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These 9 simple steps will help you find your ideal rental property

By Daisy Mason

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Before starting your search for a new rental home, there are steps that need to be taken in order to help you find the right property. And if you carefully follow the necessary processes, the property you end up with might be even better than what you imagined. Your perfect rental property may not be what you initially considered to be perfect, so be open minded and take a look at the 9 steps that will lead to you finding your perfect rental property.

1. Consider your actual needs

Whether you’re living alone, or you’re a large family with small children, everyone has different needs and will be looking for something specific to complement their lifestyle. First things first, consider what the most important aspects are for you when renting and be aware that you might not find exactly what you’re looking for.

Although the perfect location and size may exist, it might not be within your budget, so you need to be flexible and realistic about what you really need.

While a second bedroom might be useful, perhaps you’d actually prefer a garden or to save money each month.

You might also want to consider when to make your move, which we talk about in the blog Best Time of Year to Rent Out Property.

Side note: if landlords are wondering how to provide for their tenants, we have answers to your questions too, like "can I rent a room in my house?"

2. Decide on a realistic budget

Deciding on a budget goes hand-in-hand with what your needs are. For example, if you’re a family and need four bedrooms, you have to bear in mind that you’re more than likely to find only houses at this size, which means you may pay a premium for a garden and extra living space.

Contrary to this, if you’re searching for a one bedroom flat close to central London but you have a monthly budget of £1,000, then you’re unlikely to find anything in these areas and you’ll have to widen your geographical search.

There will be a happy medium between your budget and getting what you want, but you have to be prepared to compromise when necessary.

3. Narrow down areas

Although you might have your heart set on an area because you know if very well or you have friends and family living there, it’s always good to keep an open mind and let your budget drive your search.

For example, while your monthly budget may allow you to rent a one bedroom flat in Balham, you might be able to find a two bedroom apartment down the road in Streatham for less than this, giving you more space and saving you money.

If you work in central London, then it’s worth taking a look at our article on where to rent if you work in Zone 1, as this highlights areas where you can enjoy a quick commute while living further out from central London, where prices are generally lower.

4. Utilise Rightmove and Zoopla and register with agents

Online sites like Rightmove and Zoopla are a fantastic place to start your property search, as they are city-wide and allow you to easily compare prices and property types against the rest of the rental market.

However, you need to be aware that some properties are rented out before they even appear online, so it’s best to register with an estate agent who will be able to show you properties as soon as they are put on the market.

5. Start property viewings

Don’t worry if the first property you see isn’t right. But when you’re looking round potential homes, be open to the fact that what you’re searching for might not exist.

Go on viewings for a few properties to gauge what’s available and if you find something you really like, don’t waste time umming and ahing. The rental market in London is competitive and chances are it’s already being eyed up by someone else.

6. Put down your best offer

When you’ve found a property you like, it’s time to put in an offer with the agent.

Sometimes it’s possible to put down an offer that’s lower than the asking price, but not every landlord will be happy with this. We recommend offering as close to the asking price as possible to increase your chances of being able to rent the property. However, this is your decision and you shouldn’t necessarily rule out properties if they’re over your budget.

The date you can move in may also affect your offer and it’s best to stick to a date as close to the day it is available from.

Now is also your chance to make any requests to the landlord about anything you would like to change.

7. Get paperwork in order

While it’s always better to have documentation prepared in advance, the seventh step in the renting process is to get your paperwork in order once your offer is accepted.

At Foxtons this means:

  • Seeing your ID in person
  • Proof of address
  • Carrying out a Right to Rent check in branch
  • Collecting bank statements from the past three months
  • Reference from your current landlord/character reference
  • Reference from your employer

This documentation will then be approved by the landlord.

8. Pay your deposit and sign the contract

The process of sorting out your paperwork is simultaneous to paying the deposit and first month’s rent and signing your tenancy agreement, which is the contract in which you formally agree to rent the property.

At this time, your landlord will also sign the tenancy agreement and you will be able to raise any questions and concerns you may have.

You’ll also need to set up a standing order for your rent.

9. Move in day

After all these processes are complete, it’s finally time to move in!

The keys for your new rental home will be available on the day your tenancy starts, so make sure you organise any removal companies and transport around when you’re able to collect the keys from your estate agent.

An inventory for your new property may also be taking place on the day you move in, so it’s a good idea to request a copy, as well as making your own notes and taking pictures, detailing the state of the property on the first day.

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