Whether you're renting because buying's out of reach, you've moved with a job, or you want to try a new location before you become a homeowner there, make sure life in your new pad is good.
By Sarah Warwick
Renting a home might be a way of finding out more about a place you think you'd like to live in; it could be your only option in a mortgage market that demands substantial deposits; or you might have clear reasons for preferring it to buying your own place at the moment.
Before you get very specific about towns or streets, you can find out plenty about an area you don't know well. UpMyStreet will also provide you with detail on the local area, including schools, council tax and so on.
Once you're happy you've pinned down the right area(s), make sure you're searching thoroughly by looking online and visiting local estate and letting agents. Look for estate agents who are members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and members of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) in the area where you're searching. Be aware that unlike estate agents, letting agents are not regulated by statute - and the coalition government has announced that it has no intention of so doing - and under no obligation to be part of a redress scheme to address consumer complaints. ARLA was formed as a self-regulating body, with a code of practice and a complaints procedure.
Once you've found a likely property, don't skip the checks you'd make if you were a buyer just because you're renting.
* Visit the area at different times of the day. Is the street a rat run in the rush hour? Is there a lot of noise from local pubs?
* Will you feel safe walking down the street when you come home late?
* Is local transport going to work for you?
* If you don't have a drive or garage, are you going to be able to park on the street - and will you need an expensive permit?
* Are you near enough to all the amenities you need: shops, schools, doctors and dentists?
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