Friday, 21 July 2017

Renting - My Experience, My Tips & Pros & Cons

Renting your first home is such a minefield! I've been wanting to talk about this on my blog for a while but I've never been sure how to go about it. Whilst I'm aware I really don't know everything, I do have a few tips I'd love to share and they might be basic, but this is exactly what I could have done with a few years ago. I thought instead of going right back to the beginning I'm going to just talk about the flat we're in now, how it's been for us renting, my tips to help you if you're wanting to move out and also the pros and cons. Just to give you a bit of a back story I first moved out of my family home when I was 18 to go to university and this is also when George and I moved in together. It was a tiny flat in student accommodation but for us it was a lovely, little first home. After a year we then found the flat we're in now and we've been here ever since! I'm not sure if this is something many people will be particularly interested in but I know I would have loved a post like this when we were looking for somewhere to live, so I hope it maybe helps one person.

My Experience

So this flat we're in now wasn't the place we originally went for. We were always keen on going straight in for a house, renting that for a while and then hopefully saving for a mortgage. Unfortunately things don't always go to plan and the house we first went for, fell through. It took me quite a long time to get over that house as it really was such a lovely home but we soon found the flat we're in now. I'm not going to lie, I really struggled when I first moved here. It was a mixture of things I think. Moving back from Leicester, not having a job at the time, all sorts of family issues, money issues and having to basically settle in by myself as George couldn't get much time off work. For days I remember crying wanting to look for somewhere else straight away but obviously we couldn't really do that. I just had to look at the positives. Since then I've been doing everything I can to make it more of a proper home. Over the last few years we've added things in slowly and now some rooms are perfect and just so cosy. I really will be sad to leave this place when we do eventually move out as now it does feel like ours. In terms of the actual renting which is the whole point of this post, again we don't have the best estate agents, they were extremely slow throughout the whole process, from viewing the property, passing on information regarding moving in dates, getting the keys etc. And even now if we need to get in touch with them, it can take days and days for us to get hold of someone. Regardless of that though, we do have a really good landlord. He just leaves us to it which makes this place feel like more of a home. He's not checking on us all the time, inspecting it and he's never made me feel like he could kick us out at a moments notice (one of my biggest concerns with renting). He's quick to come round and help if there are any issues and has always been fast to fix anything and find solutions. To be honest he's a pretty brilliant landlord and I know some people don't always get that lucky when renting. I definitely have days where I wish we had a bigger place and I long for the days we finally have a garden but for now, it's really alright. We're quite lucky in terms of rent and our landlord has always been laidback about us putting our on stamp on the place. I do think everything worked out okay in the end for us with this place.

My Tips

Don't Rush Into Anything - As much as you might be desperate to move out of your parents or wherever it is you are currently, don't rush it! We were really keen to find something asap and as I mentioned we did and it fell through. It was the first place we viewed and it all went wrong. Obviously if you do find somewhere you love, by all means go for it, but just be prepared that it's not always as straight forward as it seems and it's definitely worth looking around for a bit first and being 100% sure.

Communicate with your Landlord - As I said our landlord basically leaves us to it most of the time but it's really important if you do have any questions or worries, to let them know. If something has broken, get in touch. It's much better they know and can do something about it rather than finding out at the end of your tenancy and needing to fix it then. Things happen and as long as you're honest and tell them when there is an issue, they really won't mind you getting in touch. At the end of the day it is their property and they'll want to know how you're getting on there and if there are any problems. I also wanted to mention that when we first moved in we were told to never get in contact with the landlord and do everything through the estate agents. Once we met him, he said the opposite. If your landlord is okay with you contacting them first, then go for it.

