • Is there external storage?


  • If there is parking, is a permit required and how much does it cost?


  • If there is a lift, is it well maintained?

  • Are there any potential red flags eg. thin walls separating you and your neighbours, loud traffic noise, noise from building works, near noisy commercial premises such as a late night restaurant, bar or club? 


  • If there is cladding, has it been deemed unsafe and what is being done to remedy this and to what timescale?


And if you are particularly keen on the apartment delve deeper:


  • What are the emergency contacts for out of hours help relating to the building?


  • Have there been any burglaries and what was done to remedy the situation?


  • How often are the windows/glass balconies cleaned?


  • What is the evacuation point in the event of a fire?


  • How often are there fire drills and when do they happen?



Shared Spaces


If you are looking to move into a building which has common shared spaces, check these out to make sure they suit your needs. For example, if there's a gym and / or pool, what are it's opening times and are there any restrictions on when you can use it.



Interior

  • Are the windows single, double or triple-glazing?

  • If the apartment is on the ground floor, do the windows have locks?

  • What is the condition of the window frames?

  • Is there enough storage space?

  • What type of heating is provided and is it well maintained?


  • If there is a solid fuel heating system, 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 required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties since 1 October 2015.

  • Is there any sign of poor wiring, loose wires or faulty plugs, lights or light switches?

  • Is there an easy means of escape in the event of a fire?

  • If you are looking at a furnished apartment:


- Do the furnishings comply with the latest fire safety regulations (1989 Fire and Furniture Regulations)?


- Is the furniture in good condition?


- Is there sufficient furniture for your needs?



Are there enough power sockets and 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 there window dressings? If so are these in good working order?

  • Is there privacy from the street and the garden and / or communal spaces?


  • Is the décor in good order?


  • Can you hear the neighbours?


Kitchen

  • What appliances are provided?


  • Do the appliances work?

  • Are there sufficient kitchen cupboards and work surfaces?

  • Check the water pressure from the taps

  • Is the fridge and freezer size sufficient?

  • Is there a fire blanket and fire extinguisher in the kitchen?





Bathroom:

  • Are there any signs of damp/mould?

  • Is there a window or extractor fan?

  • Does the toilet flush?


  • Does the bath and sinks drain adequately?

  • Are the sealants around the bath and shower intact?

  • Are the taps and/or shower dripping?

  • Is there hot water and good water pressure from the taps and the shower?




Bedroom:

  • Are the bedrooms adequately ventilated?

  • Is there any in-built storage?




Additional Checks


  • What are the neighbours on each side like? Knock on their doors and find out

  • Can the property receive a quality broadband and wi-fi service?

  • Are there any mobile phone dead spots?

  • Are you allowed to redecorate?

  • Have you seen the landlord's gas safety record?

  • Have all appliances had safety checks (PAT tested)? Is the paperwork available to view? (PAT testing is not a legal requirement, but all electrical items should be maintained in good condition and serviced as necessary)

  • How close is the building to public transport connections and amenities?

  • If anything needs to be repaired, ask the landlord in writing

  • If the landlord agrees to make repairs, ask them to agree to it 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 apartment

  • Check and note all meter readings on the day you move in


Learn more about renting here.


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