When you are viewing a house to rent rather than buy, you're not just looking at a pile of bricks and mortar - remember that it could be your home for the foreseeable future.
Of course you will have an instant emotional reaction, but you should balance this with a rational assessment of living there, including the local area and amenities, the condition of the property both inside and out and any associated costs.
Your own priorities will vary depending on whether you're viewing houses, flats, studio flats or just rooms, but this checklist should act as a basic guide to help keep all your bases covered.
Viewing checklist 1: The outside
- Is the outside of the property in good condition?
- Is the property secure - including windows and external doors (check the quality of the locks)? Is there an entry-phone system and burglar alarm? And has it ever been burgled or damaged?
- Is there a garden? And who is responsible for the maintenance?
- What is the local area like? Are your preferred amenities and transport links within easy reach?
- Are there any potential nuisances or red flags - passing traffic noise, a nearby nightclub, situated right on a busy corner?
- What are the neighbours like?
Viewing checklist 2: The inside
- Are there signs of damp, flaking paint or infestations of any kind?
- Are repairs required?
- Is any furniture unsafe, broken or damaged in any way?
- Is there central heating? Do all the radiators function properly? Is there air conditioning?
- Is there hot water, and good water pressure?
- Is it properly insulated, draught-free, and double-glazed?
- Is there enough storage space?
- Is there any sign of dodgy wiring, loose wires or faulty plugs or lights?
- Do kitchen appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers work?
- Are there enough kitchen cupboards and work surfaces?
- Are pots, pans and kitchen equipment in good condition? (if the home comes furnished)
- Are the bedrooms adequately heated? Are there curtains?
- Check the bathroom(s) and make sure taps are not leaking. Does the shower work properly?
- Does the toilet flush and do the bath and sinks drain adequately?
- Are the sealants around the bath and shower intact?
- Are you allowed to redecorate?
- Are there enough electrical and telephone points, and are they in the right places for your needs?
Viewing checklist 3: Safety checks
- Do all appliances function safely?
- Do the mainfloor windows have locks?
- Is there an alarm?
- Is there a fire blanket and fire extinguisher in the kitchen?
- Are there carbon monoxide detectors present (a carbon monoxide alarm is legally required in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance)?
- Are there enough smoke alarms? Do they work?
- Is there an easy means of escape in the event of a fire?
Viewing checklist 4: Financial considerations
- How much is the rent and what is included?
- What other bills are there and what are you liable to pay?
- How much of a deposit is required? What are the conditions for the landlord deducting money from the deposit?
- What are the estimated running costs of the property?
- Can you comfortably afford the rent on top of the deposit and running costs?
Viewing checklist 5: General considerations if you decide to proceed
- If anything needs to be repaired, ask the landlord in writing.
- If the landlord agrees to make repairs, ask them to agree it in writing.
- Double-check the inventory before you move in.
- Get a copy of the tenancy agreement and make sure you fully understand it.
- Keep your own signed copy of the tenancy agreement.
- Ask previous tenants about their experience of the landlord and the property.
- Check and note all meter readings on the day you move in.