Real Estate

Rental Rip-offs: How To Avoid Them

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Tired of being ripped off by landlords and agencies? More and more tenants are getting caught out by hidden conditions and fees that can make renting very expensive. Next time you look for a property to rent, make sure to consider some of these tips to avoid spending unnecessary amounts.

Look out for hidden broker fees

Thinking of renting through a letting agency? Letting agencies can sometimes offer more security than independent landlords by ensuring that official contracts and standards are met – however, many like to charge hidden fees, which can make renting even more expensive. On top of a deposit, some brokers can get greedy and charge extra fees for credit checks, drawing up tenancy agreements, getting references and even general admin.

Whilst it’s perfectly legal for these agents to do this, they should always make these costs clear. Many won’t let you know about these costs until you’re about to sign the contract – to avoid being hit by these surprise costs, always ask a letting agency about these fees before you start working with them. In fact, you could even go around each agency in your area getting quotes on their broker fees – this could allow to budget for these costs and could help you to avoid the most expensive agents.

Read online reviews

Nowadays, it’s easier to research into the reputation of a landlord or letting agency by looking online for reviews. There are even sites that offer reviews on properties such as this condominium directory. These reviews can help you to uncover issues that you may not otherwise discover. When it comes to landlord and agencies, reviews could help warn you of rising rental costs or slow response times to emergency repairs. Reviews of individual properties can meanwhile help to reveal hidden conditions that won’t get mentioned in the viewing such as noisy neighbours or pest problems. All in all, reading reviews could help you to cut to the truth.

Compare property prices in the area 

Whilst looking at places to rent, it’s worth comparing rental prices of other properties in the area to determine whether you’re being charged a decent amount. Of course, some properties in the area could come with better furnishings or could be laid out in a completely different style, however there should never really be a huge difference in price. You can compare neighbourhood prices by using online directories or by using sites such as this one.

Read the contract to check what’s included

You should never sign on the dotted line without giving the contract a thorough read first. One of the most important elements to look out for is included services – what exactly is included in your rent.

Firstly, you should check which furnishings are included. Some property owners will go as far as provide furniture such as sofas and beds, whilst others won’t even include the white goods such as a washing machine or oven. Ask for an itemised list of furnishings if one isn’t provided.

Secondly, you should check for included bills and services. Many property owners won’t include energy bills in the rent, but some do. One major service to check for is repairs and maintenance. Whilst its fair enough that you are liable for any damage you cause to the property, you should never have to pay for general wear and tear. Some landlords will try to get tenants to pay for this and may include it in the contract – you don’t want to fall into this trap as you could end up being charged for everything from plumbing repairs to roof repair, when really this should always be the landlord’s responsibility.

Some brokers and landlords will try and rush you through the contract signing stage – you should never let yourself get rushed into this process and should take all the time you need to read the contract. Ask questions if you are unsure of something. If possible, ask these questions via email so that you have any confirmation in writing.

Check that your deposit is protected 

Your deposit must be protected by law – but this doesn’t stop landlords from failing to keep it insured. If your deposit isn’t protected, it could prevent you getting it back once your tenancy has ended. There are sites that you can use to check that your deposit is protected. Often it’s something that’s stated in the contract.

Make sure to read up on the conditions surrounding your deposit. Generally, you’ll have to keep the property in good condition in order to get your deposit returned, which could mean giving it a deep clean after you’ve left. This could include everything from cleaning the oven to removing any stains off the carpet – something which may require calling up a professional cleaning agency for. Obviously, you don’t want to spend too much money trying to get your deposit back.

Be wary of the tenancy start date 

If you’re moving in at the end of the month, make sure that you’re not being charged that month’s rent – otherwise you could be paying for an entire month in which you weren’t even living in the property. Don’t sign anything until the beginning of the month so that legally you don’t have to pay for the previous month. You could find that landlords and agencies are eager to rush you into signing the contract at the end of the month just so that you can pay this extra month’s rent – don’t let yourself be rushed into this as you shouldn’t have to pay for a month in which you weren’t living there.

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