Looking for a Professional Let this Summer?

Traditionally, now is the time of year when a lot of young professional people are thinking about changing their rented accommodation.  In an ideal world, most young people would like to get on the property ladder but recent events have generally slowed that down.  The property market, bank/mortgage lending criteria, Brexit, do I need to go on?  I saw a programme on the TV recently and in the nineteen seventies and eighties, the average time to save for a deposit was one to two years. Now it is closer to ten to twenty!  Times have indeed changed.  The fall back banks of Mum and Dad are straining to keep up and when you are talking about average house prices of around £200,000 and deposits of 20-30% then £40-£60K is a huge sum of money to find.

The UK is moving slowly towards the German way of life where rental is the norm. There are, after all, quite a few advantages.  You can change location as well as upscale and downscale relatively easily as your personal circumstances change and you become much more mobile in terms of work opportunities and career moves.

Rather than focus on the pros and cons of renting versus buying, it’s clear that the market is moving that way whether we like it or not so let’s look at what you can do to maximise your chance of getting a good rental property in your chosen location at the right price.

Of course, the first thing you need to identify is your personal minimum requirements. For example, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, reception areas, garage, garden etc.  The next point is location.  Is it to be near to work for commuting? Or does it need to be close to friends and family? How about hobbies? Do you want to be close to your golf club or gym?

Ashley’s law of requisite variety clearly states that the component, element or person in any system or situation, with the greatest degree of flexibility, is the component, element or person that will control that system of situation. Therefore, by being flexible i.e. within three miles (10 mins drive or forty-five minutes’ walk), should give you a much greater area to search, and therefore a much greater chance to find, your perfect property.  Rather than only focusing on City Centre living, ask is there a good transport infrastructure? Good road and rail networks for buses and trains are usually in abundance in and around our Cities, take the Tyne and Wear area for instance. I see this as good practice rather than just compromise.

Most good agents and property portals, such as Rightmove and On The Market will have a property search engine where you can specify the criteria you require, with a degree of flexibility built in too (radius searches for example) and then a few further questions with your agent or prospective landlord should help fill in that picture you are painting of your ideal home.

Once a short list of properties has been decided upon its time to arrange some viewings and really start to think about your next move. What condition is the property in? I think you can always tell the type of landlord you will have by the way they look after their rental properties. You could always ask if they have you any plans to update or some such questions and if the viewings are carried out by an agent then you should ask them to ask these questions to the landlord on your behalf. After all, that’s what they are there for. It’s also a good time to start to think about your overall budget, rent isn’t the only consideration when taking on the commitment of a new tenancy. You have to think about the overall running costs. There are many websites and apps for almost everything these days and one we have found to be particularly useful is I relation to council tax. Remember, if you are on your own, most councils will offer a single person discount of 25% taken from the standard rate of council tax.  One very good site we’ve found is this one: http://www.mycounciltax.org.uk/content/index just pop in the postcode and it will tell you the correct amount of tax owed.  Also, if you are considering a short let, it is worth remembering that you pay council tax monthly over 10 months with no money due in either February or March. If you have a 6 month let from say October 1st you will only pay four months tax, not six.

Of course, either the owner or agent should be able to give you an idea of running costs for gas, electricity and water. That plus your transport costs should help you budget and manage your money successfully and ensure you don’t get into difficulties later on.

Have you thought about how much time you will be spending in your property? Can you get a good mobile signal? Is 4G and fibre broadband available in this postcode? After all, you don’t want to find you cannot make or receive calls or have to change airtime provider to do so, do you?

When the decision is made and you’ve found your perfect property it is more than likely that you will need to be referenced by an outsourced referencing partner to your agent or landlord. Generally speaking, this requires completion of a standard application form, from which they will gain an overall credit score, strengthened by other references. These usually include, where appropriate, an employment reference. Tip: it is worth finding out in advance who specifically will need to give this from within your company. Putting this on your application form could save days, if not weeks if you work for a large organisation like the NHS. If you’re worried about the reference for any reason, talk to your agent or landlord. Have the conversation and be honest. It could be that you have not been working very long, or you may have a poor credit status. These things are all workable and don’t necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to take up residency in the property. It could just mean that you require a financial guarantor. If you think this may be the case, then it’s better to have one lined up and ready. It will save time and energy for all parties.

So there you have it, these are the fundamental basics of a successful, hopefully, stress free professional property search. Of course agents and landlords will all work differently, you may be asked for more or less information and you should be prepared for that but this should give you a good place to start.

Wishing you the best of luck with your property search.

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