Negotiating the rental market
With the start of college, it’s a time of year when the rental market is in particular flux, but it’s also a very popular time to move house. Brian Hayes Curtin look at some at the things to look out for when you are using the internet to rent a new property
Finding a new rental property is pretty easy these days with sites like daft.ie, rent.ie and let.ie hosting hundreds of options in Cork city alone. Many of the houses and apartments to rent have detailed information and even pictures. A respected letting agent like Jeremy Murphy and Associates is another good option. Check jeremymurphy.ie for details.
It is certainly easier than the days when people would peruse the classified section of newspapers and have to go and view properties without any more information other than basics like the number of bedrooms and price. Now there are hundreds of options that are easily previewed online, making life much easier in some ways.
Although everyone will have a rough budget and other criteria for choosing a place to live in, there will still be too many options. How do you narrow down your renting options, bar simply limiting your criteria? How, in other words, do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
The main rental websites allow quite a bit of information and pictures to be uploaded by the landlord or letting agent. They often include basic information like how many bedrooms and bathrooms are in the property, whether it is furnished or not and some of the key features of the property.
This may include information on things like the type of central heating, whether there is cable television, a washing machine, dryer and microwave or if there is a broadband connection.
There is usually also a property description which could be quite detailed or entirely useless; once more it depends. Some of these should also be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s incredible how many of the description say that the property is newly refurbished, but when you view them, it can be difficult to discern any recent cleaning, let alone refurbishment.
Of course, there is no guarantee that any of the details are true. In the end, you will have to go and see any properties that you have a real interest in, but there are ways to filter out some of the worse options.
Many of the dingier properties have no photos, so they are often to be avoided for example, especially if a letting agent uploads it. However some older landlords are not very internet savvy and aren’t able to upload photos. These properties may be hidden gems, but the only way of knowing is to put the legwork in and view the properties.
If there are photos but they don’t actually show much of the rooms, the uploader might also be hiding something. Usually they may be trying to distract from the smallness of the rooms or a fault like dampness in one of the rooms.
Get out there and view as many properties as you can – there is no substitute for it and it realty is the only way. If you are keen but unsure of a property due to size or location or something that is based on your perception, don’t be afraid to view it again.
Your perception of things like size of rooms is often affected by where you currently live or where you viewed prior to seeing the place.
When you are viewing, check things like the condition of beds, soft furnishings and floor coverings and make note of anything damaged. Make sure to check for signs of damp – this could be a huge issue later.
Also check for smoke detectors, a fire blanket and fire extinguisher and check ventilation and windows.
Check that heating system works and if there is a need for repairs insist they are carried out before move in date.
Don’t be afraid to haggle the price, particularly if the house has been online for some time. You can always suggest making some improvements yourself if you want to try and take a slice off the rent too.
Make sure the lease is fair and try and get an inventory of items for when you move in. Photograph any faults that could be an issue later on. Get a signed copy of the lease too.
Finally, don't pay a deposit unless you are certain you will move in, as these are usually not refundable! Also, don’t spend too much - it is recommended that a person should spend no more than a third of their take home income on rent.