It’s a challenge we all have to face at some point. Whatever the context of our childhood, we’ve all had some experience of parents, carers and other figures of authority planning and worrying about a move, talking a new home up to those old enough to understand, and doing frantic work the purpose of which can’t help but elude the younger.
When you grow up, you have to start doing this work yourself: viewing houses and looking knowledgeably at boilers and shower attachments, as though you understand them and slowly realising those adults didn’t have access to a leather-bound book called How to Move House, and instead were doing their best with hard won experience.
Today we’re giving you a little bit of insight into the process to help you make good decisions and avoid some of the pitfalls that beginners can stumble into.
What to Look For
It’s hard to know what to look for when you’re viewing a house or flat. You get an idea of the size or décor, the facilities available and the location but this can all mask severe problems you only discover when you move in.
If you have the chance, try the taps. Make sure you get hot water quickly, and at a reasonable temperature and pressure. A dismal trickle of lukewarm water means washing is going to be less than pleasant, and could indicate infrastructure problems that need solving.
Take a look at the boiler too. There’s not a huge amount you can assess at a glance, but you can certainly tell if it appears to be in good repair. If it’s rusting, or held together with some obvious bits of DIY, it’s an indication the landlord doesn’t seem to care about keeping things in good condition. Ask about it too – how old it is, and when it was last serviced.
Keep an eye out for damp patches. These don’t always mean disaster. There could be a perfectly innocent explanation but do make sure you get that explanation before you move into a house with no effective damp proofing.
Never sign the contract before reading it. Make sure the landlord or letting agent isn’t making you responsible for anything beyond your remit as a tenant. While basic upkeep and cleaning is certainly on your agenda, dealing with infestations, structural issues and any breakages due to wear and tear on items that came with the house. In brief: if you broke the fridge you ought to replace it. If it simply wore out because it’s the house’s single longest tenant, it’s the landlord’s responsibility.