Looking at the vast amount of rental properties to become your new home can be daunting. Whether you’re moving to a new area or even just finding a new property in the same area moving is stressful. Renting is slightly easier than hunting for houses to buy, but definitely has its own pitfalls. With housing and rental property costs rising in the UK it’s getting harder and harder to find yourself a good deal. They do exist though, so having an effective method of searching is key.
Why Rental Properties?
Many young people these days tend to live at home rather than choose a rental property. They believe that renting can be a waste of money, and choose to save up for buying a property outright. When you look closely though, this isn’t the case. Some studies show renting may, in fact, be better.
Firstly, limiting yourself to your parents or family home obviously cuts off a lot of opportunities. Unless your parents live in a city it could prove difficult to find a job or career to give you that cash you need for your own property. Your home will not be as much of an investment as you first think, your house will increase in value sure. This happens with everything due to inflation though, so your actual property gains will be minimal unless you manage to land a property in an up and coming area. Not to mention interest rates on your mortgage.
This doesn’t even start the rabbit hole that oftentimes ends up spending a big sum of money on house maintenance. It is yours after all and renting doesn’t have this problem. There are definite benefits for owning a house, like the very fact that you have a piece of land that is yours and the equity that you build with mortgages. However, limiting yourself and trying to rush and buy a house prematurely isn’t wise. Renting is not throing money down the drain, it’s a means to an end like paying for food, heating and electricity. Having a home shouldn’t be seen as throwing away money.
Determine Your Budget
So you have decided you want to go for a rental property, whether that be for flexibility of financial reasons. Firstly you must determine your budget for the properties you’re looking for. A good rule of thumb for the country is to spend around 25-30% of your gross salary on your rent and upkeep. This means factoring on water bills, service charges, council tax as well as gas and electric. The average gas and electricity bills change dependant on size, but it can be in the ballpark of £700-1600 a year.
If you’re starting out in your career, this may end up being too limiting of a budget. Looking for two or three bedroom apartments and discussing whether you can sublet the other rooms is a good alternative. This is called subletting and you must have your landlords permission to do this. You can find sublets on estate agent websites as well as being able to use services such as SpareRoom to find rooms themselves.
What Kind of Rental Property is Right for You?
The budget allocation previously may automatically decide this for you, as flats are often cheaper than houses when looking at the cost per square foot. However, if you can decide on either, here are a couple of pros and cons for houses vs flats.
Houses have the obvious benefit of being more confined, more of a private feeling. You probably can still hear noise from adjacent properties if it’s a terrace or semi-detached, but it will still feel more private than flats. Having your own garden and driveway is essential for some who drive to work or own pets too, so lifestyle has a huge say. You often get the suburban areas with houses too, with good parks and public spaces for children to play. One downside is that houses are more likely to be unavailable to lease again after your contract is up, as the landlord may put it on the market.
Flats have the perks of being cheaper not only in rent but in energy costs. Flats with 5 or more units use less energy than any other home types. Not only this but they’re often easier to get and keep hot, reducing the energy you have to pay even further. If you have a public garden area for the flats, you won’t be responsible for upkeep either so you can focus on your property. As mentioned with houses being suburban, flats are more likely to be located in urban environments. This is great if you’re working in the centre of the city or love being in the hustle and bustle.
Therefore, your area can be greatly determined by the property type you want. Looking at your budget as well as housing type will make it clear where in the new location you want to be. Looking into different urban or suburban areas to decide where you want to look should be the next step. Researching who predominantly lives there is essential, you don’t want to take a family to a student area for example. Looking at these areas budget and cross-referencing them with your own will give you a pretty complete picture.
What Tools and Tricks You Should Use to Find Rental Properties?
So you now know your budget, type of property and will have a good idea of what area, you need to start looking and building up a shortlist. There are a vast number of tools to help you find properties, with the most popular being Rightmove and Zoopla. These allow you to put in all the information you just researched into a search query and find appropriate properties.
If you prefer the personal touch of an estate agent, you can always build up a portfolio and go to your local agent yourself, as most of the properties ar listed by agents anyway. If you have only one area you’re interested in then going to local estate agents in that area could always be quicker too as they often have properties that aren’t listed on the market yet.
Going outside and using your eyes is a big tool that is underused due to the advancement of technology, don’t underestimate the value of a big “FOR LEASE” sign. There are older property owners who don’t understand or want to go through these online methods and just advertise directly. You can sometimes find some really good deals that aren’t listed online and have very few competing eyes on them.
Once you have narrowed down a shortlist of properties, it’s time for the final step of viewings. Viewings should always be approached as analytically as all the previous steps. Never feel pressured into singing for something by landlords. Walk around the property, try and assess the noise in the surrounding area, check the quality of all the facilities and ask all the questions you need to understand if the apartment is right for you.
Lastly, if you find your perfect property you should move quick! You won’t be the only one who liked it if you’re being thorough. Before you’re viewing properties you should have everything ready to go financially so you can make sure you land the place. Happy hunting.
If you are looking to rent a property in and around the Midlands, please get in touch with our helpful team. If you’d like some more information on the renting process, check out our page with the top seven steps to renting.