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How to Rent a Flat with or without Agents

This comprehensive guide takes you through the entire process of obtaining your flat from search to selection. Teaching you how to rent a flat without an agent.

by The Gravity Team

We’ve all heard the apartment horror stories of moving into ghastly flats, health hazards, and sketchy landlords. From finding, applying, moving in, to living in your apartment there are many things to consider. It’s important to be aware of all the individual details and requirements of each step, to ensure that no one can take advantage of you throughout the process. Whether you decide to rent a flat without an agent, rent from landlords directly, rent a studio flat or a house the basics and know-how remain the same. So without further ado, here are the most important things to note about how to rent your flat, to ensure that you complete this process as smoothly as possible. 

 

Searching for Your Flat

Nowadays, the majority of flat listings are posted and updated online, which is ideal. As it lets you receive notifications when something of interest appears and filter according to your preferences. There are many various platforms tailored to your needs and available to aid you in your search. Spareroom is ideal if you are looking not for an entire flat, but an individual room available along with flatmates. Gumtree, is akin to Craigslist in the USA, while it boasts much flat availability you should be aware of scams. Rightmove, Zoopla, and Movebubble are all noteworthy and trustworthy websites that post listings, the latter agency being London specific. Utilizing the filters while on these platforms is advised because it allows you to begin narrowing down listings that are suitable for you. Therefore, important things to consider before you even begin looking at flats are the number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, property type, proximity to public transport, commute time, parking, pet friendliness, outdoor space, and kitchen amenities. Addressing these important issues, will shorten your search time and save you from disappointments of wasting time on unsuitable flats. With the rise of coronavirus, more websites offer virtual viewing allowing potential tenants to explore the entire living space which is great before booking a viewing.


Searching for a house I Gravity

 

Viewing Your Flat

When viewing potential properties, it’s advisable to take photos at each property. This will allow you to best compare flats later, without having to rely on memory. If the place is currently occupied or furnished, don’t forget to ask questions about which furniture you can keep. It’s best to inventory everything that is existing in the apartment, as well as with photos, and in writing, to ensure that no issues arise when you move in or out. When browsing flats, always check the ‘dark spaces’, spaces that people forget to check, such as under furniture or in cupboards, to assess their condition. If any maintenance is required in the flat, make sure that the repairs are scheduled or that they are included in your contract for the landlord to deal with. The questions you ask are also essential such as: what is the neighborhood like? When is the flat available? What kind of security deposit does the landlord require? Who are the neighbours?

 

Deposit Fees

If you’ve successfully viewed and found your apartment, then congratulations you’re in the final stage. Not that this stage is the most fun, but it is the most important. Making sure you understand your rights and responsibilities, is essential. If your salary is below 50,000 pounds the maximum holding deposit you can legally pay is 5 weeks rent, whereas if your salary is above 50,000 you can pay a maximum of 6 weeks rent. This deposit must be refundable at the end of your tenancy agreement, conditional on the state of the flat. Your deposit should be protected under a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme during your tenancy, be sure to ask which scheme and how long after your departure to get your deposit back. You should be skeptical of any other fees that an agency or landlord may ask you to pay in advance, as fees such as viewing fees, and tenancy fees are banned. To protect you from illegal fees, you can consult this government article on which fees are permitted. 

 

Viewing house I Gravity

 

Agencies vs Landlord

Another question to address is whether you wish to use a letting agency or not. If you decide to utilize an estate agent, never forget that they are working for the landlord to find a tenant and not for you. The letting agency you work with belongs to a professional body to ensure that they’re upholding rules and regulations, bodies such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) ensure this. Letting agents invoke extra fees as you search for your dream home, charging around 5-8% of your annual rent. Contrary to this, you could work with a private landlord. Working with a private landlord doesn’t guarantee the same safety and security as a professional real estate agent, so you must be knowledgeable of certain things. If the landlord is not the property owner, be hesitant about unlawful subletting. As well as this, ask if they have a mortgage, as you might have to leave if they miss a mortgage payment. Whichever route you choose, always read the contract details carefully, ensuring that you understand your rights and responsibilities. The UK government has published a model contract to aid you in your apartment search.  

 

Join Gravity!

If that process sounded too long and tedious, Gravity Co-Living is a hassle-free suitable alternative. Gravity is a co-living community, with a strong emphasis on the word community. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, with our flats and shared spaces designed with that in mind. The process of application and moving in is a breeze. Our website hosts 360-degree viewings of all of the flats and the application for a room takes only one minute. If approved by our community manager you can move in within hours! With Gravity Co-Living your next dream home is at your fingertips.