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Be Polite - Be Punctual

Landlords, landladies and letting agents have to deal with a large number of responses to their adverts and at times they may seem impatient or unhelpful. Nevertheless you should try to be patient and polite when talking to them, both in your initial telephone conversation, and when you meet them face to face at the viewing. Remember that at all times you are, to some extent, trying to sell yourself as a suitable applicant. Invariably you will be in competition with other applicants and if you create a bad impression at this early stage your chances of being selected will obviously be reduced. This is particularly true when viewing a room to let in a shared house with a resident landlord. He is going to ask himself whether he would be happy to share his own home with you, and furthermore, will you fit in well with any other lodgers who are already renting rooms in his house.

Try to arrange an early viewing time if possible. The sooner, the better, as there will almost certainly be other people interested in the same property. Many landlords will adopt a "first come, first served" approach, so there is no time to lose. Punctuality is most important. Arrive at the viewing at the pre-arranged time. Remember, better early than late. If you think you are going to be late, or if you want to re-arrange the time and/or date, contact the landlord or agent as soon as possible. Never just turn up at a different time and assume that it doesn't matter.

When talking on the phone, or when talking face to face, nothing will annoy a landlord or agent more than you asking them unnecessary questions to which you should already know the answers if you have read their adverts carefully. So, be organised. Take written notes if necessary, especially if you have a number of different properties to view.

Talk vs Text vs Email

When responding to adverts for accommodation to let, there is no time to lose. When setting up a viewing, the sooner, the better, as there will almost certainly be other people interested in the same property. Many landlords will adopt a "first come, first served" approach, so speed is vital.

As a general rule, e-mail will not produce a quick response. Text is OK, but talk is invariably best, as it will establish instant contact.

Talk has another advantage over text. You and your potential landlord can learn more about each other from a conversation, than from a brief text message. You will have a chance to "sell yourself" to the landlord and the landlord will have a chance to learn a little about you. Is there anything that you would like to know about the accommodation that is not mentioned in the advert? Now is your chance to ask. From a short conversation you may learn something that might make you feel that the accommodation is unsuitable for you. In this way you can avoid wasting both your time, and the landlord's time, by setting up a viewing that is destined to be unfruitful.

Some private online advertisers only offer contact by e-mail, in which case you will unfortunately have no choice. But if you do make contact by e-mail, be sure to quote your own mobile phone number in your message, thereby giving the advertiser a chance to reply quickly.

Most "high street" letting agents have restricted opening times, most likely 9 to 5, Mondays to Fridays, and perhaps Saturdays. Every letting agent will have a landline phone number, but bear in mind their likely hours of business. Choose a sensible time to call and avoid disappointment.

Having said that talk is best, text can work really well with younger landlords for whom texting is a part of everyday life. But, remember, many landlords will be older than yourself. They come from a different generation and their lifestyle maybe more old fashioned, for want of a better expression. Texting is not part of their everyday life. They may even consider it rude to make initial contact by text. So, once again, talk is best.

Don't be shy. Ask questions. Even if English is not your first language, be brave. If the potential landlord to whom you are talking is too impatient to deal with your unfamiliarity with the English language, you may be forced to give the accommodation a miss.
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Never Pay Before View

Beware of advertisers who only offer contact by e-mail and who ask for an up-front payment before allowing you to view the accommodation. The accommodation on offer usually looks too good to be true. And that's exactly what it is - too good to be true. This type of activity is a scam and the accommodation advertised invariably doesn't exist.

The scamsters who place these types of adverts are clever. The accommodation they offer will sound very attractive and the rent will always be below market value. The adverts usually containing appetising photos, usually stolen form elsewhere on the Internet. They will not ask for payment up front initially. First they will want to get you hooked. Then in there second or third e-mail contact, they will ask for payment. They will instruct that this payment should take place through a specific international money transfer service, usually "Western Union".

But there are tell tale signs to be found right there in the advert. Firstly, there is never a contact phone number included in the advert, only an e-mail address. Secondly, the scamster is usually located outside the U.K. and invariably English is not the scamster's first language. For this reason their descriptive text will usually contain errors and odd expressions, phrases and words not commonly used in the U.K. Of course, if you come from overseas and English is not your first language either, you may miss these signs.

So, the rule is, no matter how desperate you may be - Never Pay Before View !!!

Attend the Viewing in Person

Maybe you have found accommodation in an online advert. The accommodation sounds just right for you, but unfortunately you are currently located in a different town, some distance away, or worse, in another country. You have a friend who already lives in the town where the accommodation is located. You are tempted to appoint the friend to view the accommodation on your behalf. Or maybe you live close to the accommodation but you are busy and can't arrange a viewing because of work or school commitments. Again, why not appoint a friend to view on your behalf?

Don't be tempted. It's not a good idea.

If you are planning to move into a room in a shared house with a resident landlord, the landlord will be wanting to meet the person with whom he is going to share his home. That's you, not your friend. If you are planning to rent a studio, flat or house where a tenancy agreement has to be signed, it is you who will ultimately have to sign, not your friend. So, don't waste everybody's time. That's your time and the landlord or letting agent's time. And anyway, your friend's opinion of what would be ideal accommodation for you is likely to be very different from your own opinion.

It is worth mentioning that unscrupulous landlords renting out bedsits or rooms may happily accept cash up-front payments from an appointed friend. These are the very types of landlords who frequently don't issue written receipts. The outcome is likely to be confusion at best, or a lost deposit at worst.

