One of the biggest pitfalls of choosing the right flat can be dealing with the landlord. Even the perfect place can be ruined by problems that are left unresolved for quite a long time and as a tenant, a large part of your well being depends on your landlord doing his or her job well. This means that you have to be extremely careful and ask a lot of questions while you’re house hunting, to make sure that the joy of your new home isn’t dampened by various unresolved issues.
Now there is never a foolproof way to make sure you won’t run into any trouble with your landlord, but you can minimize the risk by following a few steps and getting all of your information before signing any binding legal agreements.
Here are a few things to help you on your way:
1. When you’re contacting agencies, make sure they are reputable. You can do this by asking people who have used the particular agency’s services before. Alternatively, you can seek out legal council and opt to have your contract looked at by a legal professional before signing. Additionally, if you are a student at university, your institution probably has a service to help you with your queries. For example, a lot of universities run advice centers, where you can go to have your potential contract checked, or agency verification services, where you can check if your letting agent or landlord fulfills all of the necessary criteria.
2. Talk to your landlord at length about all of the contract conditions. Once you’ve had a look through your contract, write down any and all questions or objections you may have. Additionally, ask about anything that isn’t explicitly covered in the agreement. This can include bill coverage and caps on the amount of bills covered by your landlord, estate tax, liability for damages, terms for rent and deposit, contacts and procedures in case of a problem or emergency. You should ask about anything and everything that comes to mind. Additionally, it might help to have someone else with you at the meeting in order to make sure that you do not miss anything important.
3. When you go on viewings of potential flats or houses, always try and chat with the current tenants, or get in touch with previous ones. Asking general questions about the property is important, but remember to pay special emphasis on their relationship with the landlord or landlady.
Some helpful questions would be:
- Have you had any problems with the landlord? Have all of the conditions of the contract been fulfilled?
- How quickly do issues get resolved?
- Is it easy to get in touch with the landlord?
- Have you incurred any additional charges and if so, why?
- Does the landlord let any other properties and do you know if those tenants have had any problems?
- What kind of problems do you contact the landlord about and which ones are you expected to handle yourselves?
All of these are only pointers of course, but they should get you started in the right direction.
4. Additionally, try to go on more than one viewing of your chosen property and have more than one meeting with the landlord. In between meetings you should be able to come up with more questions or points that you’d like to raise. This will help you to be as comprehensive as possible in your enquiries and avoid problems or unpleasant surprises further down the road.
Grace shares his experience in the field of relocation and home improvement. His publication you can check also at http://www.movingcompany.co.uk