The fast pace of the rental market in London can make finding a rental property exhausting and frustrating. Rightmove, Zoopla and other portal sites can give you a useful overview and help you to compare different properties at a glance, but there’s no substitute for booking a viewing.
Popular properties also tend to be snapped up quickly, so getting on first-name terms with a local letting agent can help you skip to the front of the queue. If they know your search criteria and you’re in regular contact, you might be lucky enough to secure an early viewing before a property hits the market.
So what happens once you have that all-important viewing lined up? Here are a few questions to remember for when you step through the door.
Where’s the nearest…?
Fill in the blank with whatever matters most: Tube line, bus stops, supermarket, school, gym, coffee shop, green space, local pub (hey, these things are important). In London, being on the right Tube line is probably top of your list, but it’s worth thinking about the deal-breakers and the things you’re willing to compromise.
Even where your friends live can have a massive impact on your life. If you’re unsure where to call home, check out our Area Guides for our favourite pockets of London.
How will you use the space?
Ask yourself this question as you move between rooms. If you’re looking at unfurnished rental properties in London and the property is currently occupied, try to focus on the size and shape of the rooms rather than fixating on the furniture. You might hate the current tenant’s taste in decor, but you can soon work some feng shui on the place.
Here are a few considerations that might slip your mind in the excitement of the moment:
- What’s the garden like? Check what direction it’s facing, whether it’s overlooked, how much maintenance is involved, and whether it’s suitable for summer BBQs or pets if you have them.
- Is the property pet-friendly? Some landlords prefer not to rent to tenants with pets, but it’s worth asking the question.
- Where will you dry laundry? If there’s no laundry/utility room, you could use a spare room or find an unused corner that’s out of the way. Other options include buying a tumble dryer or hanging laundry outside during the summer.
- Who supplies the WiFi and services? In London, it’s probably not a massive issue, but it’s at least worth checking WiFi speeds and whether you get signal inside the property. When it comes to utilities, switching suppliers is usually straightforward.
- Is the kitchen suitable? Even if you’re no Delia Smith or Jamie Oliver, having enough cupboard space and worktop surfaces will come in handy.
- How much natural light enters the property? Check what direction the property is facing and think about whether you’ll be basking in the warm glow of sunshine or sitting in the dark.
- How much storage space do you need? Whether it’s a loft space or deep cupboards, it’s handy to have somewhere to put unwanted Christmas presents and years of Amazon purchases.
Oh, and one practical consideration: check for any repairs when you’re walking around and get these down in writing.
Can you afford the monthly rent?
Ask your agent about any other costs associated with renting the property. For instance, you’ll probably be asked to pay a deposit and go through referencing checks (this is standard and isn’t any reflection on your character).
You should also ask about other bills such as:
- Estimated running costs (ask to see the EPC certificate for an indication of how expensive the property will be to heat).
- What council tax band the property is in and how much this costs for your borough.
- Any other costs associated with the building or grounds maintenance.
- Cleaning costs if you’re renting a shared property.
- Contents insurance and other types of insurance. This is sometimes required as part of the rental agreement.
A letting agent with local knowledge should be able to answer most of your questions on the day of the viewing. If you’re looking in East London, Keatons has been established in this area for over 20 years, so we can tell you more about a neighbourhood than just the bus routes. However, even after asking the right questions, our final advice is to trust your first impressions and go with your instincts. Only you know if a property is right for you and whether it has the potential to become a home.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the rental properties we currently have available in East London. You can book a viewing online without even needing to pick up the phone.
See our full list of property advice articles in our Knowledge Centre.
Keatons has been based in East London for over 20 years and has since expanded to the north and south of the city. We have an outstanding Trustpilot rating from customers and we are known for helping sellers and landlords achieve the best possible market price for their property. To find out more, visit our website.