Following on from my recent post – ‘Tips for Landlords’ – I wanted to follow up with a post containing some tips for people looking to rent. I have rented properties in Dublin city centre for a few years and between myself and friends we have seen pretty much everything the rental market can throw at you. Below are some general pointers which are worth bearing in mind, particularly for first timers.
Priorities: Everyone wants to live in a spacious place, with top drawer facilities and mod cons, with everything on their doorstep but yet quiet enough to get a good nights sleep, and all within budget. Unless you are very lucky or have a very large budget, this property does not exist. Therefore, before you begin your search list out your priorities whether it be space, cost, proximity to work/college etc. It will help you discount non-runners very quickly.
Budget: Be honest with yourself about what your actual budget is, taking in to account your monthly income and outgoings. Make sure to provide for new costs such as utilities, bin charges etc.
- Tip: When searching set yourself a rental budget but do look at properties that are slightly over budget as you may be able to do a deal with the landlord or agent. They typically overprice properties. Also try and find out the rent of similar properties in the area, you can use this when negotiating.
Know Your Rights: Before you start viewing properties, take the time to research your rights as a tenant. Have a look at the Citizen Advice Bureau and Daft.ie. When you do find a place, ensure you get a legally bound tenancy agreement, it seems simple but some landlords will look to keep rental income off the books for tax reasons. The agreement safeguards your deposit and clearly lays out the terms and conditions of the rental agreement so make sure you study it thoroughly.
- Tip: All rental properties are legally required to have a BER certificate so be sure to ask for one. ‘A’ is the best rating but if it is a ‘G’ you may freeze to death or spend a fortune trying to survive.
Ducks in a Row: When you find the perfect place you may need to move quickly so get yourself sorted in advance when it comes to referees and a deposit. You will need two references so if it is your first time renting, get a reference from your boss, college professor etc. Ideally you should be able to pay a deposit (1 months rent) as soon as possible. If there is a demand for the place, they are unlikely to hang around for you.
The Viewing: Okay, so you have found a place that on paper seems to fit the bill. As you view more places, you will develop your own system but I have listed below some general pointers to get you started.
- Hedging your Bets: Make a shortlist of properties to view in case you are disappointed. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- The Checklist: Before you go to the viewing make a list of the things to look out for and the questions you want to ask so as to ensure you get as much information as possible. If you plan on moving in your own furniture make a note of the dimensions of whatever you are bringing. Bring a measuring tape when attending a viewing so you can ensure you have enough room.
- Your Appearance: Possibly an odd one but I would recommend you dress respectably/half way decent when going to view somewhere. Its important to make a good impression because you may find yourself in the situation where you are bidding against someone else for the lease. The agent or landlord who you will be meeting needs to have confidence in your ability to pay the rent and not set up a small cannabis factory in the kitchen. First impressions count.
- Timing: Be prepared to set aside time for viewings i.e. potentially leaving work a bit earlier etc. so be flexible. In an ideal world landlords and agents would work to accommodate you but in most cases they wont
- Group Viewings: This can be an awkward experience as you weave past people, ducking in and out of rooms, and try to get the attention of the agent showing the property. Politely use your elbows and take your time to ensure you get the info you want.
- Photos: Take a couple of photos of every room so you can look back and decide if you want a second viewing, especially if you are viewing it on behalf of someone else or a partner. I learned this lesson the hard way, ask my girlfriend.
- Fittings and Fixtures: Keep an eye out for damp, mould and general wear and tear. All rental properties have snags but try to spot anything that might become an issue in the future.
- The Recce: If you are interested in a property take the time to go back and look around the area after hours or at the weekend to get a sense of noise, safety etc. You don’t want to discover an illegal drag strip after you move in!
- The Second Viewing: No matter what happens, do not commit to a property on the first viewing. Organise a second viewing where you can fill in the blanks and make an informed decision. Agents may try to put you under pressure but if you tell them you are interested they should notify you of any other offers, ideally they want a bidding war. Remember also that every agent and landlord will tell you that other people are interested so don’t be rattled. Hold the line.
Haggle: Its a personal thing but don’t be afraid to haggle, remember landlords want you to take their property. It could be something as small as getting a new microwave or €20 off the rent. It all counts and if you don’t ask you will never know.
If you would like to get in touch, have any comments, questions etc give me a shout on @dbkinch