So, for various reasons, never appoint a friend to view on your behalf.

You may be from overseas and perhaps at the time of enquiring about the accommodation you haven't yet arrived in the U.K. In this situation you may be especially tempted to appoint a friend to view on your behalf. Don't be tempted. You will regret your decision later.

Remote Advance Reservation

Attempting to reserve medium term or long term accommodation, in advance, from another town or from another country, is not only impracticable, but also unwise. You will be committing yourself to a stay of at least several weeks in accommodation that you have never viewed. In the unlikely event that the landlord agrees with your proposal he will almost certainly require payment up-front. So remember the old rule - Never Pay Before View !!!

If you are worried about where you are going to stay when you first arrive in your new hometown your best option is to move in to a bed and breakfast. This kind of temporary accommodation can be booked in adavance on a "night by night" basis, which will solve your problem perfectly.
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This advice is especially relevant if you currently outside the U.K. but are planning to come to the U.K. in the near future.

Check Out the Neighbourhood

When you are doing your initial property/accommodation search you will probably notice significant differences in rent, from one area to another, or even from one street to another. If rents are cheap, the reason is often that the properties are located in bad areas of town. Before committing yourself to viewing a property, do a little research. Ask friends and colleagues who maybe have lived in the town longer than you and have become familiar with the different areas of town. Ask local people. Read the local newspaper. Visit the area that you are intersted in yourself before setting up any viewings.

Living near pubs and nightclubs may seem like fun. Living above shops and near train stations may seem highly convenient. But, these locations will often suffer from noise, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and, more worryingly, theft and violence.

When you do go to view a specific property, check out the immediate neighbourhood. Neglected properties, empty properties and boarded up properties are all telltale signs of an area in decline. And remember, the area may look OK in the daytime, but what is it going to be like at night time? Is it a so called "no-go area"? Will you be afraid to leave your home at night?

So, don't just view the property - Check Out the Neighbourhood !!!

Insist on a Written Receipt

There are situations where a requesting a written receipt is strongly recommended. You should ask for a written receipt for all money paid in cash, be it a deposit, a rent payment, an administrative charge or a deduction from a deposit refund. The written receipt should include details of the amount paid, what exactly the payment is for and the date, and it should be signed by the landlord or letting agent. A receipt for rent paid, should clearly state the period to which the rent payment applies, including the start date. It would also be helpful if the receipt includes the landlord or agent's name and address, and the address of the property to which the receipt applies.

It is not only important to obtain a written receipt. It is equally important to keep it in a safe place until you eventually move out of the accommodation. In this way disputes about dates, deposits, and deductions from deposits can hopefully be avoided.

Private landlords, particularly resident landlords of shared houses, are notoriously unreliable, and in some cases unwilling, when it comes to supplying written receipts. But don't be shy. You have a right to insist on a written receipt. Better to be safe now than sorry later.

Notice to Leave - Renting a Room in a Shared House - Insist on a Written Details

If you plan to rent a room in a shared house there is unlikely to be a written tenancy agreement. It is therefore strongly recommended that you obtain written details of the required notice to leave, before making any commitment to move in. It is not only important to obtain these written details in the first place. It is equally important to keep them in a safe place until you eventually move out of the accommodation. In this way disputes about dates, deposits, and deductions from deposits can hopefully be avoided.

Private landlords, particularly resident landlords of shared houses, are notoriously unreliable, and in some cases unwilling, when it comes to supplying details. But don't be shy. You have a right to insist on written details. Better to be safe now than sorry later.

Avoid Subletting

If you rent a property from a landlord and then at some stage during the tenancy you move out and rent that property out to someone else, you are said to have sublet the property. In most tenancy agreements subletting is prohibited.

Subletting is very risky and should be avoided if at all possible.
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Don't Get Into Debt

It is your responsibility is to ensure that your bank account contains enough funds when each rent payment or utility bill payment is due. Non payment caused by lack of funds in your account will initially result in you receiving a reminder or warning letter from the landlord, agent or utility company that hasn't been paid. Refusal to pay will ultimately result in the appointment a debt collector to recover the unpaid monies. You may think that by moving out to a new address you will escape paying what you owe. You would be wrong. Debt collection agencies have extremely powerful techniques allowing them to trace debtors, regardless of change of address.

So, the message is simple. Don't get behind with your payments. Don't get into debt !!!

If you are foolish enough do get into debt, there are organisations that can help you.
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Mail Redirect to a Forwarding Address

When you move to a new address you must ensure that all of your contacts are informed of your change of address. Never assume that you can just periodically return to your old address and pick up incorrectly addressed mail. This practice is unreliable, it may irritate the new occupants of your old address, and often is simply not possible.

You should create a list of all your contacts and inform them individually. The list will probably include the following -

Your bank, credit card companies, local council, electricity and/or gas suppliers, BT, local water companies, TV licensing authority, mobile phone company, internet service provider, inland revenue, DVLA, doctor, dentist, insurers, solicitors, etc. etc.

As you can see the list is likely to be extremely long. I recommend that you work your way through this list slowly and carefully, AND, you promptly set up a Royal Mail Redirection to deal with the short term problem of redirecting high priority mail to your new address.


Renting a Room in a Shared House
Insist on Written Details

MAIL REDIRECT to a Forwarding Address

Help & Advice for
Foreign Students
International Students
Foreign Workers !!!

Be Safe !!!
Be Secure !!!

Insist on a
Written Receipt !!!

Never Pay Before View !!!

Be Polite !!! Be Punctual !!!