/ Flat Hunting advice

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IMA - on 04 Jan 2013
Over the next weekend or two I am off to look at flats. Any advice on questions or what to look out for?

All my past locations have been owned by family and friends or were owned by the company I work for so never had the need to look or ask questions.

Thanks for any advice
Mooncat - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to IMA:

Hope your not doing it with hounds, I think it's illegal now.
EeeByGum - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to IMA: These days, agents seem quite happy to sting potential renters for several hundred quid on top of deposits and the like to do things like background checks etc. Prices vary so if I were you, I would ring up prospective agents before you hit the ground to find out what their charges are and then target the cheapest. All agents are shit so don't feel you will be getting a substandard service by going for the cheapest option. If you can find people letting privately through local papers or the internet, that is certainly going to be the cheapest option.

Finally, never sign or hand over cash for a flat at the actual flat address as there are various scams attached to this. Always do the paperwork at the landlord's house or office.

Good luck - I don't envy you.

PS Oh - and when you move in, check the inventory like a hawk and photograph absolutely everything including the state of the windows preferably with the agent present. Feel free to update the inventory about dirty windows or blemishes on the carpets / floor etc. Having part of your deposit retained for things like window cleaning and other non-essential maintainance jobs that will not be done is also sadly quite common.
IMA - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to EeeByGum: Thanks, you make it sound so much fun I cannot wait to visit X amount of places now

Though thank you for the advice, time to go back to spareroom etc and create a shortlist
jonny taylor on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to IMA:
If you are travelling some distance to view these, or your time is otherwise precious, arrange more viewings than you think you need/want. I had a less than 50% success rate from seeing an ad I was interested in to actually getting to see the place on the day I asked.
Justin T - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to IMA:

If possible go private, agents are universally scum money-suckers. Check Gumtree and the like for private landlords. If you must use an agent then advice above is good, photograph everything before you move in etc.

Last two places we've been in have been via Gumtree and much better experiences than have had through agents in the past.
Sarah G on 04 Jan 2013 - [zen-inetgw-9b.nhs.uk]
In reply to Mooncat:
Nope, you'll find it is huning of mammals with dogs that is illegal. That covers ratting, as well as the more emotinve stuff like recognised field sports such as foxhunting and hare coursing.

I think the flat hunting is safe, though.

IMA - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to Sarah G: I'll take the gun dogs then,give the pair of em some entertainment.

Thanks Jonny, was intending to go see like 8 places on Saturday or Sunday. How long did you give each viewing?
jonny taylor on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to IMA:

> How long did you give each viewing?

I put them half an hour apart to allow for (walking) travel between them, me/agent being 5 mins late, them struggling to get the keys to work (...you'd be surprised!). In practice I don't think I ever spent more than 10 minutes before deciding the place was probably not my #1 choice, though that obviously completely depends on what type and size of place you are looking at.

Because you end up having to leave conservative gaps, may have cancellations, etc, it's tough if you're in a different city with nowhere to base yourself. I booked into a cheap hotel for TWO nights which meant I had somewhere to go back to in the larger gaps between viewings.
Wingnut - on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
>>check the inventory like a hawk

I once had an inventory - from a lettings agency rather than a private landlord, and hence presumably written by someone who had to write quite a lot of them - with more spelling mistakes than actual words. Gems included the word "floor" spelt three different ways on the same page, and, of the bathroom, "tiolet systeme as craces".

(Sod's Law says there's a spelling mistake of my own somewhere in the above. :
cuppatea on 04 Jan 2013
In reply to IMA:

Wait till you see the whites of their eyes and make the first shot count.

There's nothing so dangerous as a wounded flat.
CĂș Chullain - on 04 Jan 2013
Contrary to some of the hysterics on here having worked in a previous life time as an estate agent I can honestly say they are not all out to 'get you'. Yes, you get crappy agents but also good ones, the latter are easy enough to find, check them out online for positive service feedback. At the very least they should be ARLA registered which ties them to some form of basic conduct and gives you an avenue if you need to complain.

Large deposits (6 to 8 weeks rent) are often required these days as there was a growing trend by some tenants of not paying their final months rent and telling the agent to 'take it out of my deposit'. This would be fine if it were not for the fact that flat would often look like downtown Mogadishu and would costs hundreds to clean up or fix. Most flats are not owned by some evil baby eating mega corp, they are privately owned by individuals who understandably want their assets looked after and they pay a fee to the agent to ween out the undesirables. That process takes time and effort while they check references, financial and otherwise to see that the tenant has been a good boy/girl in the past. Credit reference agencies charge quite a bit for searches, these costs are passed on to you. The one thing you can query is the cost of 'preparing the rental agreement'. 99% of the time this is a standard document where you pretty much fill in the blanks with your name etc. Dont fall for any bullshit about their legal team 'drafting' the documents. Also, do read the contract, it used to stagger me how many people would sign contracts without reading them. They usually come in two parts, a bit outlining the landlords responsibilities (i.e leaving you in peace, carrying out repairs etc) and your responsibilites (paying the rent on time and no processing of nuclear waste in the basement etc). Read it all.

Dont go into the process with a confrontational attitude, it really does not help.

Good luck

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