The Renters' Checklist : 21 Things to Ask / Look for When Viewing a Rental Property in the UK
Updated: Mar 7
As a youth homelessness prevention and crisis relief charity, we support young people in Coventry to make smart housing decisions every day.
Moving into a new place can be both exciting and daunting. Whether your looking to move into your first property or are seeking a refresher on what to look out for, our list will help you set yourself up for success.
Let's jump straight in!
#1 - What kind of heating/boiler does it have?
And how old (or efficient) is it? - Combi boilers are generally more efficient and you always have hot water on demand. Most boilers are replaced every 10-15 years as their efficiency reduces.
#2 - What kind of cooker does the property have?
Does it fit with what you want in terms of running costs, efficiency and ease of cleaning?
Gas hobs give you instant heat, but are generally hard to clean.
Electric hobs take a while to heat up but are easier to clean.
In terms of ovens – fan ovens tend to reach temperature quicker, and heat is distributed evenly-ish throughout.
#3 - Where are the meters?
Check you have your own meters (gas and electric) and take photos of the meters the day you move in, so you don’t get billed for previous usage
Electric usually inside
Gas may be outside or inside
#4 - How do you access your flat and get your post?
Do you have your own front door or is it shared? Where is your mail put and is it secure?
#5 - Are there any signs of dampness or mould?
Look out for musty or damp smells, stained patches or mould on walls, rotting around wooden fixtures like skirting boards, a lot of condensation on windows, peeling wallpaper or high humidity in the property.
#6 - Are there property service charges?
Find out how much they are and exactly what they cover. Some may cover things like utility bills, broadband internet access and laundry facilities.
#7 - What changes can you make to the property?
We all like to put our own stamp on our homes, however, when you rent you can only make changes within the parameters agreed upon by your landlord. Some landlords will allow you to repaint ( as long as colours are neutral or painted over with a neutral colour when you leave), meanwhile others may stipulate that nothing is to be hung on the walls.
#8 - What are the pet rules?
If you have a pet or are considering getting a pet it's worth asking this question. Some properties might have a strict no-pet policy, some may be happy for tenants to have one small pet, meanwhile, some properties may stipulate that you are allowed a pet as long as you check it is ok with the landlord first.
Remember generally speaking renters are responsible for any damage to a property above the level of normal wear and tear. So if your pet causes damage to the property, you may be responsible for fixing it, or the cost of repairs may be deducted from your deposit at the end of the tenancy.
#9 - Does the property have a water meter fitted or could you get one fitted if you wanted to?
Water meters measure your exact water usage.
Properties without a water meter get charged at an estimated rate
If you don’t use a lot of water a meter may work out cheaper for you, but if you do the estimated average charge may be better.
Note after 12 months you can no longer get the water meter removed
#10 - Which bills are you responsible for?
Some landlords may include some utility bills in the rent or with the addition of a service charge. It's important to check which bills you are responsible for. Common property-related bills include:
Gas & Electric
Broadband and phone
Home / Content Insurance
TV licence and /or TV packages e.g. sky
If you are a young person (16-25 years old) living in Coventry and want support around understanding or setting up your utility bills we can help. Call
07943688760, fill out our contact form or come to one of our drop-in sessions for support.
#11 - How much is the property's council tax
As of January 2023 council tax bands in Coventry ranged from £1153.02 ( approx. £96.06 a month) a year to £4150.91 (approx.; £345.90 a month). Therefore, it is really important to ask how much council tax is for the property and to check whether you can afford it.
#12 - Who are the utility suppliers & can you switch?
Right now the energy crisis means it is unlikely that one company will be significantly cheaper than another, however, in the future this will most likely change. You don't want to get stuck paying expensive energy rates as this will reduce the amount of income you have left each month after bills.
If you are a young person in Coventry and need support understanding or setting up your utility bills call us on 07943688760, fill in our contact form or come into one of our drop-in sessions.
#13 - What furnishings does the property come with?
Properties come fully, semi or unfurnished.
If it’s furnished or semi-furnished ask at the viewing which of the furniture you can see belongs to the property – some may belong to the current tenant.
If the property is still to be furnished, asked what furniture will be included.
If you are a young person in Coventry, and you are worried because you are renting a property, but can not afford basic furnishings or appliances ( a bed, chest of draws, sofa, fridge-freezer, oven, kettle, toaster or a washing machine) get in contact with us. We may be able to give you one or help you apply for grants to get them.
#14 - Ask to see the property’s EPC if it wasn’t on the listing
An EPC is an energy performance certificate showing the energy efficiency of the home.
A-rated properties are the most efficient and least expensive to run
Legally the property must be E-rated or higher.
#15 - What is your level of responsibility for communal or outdoor areas like gardens and shared hallways?
For some properties, you will be expected to clean and maintain communal areas like corridors, kitchens and bathrooms. Other properties may employ cleaners to regularly deep clean communal areas, requiring you to top-up clean in between. Some landlords may expect you to maintain the garden or will make you aware of the intervals at which they will come and maintain it.
#16 - What's the parking situation?
If you drive it's super important to find this out, and you will have to negotiate whatever the parking provision is most days. However, it's also worth asking if you are going to have visitors who drive, and to inform removal companies about the best places to park on your moving day.
#17 - How much is the deposit? Is it affordable for you and is it legal?
The deposit amount in the UK is legally capped at 5 weeks of rent, or 6 weeks if annual property rent is £50,000 or above.
Your deposit should be protected under a government-approved deposit protection scheme and you should receive paperwork for this.
If you are a young person (aged 16-25) in Coventry and have any concerns, worries about legitimacy, or questions about any of your tenancy paperwork you are welcome to contact Bardsley for advice and guidance or bring your paperwork to our weekly drop-in sessions at Bardsley House.
#18 - You should be able to see a valid gas safety certificate
Gas safety certificates should have the date they are issued on. A property should have a new gas safety check and a certificate issued every 12 months. This is to ensure that the property is safe from risks such as gas leaks which could be fatal or hazardous to your health.
#19 - Ask who you should contact about any problems at the property
If something goes wrong a the property you need to know who to contact. This is usually the landlord or letting agent. If something major needs fixing you may also need to contact the landlord or letting agent to get approval for work to go ahead. It's also helpful to have their contact details in case you need to ask how something works e.g. the boiler or alert them to a problem they need to rectify e.g. a fire alarm going off that can not be turned off by the residents throughout an HMO.
#20 - If you are looking at an HMO does the property have an HMO license?
An HMO licence is something your landlord must apply for and purchase from the local council. It means that your landlord has more responsibilities than in a normal privately rented property – as several unrelated persons are sharing the same space, and responsibility does not lie with one tenant.
#21 - Is there anything else I need to know?
If you are being shown around by a landlord you have to hope that they are honest and let you know of any downside of the property. They will probably be keen to tell you all the perks and let you know the rules of the property.
If you are being shown around by an estate agent, they have likely made their own assessment of it before taking it on. A great estate agent will be upfront about these and will tell you things now to prevent problems down the line. However, this isn't always the case, but you can ask!
Anything to add?
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Remember if you are a young person in Coventry (aged 16-25) who is looking at renting, Bardsley Youth Project is available to you if you need any support with the process or equipping your property. Click here to find out more about the support we provide.