Ask Permission - I suppose this sort of comes under the communicating one but anyway. If you're wanting to make some big changes to place, it really is much better to ask the landlord first. You don't want to be adding new things, changing carpets, painting walls etc for them to not know and not be happy about it. As much as you want to make it your own, you have to respect it isn't your property and it's so much easier to just ask first. Most landlords won't have an issue. A lot of the time you can find these sorts of things out when first viewing a place. That is one of the questions we asked during our viewing, are we allowed to decorate? and we were told there should be no problem. And so far there hasn't been. He's been fine with us putting stuff on the walls, replacing furniture that was here when we moved in etc. It just saves a lot of hassle if you ask first, get permission and then go ahead.

Renewing/Ending Your Tenancy - This is probably common sense really but when deciding you want to end your contract you have to give notice, and most of the time it's about 4 weeks. We've not had to do that yet but we know the amount of time we need to give, and it's the same as what our landlord would give us if he decided to sell. When it comes to renewing your tenancy agreement, get in touch in plenty of time, a good few months before it's due to end, that way you will know in plenty of time if you're landlord is okay with you staying on. You can then discuss how much longer you want to stay etc. We were in this situation last year and after discussing it with our landlord it worked out easier for everyone if we went onto a rolling monthly contract rather than another fixed one. That discussion also gave us some reassurance that he had no intentions of selling the flat and so we're safe here for quite a while yet. 

Pros of renting

More Flexibility - If you're someone who gets bored after a while in one place, renting gives you the opportunity to move about. You can easily move away when you're contract is up and discover somewhere new and you're not held down with a mortgage. It also means if you or maybe your partner wants to move away for work or gets an opportunity to relocate, you don't have to worry about selling.

May Be Able To Save Money - Depending on the sort of place you rent and the area, you could find yourself not paying a massive amount of rent and being able to put that towards other things. If your rent isn't bad which luckily ours isn't, money could be put towards a holiday, a deposit for a mortgage, etc.

Your Landlord Is There To Help - If you have a broken boiler or washing machine for example, that is something the landlord can deal with. Our washing machine unexpectedly broke a few months ago and within a few days he had arranged a new one for us. He's also always been quick to fix anything that may have broken in the flat or if something has needed doing he's always been happy to do it. There are a lot of things that aren't actually your responsibility when you rent and it's nice to have someone else to come over and sort them for you whereas if it's your home, it's all yours to deal with and pay for.

Cons of renting

 It's Not Really Your Home - When it comes down to it, it's not your that has bought the flat/house and there is always a possibility that the landlord will want to sell. With renting there is always a little bit of doubt that maybe one day you'll get given your 4 weeks notice and you'll have to quickly find somewhere else to live and also find the money for it. At least with buying a house, once it's yours, it's yours and there is no need for worrying about getting kicked out.

You Can't Always Do What You Want With It - As I mentioned earlier in this post, if you're wanting to make changes to the place it's best to ask permission. Even though most landlords don't have an issue with this, it can be annoying not being able to do what you want do it without having to ask first. It can make you limited in terms of decorating and adding things because really it's not your property to do that.

It Can Feel Like You've Wasted Money - With buying a house, you know each month when you pay your mortage it's yours. With renting, you're essentially paying off someone elses mortgage and at the end of it you don't really get anything from it. A lot of people think it's just a waste as in the end it's unlikely to be where you stay forever and it's never officially going to be your home. A lot of people now choose to stay at parents as long as possible, save for a mortgage and skip the whole renting part.

There are both pros and cons to renting, and really whether you choose to do it or not is down to you and your circumstances. Some people don't have much of a choice, others prefer renting, and some would much prefer to just save and buy a house. For us, we've had a pretty good experience with renting so far and hopefully that will continue. I'm not sure when the day will come for us to buy a house, we're not even close to being in the position to save for a deposit so for now renting is our only option, as it is for a lot of young people. I hope this post has given you a bit of information about renting if you were unsure, and I hope my tips were useful. I've just tried my best and even though this post is extremely long, I hope it makes sense and maybe helps someone!

What's your experience with renting? Would you prefer to save and buy or are you happy to rent?

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