Renting in a busy city or town in peak season can be stressful for anyone. Appointments get cancelled at short notice because somebody has taken the property before you, there can be mishaps with keys and property access issues. It can be a stressful time.
That’s why we thought we would put together a rough guide to renting in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
Booking a viewing
Finding a property online that peaks your interest is one of the fun parts of the renting process. Once you have found a potential candidate for your new pad you can email via the links on the website to organise an appointment or phone the agent’s office.
I would always recommend phoning, especially during busier times. There is no substitute for speaking to a company representative, that way you can ask all the questions you need quickly and get your appointment confirmed.
Don’t be too surprised if the agent asks you a few basic questions for example “are you currently employed” as they have to make sure you are compatible with the property so not to waste your time and their time. A viewing generally costs an agency around £50 to conduct, factoring in time, fuel and parking.
A good tip is to call the agent's office on the morning of your appointment to confirm the viewing is still going ahead to avoid any problems.
Viewing a property
Another fun part…in the beginning, although 8 viewings in a day with different agencies will make your head spin. After multiple viewings, all properties start to bleed into one as far as your memory goes, so it’s a good idea to take some photo’s although remember to ask first.
The agent showing you around should point out the relevant features to the property but don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is your opportunity to gleam as much information to enable you to make an informed decision.
Be prepared for questions. Remember that a Property Manager is hired by the landlord to make sure that the person or persons renting their property are not only financially viable but of good character. Sometimes customers can feel that questions about salary, profession and duration of stay can be quite intrusive so please remember the Property Manager wouldn’t be doing their job if they did not ask.
A property can sometimes be tenanted when you are doing a viewing, if the tenant is present at the time a good tip is to ask them questions. They are usually quite receptive. They will tell you about bills and be in a position to give you more accurate information on some topics than the Property Manager.
Choosing your property
Once you have chosen your property call the agent without delay. You may or may not depending on the agency pay a down payment to secure the property. Remember any down payment is 100% refundable by law if you or the landlord was to back out of the let on or before the commencement date of the lease.
You should never be asked to pay any agency fee or administration charges.
With regards to due diligence and background checking different agents have different procedures so let them guide you, it’s important to act in a timely manner. A nervous agent and landlord will pull the plug on a let if they feel the potential new tenants are not being pro-active.
Conditions of let
So, you have found the right flat and you know what you have to do for the agent in order to secure the property. Now is the time to speak about conditions of let. For example, if the property in question is in need of a lick of paint, now is the time to request this. Don’t move into a property and then expect to have this done, that’s not how this works. You know what they say about assumptions.
If works are badly needed in the property and are refused at this stage it can give you a flavour of the type of landlord or agent you are about to close a deal with so this can be advantageous.
References and affordability
Generally speaking the financial formula for a successful application is the rent x30.
For example, if you want to take a property at a rent of £1000 per month the agent would be looking for you to prove that your salary coming in is at least 30k. Keep this in mind. Rarely do agents deviate from this.
Be prepared to be asked to share copies of documents for due diligence either online or in person. The usual criteria are copies of the last 3 months bank statements, copies of the last 3 months’ pay slips, a copy of a driving license and passport for proof of identification.
As well as the documentation, you will be asked to provide or undergo a credit check, if you are asked to provide a credit check there are good free services such as noddle.co.uk and experian.co.uk that will provide you with an up to date credit rating as well as payment history. Be aware if there are CCJ’s present (county court judgments), defaults or a bankruptcy on your report you are likely going to be asked to provide a financial guarantor or your application will be declined.
Don’t let any of the above put you off, a good agent will make this all seem quite easy and practical.