When viewing a property, there are a number of things that you will want to check. After all, this is the opportunity for you to evaluate if it meets your requirements and if you need the landlord to make any changes to the property as part of your offer (e.g. repairs, add or remove furniture, etc.).
Also, using this checklist will help you to avoid making a decision that is based only on the emotional connection that you may have made with the property and its location. Renting a property is a financial commitment and you want to make sure that it’s the right home for you on all levels.
Outside the property & surrounding areas
Sources of noise & pollution
- Is there any sign of a construction site or scaffolding? If so, find out what is the nature of the work being done (e.g. construction, refurbishment) and for how long is it expected to continue. This may be an issue, making the place noisy, disrupting traffic, limiting parking space, etc.
- Is the building close to a busy street or busy crossroads with a traffic light? If so, check on which side of the building is the property located. If the windows look over a busy traffic light area, it may be an issue for you in the summer, when you’d want to keep your windows open.
- Is it close to a school, hospital, fire station? These could all be sources of noise, especially if the property is not equipped with double-gazed windows. Make sure you are aware of and comfortable with being in close proximity to these.
- Where are the closest amenities, local shops and transport links? What are the opening times.
- How do you get to the closest Tube, train or bus station? Are you comfortable walking along that route? Try it out and make sure it’s Ok for you as you’ll be doing this on a daily basis if you decide to rent this property.
- Is there any security system in place, such as security cameras outside the building or in the common areas, burglar alarm, entry-phone system? Are the external doors well-secured?
If the property comes with a garden or a terrace, it’s worth clarifying a few questions, such as:
- Is the garden or terrace shared? For example, in the case of a rear garden, both flats on the lower ground and ground floor may have access.
- Who is responsible for maintaining space? Generally, this falls under the responsibility of the tenant (unless it is a communcal space) and you will need to add this to your budget.
- How is the outdoor space secured? Who has access to the garden door? Can someone easily jump over the door to the garden from the street?
Ask about the neighbors. Are they a young family with children (in which case you may need to be sensitive about hosting late night parties), young professionals, etc.? If you can, ask the existing tenants or the building’s porter or concierge to find out more.
Inside the property
- Is the property in good condition? Are there any repairs required? In particular, check the flooring (any loose tiles?), windows (do they open and close properly), walls and the furniture.
- Are the windows double-glazed? How good is the insulation? Are the windows secure and do they lock properly?
- Are there any signs of mould? Are there any water stains on the walls or ceilings, that could be an indication of leakage issues? In particular, make sure you check the built-in cupboards if there are any. If there are signs of mould or water stains, it’s important that you get more context around the issue – was it a one-off incident or is this a recurring issue, how has it been fixed, etc. If you suffer from mould allergies, you may decide that this is not the right property for you.
- What heating system is in place? Is there central heating? Some buildings have communal central heating and the heating and hot water are generally included in the rent. Are all the radiators functioning properly? Is there any sign of water leakage on the wall or floor next to any of the radiators?
- Where is the boiler or the water tank located? If you are viewing a 1 bed property, the boiler could be located in the master bedroom (e.g. wardrobe), which can be an issue if you are a light sleeper.
- Are all the taps working properly? Is the water pressure good enough? This is not systematically part of the ‘check-in inventory’ and low water pressure could be the sign of a significant plumbing issue, requiring a lot of work. You should systematically check that everything is in order before making an offer.
- Where are the phone sockets, broadband connection, etc. located? Will you need to get an extension? If so, who will cover these costs?
- Do all the kitchen appliances work? These are generally checked during the ‘check-in inventory’ but it’s best if you can learn in advance of any repairs that are required so that you can include these in your conditions as part of your offer.
- What furniture stays and what goes? If the property is tenanted at the moment of viewing it’s easy to get confused about what you will get when you move into the property and what actually belongs to the current tenant.
Finally, ask about the landlord: who is he/she and what do they do? Do they own several properties or is the one you’re viewing the only one? Do they live locally or abroad? Will they be managing the property? A local landlord may be more inclined to directly deal with any issues in the property, while a landlord based abroad will probably use some form of property management agent. It’s also good to know a bit about the person who owns the home you’re living in.
If possible talk with the existing tenants. Ask about how long they have been living in this property and why they are moving out. Ask them about the landlord and there experience in getting things fixed. Speak with the porter or concierge (if there is one) – they can often be a minefield of information and would know the area and residents very well!