Although people have varying degrees of control over their general finances, one thing we tend to be pretty sure about is our rental budget. When we’re flat-hunting, we search by monthly price, and we know exactly how much we can afford to put down as a deposit.
In capital cities especially, these numbers are crucial. Markets are so competitive that we often have to stretch our budget to the limit to nab the right place. A look at the London Rents Map shows that large swathes of the capital have a monthly median rent of more than £2,150, which means every penny counts.
But what we don’t often take into account are those ‘hidden’ costs of renting - the little extras that accumulate over the moving period and into the tenancy. We’re not talking about the obvious stuff (utilities, council tax, renting 101). We want to cover the costs that tend to spring up as nasty surprises along the way, stretching budgets and credit cards to the limit. These are the costly parts of renting we forget to count up in our mental maths.
Lack of flexibility
Traditional estate agents aren’t exactly accommodating for long-term plans. You might know you want to move in two months when you change jobs, but no agent will talk to you unless you’re ready to move in tomorrow.
In those situations, finding the right place can cost you - in doubling up rent, having to use an AirBnB for a few weeks or having to compromise and run around at the very last minute.
At Residently we believe that flexibility is your right as a renter. We understand that you might want to lock down a place a little while in advance, so you can plan the rest of your life. And we don’t penalise you for it.
Furniture, crockery and cutlery
Furnished or unfurnished - that is the question. But just because the landlord leaves a couch in the living room, doesn’t necessarily make the property liveable straight away. And forget about it feeling like ‘home’ on day one.
Look for an agent that will furnish the place based on your lifestyle, not just what’s easiest for them and the landlord. At Residently we offer all our homes fully furnished - and by fully furnished, we mean complete with teaspoons and teabags. It’s home straight away.
Packing, storing and moving
Whether you’re a KonMari devotee or an unashamed maximalist, moving your stuff is painful. It also comes at quite a cost. You need the man, the van, and in some cases, somewhere to put your stuff while the move happens. This can add up quickly - especially if a short time in storage turns into a long one.
Even if you call in favours or try to do it yourself, the car rental fees and time taken going back and forth really take their toll.
Ideally, your agent will take care of all of this for you. Yes, despite what you’ve seen, there are agents in London who’ll sort the move for you.
Your time and mental state
During ‘moving week’ you’re constantly waiting around for moving people, deliveries and contractors, both at your old address and the new one.
If you’re lucky enough to work flexibly, you might be able to get through it without too many headaches - but if you’re in the office five days a week, there’s sure to be some disruption to your ability to work. You may end up taking a holiday day or two to help out with the logistics of the move - which we can all agree would be better spent on actual holidays. And speaking of holidays - you might be in need of one after the process. Moving house has been known to stress people out and test relationships.
Try and find an agent who’ll take the burden off you and do the running around for you - for instance, organising the removals for you and sorting out the references without making you jump through hoops.
Chasing down the landlord
You move into your new place and the boiler is complicated. The dishwasher is on its last legs. The washing machine is putting marks on your clothes. You don’t have the time to get in there with a flashlight, but calling the landlord is a drawn out and unpleasant process. Do you spend time and money trying to fix it yourself?
We don’t believe you should have to put up with issues like this - because they’re stressful and they build up, and they can get in the way of your life. We make sure Residently Renters know everything about their property when they move in and it’s already in peak condition - so that tricky boiler won’t be an issue. And if they do have a problem, they just call us and we sort it straight away.
Changing your details
It can be exciting to update your friends and family with your new address - but we forget how many other people and organisations need to know, too. And we don’t exactly keep a list of who knows where we live.
If a tax cheque goes to your old address it might end up in the bin without you knowing. Miss a parking fine or bill and you’ll cop the late fees, or even worse - a court summons. And if you’ve ever had an Amazon package sent to an old address, you know how much of a pain it can be to get it redirected.
At Residently we get it all set up for you, from utilities, to broadband, because we know that these are things that make your life easier from day one.
The good news
Governments have stepped in around the world to provide some security for renters and protect them from predatory agents and landlords.
The Tenants Fees Act 2019 comes into force from 1 June 2019 meaning letting fees will be banned in England (they’re already banned in Scotland).
Effectively this ends all payments ‘in connection with the tenancy of housing in England’, unless they’re on the government’s list of approved payments. Basically, tenants can no longer be charged for things like inventories, referencing, phone calls, postage or anything else that takes up the agent’s time.
But while you can be protected from some fees and charges, renters still need to be careful. To avoid nasty surprises, make sure you’re prepared and make double sure you’re renting through an agent who has your best interests (and your lifestyle) at heart.
A new breed of agents (like us) are using technology and new ways of thinking to shake up the rental industry to revolve more around the most important part - the renter. The old ways of doing things are just that - old. You should be able to pick and choose move-in and move-out dates that suit you. You should be able to customise your rental the way you want, even down to the art on the wall. We’re taking the transformations you’ve seen in other industries and applying them to renting. And we’ve got some of the happiest renters around.