As the rental revolution continues to gather pace across Britain, Steve Cook, head of lettings at Henry & James, offers a practical guide on how to improve your property search.
Looking to rent in London? The renewed confidence in the property market since the election has certainly filtered through to the rental sector. But, as with buying property, you need to do your homework. Steve Cook, head of lettings at Henry & James, with ten years’ experience in the field, shares his top tips for families on how to find the best properties.
1. Look at prospective rental properties at different times of the day – perhaps at eight in the morning and eleven at night. Some streets can get congested during the morning rush hour or the school run. You don’t want any surprises when you move in.
2. Remember that family-sized rental properties are harder to come by than apartments suitable for young professional couples, so make sure you leave plenty of time for your search.
3. Most people do an initial online search for suitable properties in their target area. That’s fine, but remember that some rental properties never appear on the big property portals. There is also a common misconception that, if a property is featured on one of the big property sites, it will feature on all of them. Not the case.
4. There is no point in looking too far ahead. If you want to rent from January 2016, you are wasting your time searching now. Most properties only come up for rent at around two months’ notice.
5. Use a firm, who is an accredited member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). Not all agents are ARLA-accredited (www.arla.co.uk), but if you use one who is, you will have an extra tier of protection.
6. Any decent agent in central London will work long hours and be prepared to show you properties to fit in with your family life. If you want to form a good relationship with the lettings agent, show your appreciation, too.
7. If a property is directly managed by the landlord, rather than through an agent, make sure they are competent and experienced.
8. Listen carefully to what the agent tells you about a property and the area. Draw upon their local knowledge and experience. Ask them for all the relevant background information, too.
9. Clarify the position about the deposit you have paid the landlord to cover wear and tear, maintenance, cleaning etc. Tenants with assured shorthold tenancies are protected through a government-backed scheme (www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview). But be realistic how much it costs to clean a property between lettings, for example.
10. Be willing to compromise. If you expect a property to tick every box, then you are likely to be disappointed. There is no such thing as the perfect property, so be flexible, within reason, on price, location, size etc.
Armed with these tips, you should be able to track down a suitable property. There are plenty of good homes out there – the majority of them professionally managed and in good decorative order. After some up-and-down years, the central rental sector is in rude health.Back to News