Last reviewed: December 2020
It goes without saying that things are operating differently this year. You should always check government coronavirus guidance in your area and take this guidance into consideration when reading any content such as the below.
Do you know what to ask when viewing a house to rent? Moving into a shared house is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking! We've put together some questions to ask when viewing a house to ensure you’re fully prepared.
What expenses are included, and what is extra?
Are bills included in the rent? If so, which ones? Moving into a shared house means you may need to come to an agreement about paying bills with the other tenants. Make sure you get all the facts about what you will and won’t be responsible for, ensuring you factor all of these into your budget before you sign any contract.
How much is the deposit and when does it have to be paid?
This is one of the most important house viewing questions. Before you commit to anything, find out exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay upfront and by when. Ensure the deposit is protected through a Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
What transport links are available?
This is an important one, as it will affect your day to day life. If it’s not within walking distance of your uni then make sure you find out what the public transport is like, and, if there’s a bus, whether you can use your student card for discount. If you’ll need to get public transport or use a car, make sure you consider this when reviewing your overall budget.
What is the local area like?
Where are the nearest supermarkets? Are there any bars or restaurants nearby? Take a look around the area, both during the day and in the evening, to see what you can find and really get a feel for what it would be like to live there.
Can you talk to any current tenants?
If the current tenants are in when you view the house, take advantage of the opportunity to ask them some questions. Have they had any problems with damp? Is everything in good working order? Is the landlord quick at sorting out any issues? How convenient is the location? How thin are the walls?
Can you see a copy of the tenancy agreement you’ll have to sign?
Before you sign any papers, make sure you read through the tenancy agreement carefully and ask any questions before you write your signature. Is it clear what the terms are and what the consequences are if either you or the landlord breaks any of the terms? If you are in any doubt or you’d like a second opinion, check with your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Who is your point of contact if something goes wrong?
It could be the landlord, the letting agent, or someone who works for the landlord. Either way, if your heating suddenly stops working or you spot a leak, you’ll want to know who to call – and quickly!
How do I get my deposit back?
There should be some basic wear and tear allowed over the tenancy period, but overall you will be expected to leave the property in the exact same condition as you found it. This should result in you hopefully getting your deposit back at the end of the tenancy.
You should check before you move in if the house will be professionally cleaned – if it is, it’s likely you’ll be responsible for the same level of cleaning when you leave. This may mean you’ll need to shampoo the carpets, paint over any marks on the wall or pay towards a professional cleaner.
When you complete your inventory, ensure it captures everything that is broken/damaged/stained before you move in. Also be sure to check standard fittings are in place. Sometimes the landlord will provide you with photographs of how the property looks before you move in, and if they don’t, it may be helpful to take your own.
If you decide to stay next year, when will you need to let them know by?
If you pick the property, are happy living there and decide you don't want the hassle of finding a new place to live next year, it’s worth finding out from your letting agent when the deadline is to request a tenancy extension. Otherwise they may start looking for new tenants and may even arrange viewings. Make sure you know your notice period too if you do decide to move out.
Moving into a shared house is nerve-wracking, so put your mind at ease by considering taking out tenants insurance. You can protect your contents from £3,000 to £80,000 with up to £2,500 tenants’ liability cover included as standard.