Mindful Money
Mar 12, 20201 min read

What To Look For When Renting.

Carl Hazeley portrait

by Carl Hazeley

Property prices are soaring – and young people wishing to live in big cities are having to rent in order to do so. Though it’s never been easier to find rental properties – and roommates to fill them – there are still some important things to look out for when renting.

Do your research. Information is your best chance of finding a good deal. The more you know about how much you should be paying, the more easily you can avoid being ripped off. Fortunately, websites like Zoopla in the UK and Zillow in the US have tons of data on properties, so you can accurately gauge prices in your area.

Think small. You might want a big, beautiful place – but try to think about if you actually need one, and if the extra space will be used. It’s a bit pointless paying for a two-bedroom apartment if one room is going to be empty. Bigger isn’t always better – and being frugal can help you save money to use elsewhere.

Location, location, location. Renting often ends up being a tradeoff between price and location, but it doesn’t have to be. Think about what will work best with your commute – there might be a less pricey area with direct transport links to where you need to be.

Avoid fees! A pretty pricey part of renting can be the fees – like those you pay to a broker in exchange for finding you somewhere to live. Brokers sometimes charge both tenants and landlords – so if you can find a way around them, you could try to negotiate cheaper rent. That might mean asking around or looking through Facebook groups and Craigslist ads for direct listings, which might already be cheaper than agent-listed ones. Make sure everything’s above board though: never live somewhere without a legal contract protecting you.

Read the rules. Check that your new place lets you do everything you want to do. See if you’re allowed to put up pictures, move furniture around, or have a pet. And stick to those rules, else you may never see your deposit again…

Know your rights. As a tenant, you have some rights that can’t be violated. In the UK for instance, the property has to be safe, your deposit has to be protected, and agents can’t charge you certain fees. Make sure you know those rights – and be ready to enforce them if necessary – so you’re not ripped off.

Plan for the future. Eventually, you might want to buy a place. That’ll mean saving up while you’re renting so you can put down a deposit, and making sure your credit score’s in good shape. If you’re sharing your rental, you should be careful about having joint bills with your roommates – if their credit scores are bad, that could negatively impact yours.