Thursday, 11 August 2011 5:00 PM
If you're planning to property to rent there are many things to bear in mind before you sign up to a contract.
Firstly, you need to make sure you know whether you want a house or flat to rent before you start looking for somewhere new to live.
It is a good idea to write down everything you would like to get out of your accommodation before you begin your search as you may soon discover that you want things you didn't think you would.
Outdoor space may be important to you, for example, or you might put greater emphasis on being near transport links than you initially thought.
Indeed, if good travel networks are important to you, it could be worth getting on a bus, tram or train and testing out the route you will take regularly. You might find that your commute would take too long in one particular area, or you could discover that it is easy.
After you have made a list of requirements, you can ask lettings agents to help you find a property that will suit you best.
Keep an open mind when looking around a place, as it will appear completely different when your belongings are in the property. You might also find that something you weren't originally keen on looks much better in person than it does on paper or on a website.
This might be a good time to think about whether you want a furnished or unfurnished property.
While somewhere that already has all its furnishings means you don't have to worry about buying a bed, wardrobe and sofa, you may find that a place without all this will have a cheaper rent. Taking an unfurnished property also gives you the opportunity to add a personal touch to the building, which you may want if you're planning to stay for some time.
Should the place you like already have furniture, ask the lettings agent whether the landlord is happy to store this elsewhere for the duration of your tenancy.
If this is not possible, then you may have to start your search again or consider renting out a furnished property.
Once you have chosen the place you want to live in, read through the tenancy agreement carefully before signing it.
The first thing to consider is how much the deposit is and under what conditions you will not receive this back once you leave. Landlords ask for this down payment to protect costs should you damage the property so it's important that when you've moved in, you look after the flat or house like it is your own.
This is not only your responsibility as a tenant; it will also increase your chances of getting your deposit back and prevent the landlord from being able to evict you.
Another condition for eviction is failing to meet rental payments, so set up a direct debit to ensure you pay by the deadline every month.
Once you have given a lot of thought to these things, the only thing left to think about is how you can make the property feel like home.