17 December 2014

Renting for the first time: a guide

If you’re new to renting, you may have questions that go beyond the practicalities of finding, securing and enjoying your new home. Here are a few things to consider.

1. Should I rent alone or in a group?

Most people renting a house or flat for the first time will do so in a house-share. This might mean forming or joining a group that starts a new contract together, or joining an existing share. Either way, it’s important to find the right fit, as you’ll be spending time with these people on a daily basis.

If you go down the houseshare route, here are some questions to ask…

  • Does anyone in the house have a partner who stays over regularly? Will that person contribute to the bills and housework?
  • What’s the house policy on smoking? Do people smoke in communal areas, in their rooms, or only outdoors?
  • Does everyone in the house work 9-5? If so, there may be a rush for the bathroom, so make sure the place has enough washing facilities to go around.
  • What are the housemates’ lifestyles like? Do they like to have friends round often, or are they more introverted? Do you share the same interests?

2. What’s your search criteria?

Rental prices depend on a wide range of factors. Some of them will be important to you, others less so. Answer these questions to help you decide what’s a must-have and what you’ll compromise on in order to fit to your budget.

  • How close do you need to be to the city centre and transport links? If you need to commute using public transport, this is essential!
  • How much do you value comfort and convenience? If the house or flat has been recently decorated, it’s likely the rent will be higher. Extra benefits like a dishwasher, high-quality furnishings, and security alarms can all push the value up, too.
  • Is efficiency important? Flats with modern combi boilers and double glazing may have higher rental prices, but they can be cheaper to run (and cosier to inhabit) in the long term.
  • Do you need outdoor space? Flats and houses with gardens and balconies tend to be more expensive, but can be a huge benefit, especially if you have pets, or if you’re not near a local park.
  • Do you have a referee or guarantor? If you’re renting a flat for the first time, you won’t be able to ask a previous landlord for a reference, so you’ll need to make sure your new landlord or letting agent will accept a work reference that shows you’re in steady employment. You could also have a guarantor — someone willing to take responsibility if you don’t pay rent. Often this is a parent or guardian.

3. Is your contents insurance in place?

Your landlord is responsible for insuring the property itself, but what about the possessions you bring, like clothes, bedding and gadgets? You could protect them with a contents insurance policy.

If you’re a student, your things may be covered under a parent or guardian’s cover. Some policies, such as Nationwide's Home Insurance include cover for student’s possessions, so it’s worth having a chat with your parents or guardian to see if you’re already covered.

*Nationwide buildings and contents insurance is underwritten and administered by U K Insurance Limited. Limits and exclusions apply.

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