Seen a place to rent online that takes your fancy? Here are the main things you need to know and ask – before you sign on the dotted line.

Here at Clarity Property Management, we aim to support tenants in the same way as we do our landlords: professionally, and with equal amounts of courtesy and consideration. 

Reliable, consistent tenants support our business, after all. 

Renting – A Positive Choice

Renting a property rather than buying it is increasingly popular. Let’s be fair, becoming a homeowner isn’t easy these days. 

Post-budget, the extension of the stamp duty holiday created an abrupt spike in the demand for houses and flats.  Whilst property prices will probably settle down, everything has suddenly got rather expensive.

So, renting makes good sense. The rental market – not least around Brighton and Hove, offers high-quality housing maintained to a high standard.  It’s a positive choice, rather than a compromise.

Without going into too much detail, your status as a tenant in 2021 is stronger than ever.  New legislation obliging your landlord to keep you safe and legally protected drops into the statute books on a regular basis.  We don’t have a problem with this, of course – looking after tenants is a work in progress, and the Clarity team will make sure that everything happens when it needs to.

The Rented Property Sector in Brighton, Hove and Sussex

In brief, demand currently outstrips supply.   

This is a highly desirable area, with many DFLs (that’s “Down from London”), making a beeline to the south cost for their new working-from-home bases.  If you view a property you love, don’t hang around.  Get that holding deposit paid as soon as possible.

You snooze, you lose.  But – and this is important – don’t get carried away. 

Your dream home may not turn out to be so dreamy if you don’t have all the essential facts. We’ve put together this useful checklist to help you build a full picture.

By the way, we’re assuming that you’re going to be aware of the rent, and when it’s due; also, the deposit, and a holding deposit if there is one.  By law, your deposit has to be held in a government registration scheme, and you’ll be told what this is.

1. How long is the tenancy?

The most common form of tenancy is Assured Short Hold, or AST.  These tenancies are fixed term, generally for either 6 or 12 months.  That is, you will have to carry on paying rent for the stated minimum amount of time, even if you give notice and move out – unless the Agent or Landlord finds another tenant.

Also, it’s worth confirming what’s going to happen after this fixed period ends.  That is, will it roll over into something called a periodic tenancy?; an agreement without a fixed end date but which continues on a month-by-month basis until either you end it – or your landlord does.

Finally, there may be an “official” start date.  Don’t forget to ask, so that you can start planning your moving in schedule.

2. What’s included in the rent?

You should have this information already, but it’s worth checking. 

If bills aren’t included in your monthly rent (and mostly, they aren’t), this could have an effect on your outgoings and get in the way of some tidy budgeting.  So, check out the situation regarding utilities as soon as possible.  Sharing with other tenants? Again, think about how you’re going to be splitting payments. 

Another top tip that relates to this point.  The furniture you see at the property may belong to the tenants moving out.  The property details will confirm whether it’s unfurnished, part-furnished or fully furnished – but you never know, so do ask what’s staying and what’s going.

3. How much is the council tax?

A heads up here: rates can vary enormously.  As you’re aware, properties fall under different council tax valuation bands, and you could end up paying a significant amount more on top of your rent.  If you’re not sure, or your landlord doesn’t know, try checking out www.gov.uk/countil-tax for some up to date information.

4. Can I drill holes in the wall to hang up pictures? May I decorate?

Mostly, the answer is going to be no.  Your landlord will be responsible, via Clarity, for internal (and external) maintenance, including painting the walls, or changing the décor. 

However, do ask.  Some landlords may be more flexible on this one (but you definitely don’t want to lose your deposit just for the sake of personalising your new flat)

5. How good is the broadband here? And the TV signal?

Brighton and Hove is fairly good in this regard, but again it’s worth enquiring.  Some more rural areas haven’t yet quite caught up with lightning-speed internet. 

If you’re into your streaming services, like to download movies, or do the gaming thing you’ll be responsible for the installation and bills for high-speed broadband (if you need this). 

6. Who are the neighbours and what are they like?

Difficult question, this one. Maybe the agent or the landlord will know who’s living immediately in your proximity. 

You don’t want to be living above or below a bunch of 24-hour party people if you value a good night’s sleep – which let’s face it is all of us. Similarly, what sort of household are you going to be?  We can’t imagine you honing your skills to be a drummer in a rock band will be too popular first thing on a Sunday morning. 

Just saying.

7. What’s the local area like?

Ask about amenities, local supermarkets and transport.  Plus, schools, gyms, parks – anything that’s important to you.  If you have your own car, how easy is it to park?  Brighton and Hove mostly has a parking permit system, and some areas have a waiting list. 

In our view, it’s worth questioning if the area is well lit at night, and whether you’re going to feel safe walking back to the property at night. 

Likewise, you may love the idea of a local pub just over the road.  Until that is, you’re trying to get some rest before a busy day.  It’s amazing how some folks just love to bellow farewell greetings to each other at midnight after a few lager sherbets.  Amazingly annoying, that is.

So, there you are.  Just writing this, we’re aware that we could offer even more guidance and advice than these 7 essential questions.  Look out for further blogs on this subject – we want to help you to move into your new home fully informed.  And, to love living there.

Of course, we’re just a phone call away if you’d like some guidance, or you’re on the lookout for a property to rent.  Get in touch with Clarity Property Management on 01273 253 000

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