UK Easy Rental Advice
Rent a Room
|VIEW A FLAT - VIEW AN APARTMENT|
The viewing - things to consider - questions to ask
Cheap rents can often be an indication of the quality of the area where the accommodation is located.
So be careful. Do some research. Check out the neighbourhood.
On which floor is the flat located? Remember that the ground floor is the least secure as thieves can climb through an open window, or break a window if it is closed. If the flat is located on the top floor of the building you will suffer the least disturbance from neighbouring flats but if there is no lift/elavator you may find climbing up the stairs rather tiring. As a good compromise, perhaps try to choose a flat on the first floor or second floor.
Is the building located on a noisy main road? If so it may be difficult to get a peaceful night's sleep.
How many other flats are located in the same building? What kind of people live in the neighbouring units - single working people, students, families? Ask the landlord or agent who is conducting the viewing. If you value peace and quiet this will be an important issue for you.
First ask yourself how you intend to allocate the rooms in the flat. For example, if you are viewing a two bedroom flat, are you thinking of using the lounge as a third bedroom? In this way you could reduce the rent paid per person, since one or room people could sleep in the lounge. You need to consider all the following factors - how many bedrooms? what size are the bedrooms? how big is the lounge? Also, is there enough storage space?
If you are intending to use the lounge as an extra bedroom then the room layout, or floorplan, is very important. Ideally there should be doors leading to all the principal rooms from the hallway. For example, you don't want a situation where to get from a bedroom to the kitchen or toilet, your only route is to walk through the lounge, where someone may be sleeping.
Big rooms can seem attractive but they do have one disadvantage. If the room is too big, or the ceiling is very high, the room could be difficult and/or expensive to heat in the winter.
Are the windows single glazed or double glazed ? If the windows are single glazed you will lose heat in the winter, it may be too hot in the summer and noise insulation will be poor. Which way do the different windows face? If a window faces another room, either in the same building or in a neighbouring building, you may feel a loss of privacy. The only solution will be to keep the curtains permanently closed.
If you have no furniture of your own you will have chosen to rent a furnished flat. You may have to buy an extra bed or beds to put in the lounge if you intend to use it as a bedroom. How many single beds and how many double beds will you require? What other furniture is included - sofa, settee, other chairs, table, desk, cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, etc? How closely does the actual furniture supplied match your personal requirements? Are there any carpet or rugs? If so, what condition are they in?
If you do have your own furniture you will have chosen to rent an unfurnished flat. Your main consideration will be, how easy is it to move in your own furniture, especially the large items? Consider the size of the stairwell or lift/elavator if you are viewing a flat on any floor other than the ground floor. Also consider the size and layout of the hallway and any corridors used to access the flat. There would be nothing more embarassing than discovering that your favourite sofa jams while negotiating a corner in a narrow corridor.
You should check that the kitchen meets your basic requirements. Does it include a cooker, a fridge freezer, a sink and drainer and a work surface for preparing food? Is the cooker simply a hob, or is an oven included as well? Is a washing machine included? If not, is the plumbing in place, should you wish to install your own washing machine? The cooker, fridge freezer and washing machine are collectively known as white goods. How much storage space is there - in cupboards or on shelves? What other equipment is provided - microwave, toaster, kettle, cuttlery, crockery, etc?
How big is the kitchen?
If you plan to eat in the kitchen then there should be enough room for a table and a number of chairs.
If the flat is described as furnished, is this kitchen furniture included?
Perhaps there is a breakfast bar and stools?
After washing your clothes, where can you dry them? On a washing line in a communal area outside the building, shared with the occupants of other flats in the building? Or maybe the flat has its own balcony? Maybe there is a warm airing cupboard? On the other hand the only option may be to dry your clothes in the kitchen or bathroom. This is not advisable as the air in your flat will become moist. Condensation will occur and mould may start to grow on the walls and window frames.
What type of heating is available? Various forms of heating are used in flats. Night storage electric heating is common. Unfortunately it is both difficult to control and is generally more expensive than other methods of heating. Central heating, feeding several hot water radiators located in different rooms in the flat will be more economical and more easily controlled. The cost of heating will almost certainly NOT be included in the rent. Confirm this with the landlord.
If you intend to watch terrestrial TV, check that there is a TV point somewhere in the flat. If you intend to install a BT landline for telephone and/or other services, check that there is a BT point somewhere in the flat. You will almost certainly have to install your own broadband connection. Free wi-fi, shared by all the flats in the building is extremely unlikely.
If you have a bicycle you will need to know where you can store it safely. Storing your bike in the living area of the flat is untidy and if the flat is on any floor other than the ground floor you will have the problem of using the stairs or lift/elevator to contend with. And anyway there may well be a clause in the tenancy agreement prohibiting bicycles from entering the building. There may be a secure bike shed outside the building or perhaps a safe and secure place where you can lock up your bike behind the building or in the back garden or yard.
Mailbox security is an important issue, particularly if you are expecting to receive valuable parcels or confidential mail. For most modern purpose built flats the mail delivery system is secure. The postman or postwoman will gain access to the building using a trade button located next to the front door along with all the doorbell buttons and entryphone. He or she will then deliver your mail through your own personal letterbox located in your own flat front door. Unfortunately, for flats located in older converted buildings the mail will most likely be dropped through one common letterbox at the building entrance. Therefore mailbox security will be poor since all the mail for all the occupants of the building will be left in a pile on the floor by the front door.
When you rent a flat you will usually have to pay all the utility bills yourself. These will include council tax, gas, electricity & TV license. In some situations you may have to pay the water rates, but not always. Check with the landlord or agent who is conducting the viewing. You may also choose to set up the following additional services - telephone landline, broadband internet, cable TV, etc. The installation and regular payments for such services are entirely your responsiblity.
In a building divided up into a number of flats a Property Management Company will usually be responsible for repairs, maintenance and cleaning of all communal areas and services. Who fixes the lift when it breaks down? Who regularly cleans the communal hallways and stairwells? Who fixes the entryphone system when it fails? The Property Management Company will be responsible for dealing with these types of issues. Ask the landlord or agent what exactly the situation is with the flat that you are viewing. For most modern purpose built flats located in large blocks a good system of management will be in place. Unfortunately this is very often not the case for flats located in smaller or older buildings. When things go wrong nobody seems willing to accept responsiblity. So maintenance becomes poor, infrequent or even non-existent. Repairs don't get done when things go wrong and the building starts to look shabby and neglected. When you view the flat look out for evidence of poor maintenance - lights that don't work, doors that don't shut properly, doorbells that don't work, rubbish in the hallways and even abandoned cars in the car park. Take these factors into account before making your final decision.
If having viewed the flat you feel pleased with what you have seen so far,
CHECK OUT THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
ROOM SIZES - ROOM LAYOUT
KITCHEN SIZE? - WHITE GOODS?
TV, BT & BROADBAND