Few would deny that finding property in London of solid quality and for the right price is quite the ask at the best of times. However, when it comes to trying to go about the process from a foreign country and when English isn’t in fact your native language, things have a habit of becoming all the more complicated.
Now, it’s important to remember than in this day and age it is in fact surprisingly rare to come across a genuinely dodgy landlord with a property of the same nature. It’s just too difficult to get away with unfair service or the letting of a poor property these days, but at the same time there will always be those who operate on a much higher level than others.
So in the instance of an Italian national looking to make the move to London for the first time, what kinds of questions should you be sure to ask any prospective landlord prior to signing any contracts?
What is Not Included In the Rent?
In terms of sorting out the price of the place and what you’ll be paying, this is just about the more important question of all. The reason being that while in some rental properties the rent covers everything, in others it covers far less. From gas to electricity to building maintenance fees to parking charges and so on and so forth, there’s a lot to be taken into account and a great deal that can make what appears to be a great price considerably less realistic. So rather than taking anything for granted, be sure to ask about what the rent covers.
Do You Have the Property’s Gas Safety Certificate?
It’s a legal requirement in the UK for all property owners letting their places out to have their gas installations checked and certified for safety on a regular basis. It’s therefore standard for landlords to hold onto and produce this certificate upon request – those unable or unwilling to do so may be both breaking the law and putting the lives of their tenants at risk. And just for the record, saying they have it isn’t good enough – they need to produce it.
When Were the Appliances Last Changed?
If you are looking to rent a property that already has anything like a washing machine, a cooker, fridge, dryer or anything else across the board, these will all be factors in determining how much rent you pay. As such, it’s important to ask what kind of condition they’re in and when they were last repaired as if they’ve been in use since 1984 and are largely falling to pieces, it’s not fair that you should be expected to both use them and pay for them.
Is the Property Insured?
You’ll need to ensure you have your own insurance in place to cover your own belongings, but at the same time it’s important to ask whether or not the building as a whole is insured. The reason being that without insurance, it may be impossible for the landlord to carry out urgent or major repairs when and where needed…if at all. From broken boilers to electrical issues and structural problems too, insurance is a fundamental essential for any landlord you want to do business with.
Do You Have References?
Any landlord operating in London with a reputation to be proud of will be more than willing to offer details of one or more references to verify their own claims to fame. It’s standard practice for UK tenants to ask for and speak to references (if necessary) prior to signing up with a private landlord, so don’t be afraid to do so. After all, if they refuse your request, this will probably tell you all you need to know about them.
Can I Take Some Time to Think?
Last but not least, it’s of course in your best interests to take some time to think things over – what with the importance of the decision you’ll be making. But at the same time, asking the landlord for a little time to think things over is also a good test of their character and professionalism. You should never for one minute feel as if you are being pressured or hurried into making your decision – respectful and professional landlords do not operate in such a way. As such, even if you’ve pretty much made up your mind already, it’s still a good idea to ask for at least a little time just to gauge how helpful and accommodating or otherwise your prospective new landlord may be.