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House Hunter: Generation Rent

1st June 2011

THE Independent tells today of the arrival of Generation Rent as millions of young adults opt for life as tenants because they can’t afford a home of their own.

The high costs of housing, the problem in getting a mortgage and pessimism about the future is forcing young people to think about a lifetime as a tenant rather than as a homeowner. We’ve become so accustomed to owning our own property that it’s difficult to write such a story without the suggestion that life as a tenant is just one step away from life on the street! But as The Independent points out, many countries are quite happy with such an existence.

So where to start on the hunt for the perfect rental home? The Independent online property search includes a filter for homes to rent but essentially you’ll be choosing between a private landlord or a letting agent. Whichever route you choose, the legal rights of a tenant are stronger than the dark days of the past but you still need to take sensible precautions.

Begin with a wish list – where you would like your home to be, what size, what facilities etc etc. Then draw up a shortlist of potential flats or homes you want to visit. What questions are you going to ask your landlord? A chat with anyone who has rented a home in the past is likely to reveal a few glitches that could have been avoided by asking the right questions up front. Here’s a few you may wish to consider:

  • What are all the costs involved in renting this property? (ie what are the hidden costs!)
  • What type of heating/hot water does the accommodation have?
  • How often is the rent reviewed?
  • Will the landlord expect to just walking into ‘your’ house at any time or will he phone in advance? And who else has keys to the property?
  • Can you keep pets?
  • Is smoking a problem?
  • Can you decorate the home as you desire and can you claim any of the costs back from the landlord?