What questions should I ask when going to look at a flat to rent?
August 15, 2013 1:24 PM   Subscribe

What questions should I ask when going to look at a flat to rent?

(Living in the UK.) So..... after moving out from my folks' place, I went to uni and shared a flat with four people I'd never met before for a year, which was then repeated for the second and third year of uni. Those were some bad times; not getting on with them and having people steal my shampoo/conditioner all the damn time. I also like to keep my living space tidy, which none of them seemed to do.

I have most recently been living as a lodger in a friend's flat and have done so for the last 19 months. We get on as friends really well, but recently his girlfriend moved in and it has since gone rather pear-shaped. Thus I now don't really enjoy living there/here now.

I've got a couple of flat/studio apartment viewings next week for a place to live alone (I'm a single guy and don't wish to share with anyone (bar a girlfriend) now. However, I've never lived alone and have no idea what kinds of questions I should be asking whilst viewing potential places to live. Can you guys list some important questions that I should ask please. (Thanks in advance.)
posted by sockpim to Work & Money (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What is the rent? What is the deposit?
How long can you lease? Does this change the rent?
Are the utilities included? What ones? How much is an average utility bill?
Is smoking permitted? Where?
If you have a car, ask about parking - where, how much does it cost, availability, special permits?
Not questions, but check out your cell phone reception, and the number/location of electrical outlets.
posted by florencetnoa at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2013

What are the extra fees (especially in London, often a lot)?
Does the building have insurance?
Is it furnished?
posted by katrielalex at 1:35 PM on August 15, 2013

Does it have bedbugs?

No, seriously, has anyone ever even complained about bedbugs?

If I ring a random bell and ask if anyone here ever had bedbugs, are they going to tell me the same thing you did?

(Then you do that.)
posted by griphus at 2:30 PM on August 15, 2013

I like to talk to the neighbors first.

You can find out if:
The police are frequently in the area
If there are loud parties
If someone never leaves their flat and is super quiet
If someone always hits parked cars when the handlebars of their bike
If someone has eight noisy kids in a two bedroom unit
If someone cleans common areas even in front of 'your' place to keep the area clean
If someone picks flowers from other peoples yard/planters
Noisy dogs barking every night

Odd things, but there may be something that will drive you crazy later...
posted by Leenie at 2:40 PM on August 15, 2013

In addition to what's been posted so far...

I always like to turn on the faucets and flush the toilets to check the water pressure.

Ask about pests, history of pest problems.

Are pets allowed? Which species, how many, what will it cost you.

How old is the fridge/other appliances?

Where is the breaker box?

I also like to knock on the doors and see if a neighbor is home, and ask them (while the landlord/manager is off doing something else, like trying to locate the breaker box) if they enjoy living there.

Check for two means of egress and the nearest fire extinguisher.
posted by phunniemee at 2:40 PM on August 15, 2013

Make sure you see the actual unit. I looked at places where we could see a model unit but not the one we would live in. Um, no.
posted by radioamy at 3:21 PM on August 15, 2013

Best answer: What happens if you have to move out before the end of your contract? (IME the usual thing is that you're on the hook for rent and council tax until the end of the contract or until a new tenant moves in, whichever happens first.)

What happens after the end of the initial contract: do you have to commit to another year, does it go to a month-to-month arrangement, or is it somewhere in between?

If it's anything other than month-to-month, how far in advance of the end of the contract do you have to decide whether to renew?

Are there flat inspections, and if so, how often are they conducted?

You might also, depending on your lifestyle, want to ask things like: Are there restrictions on overnight guests? (For instance, I'm not allowed to have the same person stay for more than 14 nights in a year without notifying my landlord.) Are you allowed to move the furniture? Can you put up picture hooks? Are there restrictions on how long you can be away for? Is there cable/satellite?

If the current tenant is there when you look round then you can ask about things like noise from neighbours, what the area's like, if there's anything they've particularly liked or disliked about the place - but if the landlord or letting agent is there too, that may well affect the answers you get.

Finally, I realise you didn't ask about things to look out for, but you might find this list useful:

Check that each room has a sensible number of electric sockets... my first flat, a two-bedroom, had six sockets in total. Check that the flat has heating (radiators are generally better than electric storage heaters; timers and central thermostats are really useful things) and double glazing: poorly heated and/or single-glazed rooms are miserable to be in during the winter. Look for signs of damp: patches of wavy plaster; tidemarks or other discolouration in the paint; actual mould or fungus (there's almost bound to be some mould on the grouting in the bathroom, but anywhere else is a worry); a dank smell. Look out of the windows: do you like what you see, will it be noisy at night, is there a streetlight right outside the bedroom window? If you have allergies: how old are the carpets? Is there a shower or just a bath? Are there extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, or will you need to leave windows open for ventilation? Does the kitchen have enough storage space and enough counter space? Are the appliances (cooker, washing machine, fridge) reasonably modern and big enough to meet your needs, and is there space for you to augment them (freezer, dishwasher) if you want to? Where will you dry your clothes, hang your coat, keep the spare towels?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:58 PM on August 15, 2013

Not a question, but If you're tall, make sure the showerhead is at an adequate height. I always forget to check and end up in places with a shower perfect for someone 150cm tall and I'm much taller.
posted by birdherder at 4:52 PM on August 15, 2013

This recent AskMe has a lot of suggestions, too.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:25 PM on August 15, 2013

Damp. Be sure to ask about Damp. Look behind furniture and in small spaces for evidence of damp.

You don't want to live anywhere with any evidence of damp whatsoever.
posted by koolkat at 2:09 AM on August 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks guys, this'll make a nice list to take with me.
posted by sockpim at 1:03 AM on August 17, 2013

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