Our moving day fast approaches – boxes of our possessions line the hall, our landlord is in the living room quizzing prospective tenants about their lives and strangers are walking around my home.
It’s a strange feeling when people you don’t know are walking around your home looking in every room, but that’s part and parcel of living in rented accommodation. The landlord asked us would he like us to show the apartment while we were at work so that we wouldn’t be inconvenienced. We told him we’d rather be there because we want to keep an eye on the people who’d be poking around.
Out of the eight different groups that view the property, only one or two of them asks any questions. I’m surprised by this because when I view a property I ask the landlord more questions than the landlord asks me! Is this because people are too shy to ask? Or is it because they don’t know what to ask?
Here are 10 questions every property viewer should ask their prospective landlord:
1. Are the bin charges included in the rent?
Some refuse collections companies are paid per collection and some are paid an annual fee. Ask how the refuse collection works and who covers the costs.
2. Is the heating powered by gas or oil?
In general, gas is more convenient than oil because you don’t have to get someone out to refill the gas tank. Also ask if the heating and hot water can be set to come on automatically.
3. Which internet/TV/phone providers are available in the property?
If a property doesn’t have the capacity for a fixed line broadband connection, I won’t rent it.
4. What electrical units and appliances are included?
Some people don’t mind, but with Irish weather, I can’t live without a dryer. Ask what is included because I recently viewed a property and it didn’t have a freezer! Which of the following is important for you: fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, toaster, kettle, microwave, TV, hoover?
5. What furniture is included and can you bring your own if you want to?
When we moved in to this apartment the mattress and sofa were so old and uncomfortable that we ended up buying our own. Thankfully our landlord was okay with this and took the old ones away.
6. What is the BER rating? (This only applies in Ireland)
A BER is a rating of how energy efficient a building is. It gives you an indication of how difficult the property will be to heat. The ratings go from A to G where A is the most energy efficient. It’s almost impossible to get an A rated property. Try to go for a B or a C. If you have to go for a D make sure this low rating is reflected in the rent. Stay clear of E, F and G rated properties. Landlords are legally obliged to provide a BER rating to prospective tenants so don’t be afraid to ask if it’s not on the advertisement.
7. How is the rent paid?
I will only live in a rental property if I can pay the rent by standing order. Don’t get yourself in to a situation where you have to be hanging around the house waiting for the landlord to come and collect the rent.
8. What’s the parking situation?
We got really lucky in our current apartment because not only is there a parking space in a gated car park included with the property, but there is ample visitor parking too.
9. What services are in the area?
When I moved in to this apartment I was a bit too optimistic about the distance between the property and the train station. I thought I could walk it but I ended up having to drive and pay for parking every day. Which of the following do you need to be close to: supermarkets, public transport routes, parks, playgrounds etc.?
10. How long is the lease?
In Ireland the standard lease is 12 months but if you’re a student you might only want a 9 month lease (the length of the academic year).
So, next time you’re viewing a property, speak up! Don’t be like most of the people who viewed this apartment – either too afraid or too clueless to ask the important questions.
What other questions should you ask a landlord? Comment below or tweet me @JennaCrotty.
By Jenna Crotty.