Regardless of whether you are looking to buy or rent a London flat, it's easy to get carried away in the moment on a viewing and forget to ask some key questions.
From establishing details on who to contact in an emergency to clarity on rent payments and utility bills, there are a whole host of crucial questions to ask landlords when renting.
Questions to ask
1. Who is my main point of contact?
While the landlord may choose to show you around the property, to scope you out and get to know you, once you signed the tenancy agreement and moved in, it's important to know who you should contact in an emergency.
Most London landlords use a lettings agent management service to look after their properties, so it's important to establish who you should get in touch with should you need to.
2. What's included in the rent?
London rental properties are sometimes advertised as furnished or part-furnished. If you view a flat with the current tenants still in place, it can be difficult to know what comes with the property and what belongs to the tenants.
Ask the landlord to explain what you get with the flat, so you know what you'll need to provide and what to take extra care of during the tenancy.
3. Who will be paying the bills?
While the majority of tenancies state the tenant is responsible for payment of things like gas, electric and council tax, it's well worth asking the landlord to clarify this.
When working out if a London flat is affordable to rent, knowing what your other outgoings are likely to be is vital.
Some landlords will be open to negotiation on certain things, so asking for WiFi to be included in your rent is not as cheeky as you might think!
4. Am I allowed to redecorate?
Again, this is not as cheeky as you might think. If you are viewing a London flat that has been subjected to several tenancies without redecoration, a landlord may jump at the chance if you ask to give the walls a lick of paint.
As with anything, though, establish clearly who is responsible for paying for things like paint or wallpaper and get your landlord's guidance on what would be acceptable... not every landlord will like bright pink walls after all!
5. Am I allowed a pet in the property?
This can often be a huge point of tension between a landlord and tenant. So, establishing the rules before signing a tenancy agreement is crucial.
A London flat will almost certainly be a leasehold purchase for the landlord, which means they will have to abide by the terms of the lease. That could mean a ban on pets.
If you're set on bringing your pet pooch to live with you, knowing if this is possible early on could save both you and the landlord wasted time.
6. Am I responsible for outdoor space?
Outdoor space? In London? Yes, it might seem unlikely in the case of rented flats, but outdoor space is possible in some areas of London.
If you're lucky enough to be viewing a property with a small garden or courtyard, ensure you ask the landlord who is responsible for maintaining it.
Failure to do so as a tenant when your responsibility is stated in the tenancy agreement could see some or your deposit deducted for maintenance costs at the end of the tenancy.
7. When was the boiler last serviced?
Emergencies do happen during tenancies. It's just a fact.
So, as we mentioned earlier, knowing who to contact is key.
But establishing the likelihood of something going wrong early on can help, so make sure you ask the landlord when the property's boiler was last serviced.
If it's an ageing boiler that is on its last legs, you might want to suggest the landlord replaces it before agreeing to take on the tenancy.
8. Who are my neighbours?
Even if you are London's biggest party animal, you still need your beauty sleep.
So, if your neighbours are notoriously noisy in the small hours of the morning, you'll want to know.
Ask your landlord about the people who live in the building. Are they young professionals, families or elderly people? This will help you establish early on if the property is right for you.
9. What is the area like?
If you are new to London, knowing as much as you can about the area you are looking to live in is crucial.
Ask your landlord how far the Tube station is and whether it's safe to walk from the station to the flat at night.
Ask the landlord for advice on the best places to go for a drink or something to eat. As well as being crucial information for you, showing an interest in your landlord's local knowledge will help you build a rapport with them.
10. Does the property have parking and do I have to pay for it?
Along with outdoor space, another rare London sight is a rental flat with parking. But they do exist!
If the property does have a parking space, clarify whether or not you need to pay for it and if guests can use any other spaces.
If your potential new rental home only has street parking, again it's important for your budget that you establish if there is an annual charge.
Where to rent in London
The best thing about London is how different it is from area to area.
There are areas to suit all budgets and needs when it comes to transport links, entertainment, schools and employment.
Whatever you are looking for from your next rental property, Ellis & Co can help. We have branches across the capital, including in: