Now is the time of year when a lot of young professional people are thinking about changing their rented property. In an ideal world most people would like to get on the property market 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 last night and in the nineteen seventies and eighties, the average time to save for a deposit was one to two years. Now it is ten to twenty! Haven’t times changed! Even the Bank of Mum and Dad is straining to keep up and when you are talking of average house prices of around £200,000 and deposits of 20-30% then £40-£60K is a big lump of dosh to find.
This is why the UK is moving slowly towards the German model where rental is the norm. There are after all quite a few advantages. You can change location, upscale, downscale relatively easily as your personal circumstances change and you become much more mobile in terms of work opportunities and career moves.
Rather than concentrate on the pros and cons of renting versus buying, basically 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.
Of course the first thing you need to identify is what the “minimum” requirements you need are. i.e. 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? The old adage is “Location, Location, Location and I would invite you to look at this situation in a slightly different light.
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 greater area to search (and therefore a much greater chance to find), your perfect property. Rather than “I want to be city centre”! Ask is there a good transport infrastructure? Good road and rail networks for buses and trains. Or in the Tyne and Wear area for instance, “Am I close to a Metro Station and how quickly and how much is it into the city centre. 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 a lot of the criteria you are using and then a few further questions with your agent or prospective landlord should help fill in that picture you are painting in your mind.
The final section of this part of our hunt is the running costs. There are many websites (and apps), for nearly everything these days and one there are a few for council tax. Remember if you are on your own, most councils will offer a single persons discount of 25% off the standard council tax. One very good site is http://www.mycounciltax.org.uk/content/index just pop in the postcode (you will need that for your Sat Nav if you are driving or walking anyway), it will tell you the correct amount. Also if you are having 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!
Once you are in the property either the owner or current tenant should be able to give you an idea of running costs for gas, electric and water that plus your transport costs should help you budget and manage your money better.
Once we have a short list of properties to visit we then need to go to the next level of our uber searchJ. 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 “Have you any plans to update? Or some such questions and if an agent is taking you should ask them to ask these questions to the landlord on your behalf. After all that’s what they are there for.
Pen-ultimately you are most probably young (ish)J. Therefore there is a good chance you will be spending quite a bit of time in your property. Can you get a good mobile signal in the property? 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?
Finally you will need to prepare yourselfJ. YES YOU! You will need to be referenced and if you have not been working very long, or you may have a poor credit status (for many reasons, not all badJ), so you may require a financial guarantor. Better to have one lined up and ready. You will most likely require an employment reference, it is worth finding out who specifically will need to give this. You can put this on your application form and it could save days (if not weeks if you work for a large organisation like the NHS), if the correct person is identified early on. Be prepared, Fail to plan and you have inevitably planned to fail! Be prepared and it is unlikely that anything will go wrong (Murphy’s Law). Just amble through and expect everything just to happen, then life will no doubt will bite you very hard on your bottom!
Well there you have the basics of the professional property search. This is not the definitive search engine, just an “Aid memoir” to help you focus a little more clearly. In fact you have probably already thought of a couple of other things you need to check out. But hey this is what such blogs are all about. They should be interesting, entertaining and most importantly, thought provoking! Good luck with your hunt.