Top tenant tips

Q: I’m looking to find a rental property but struggling as there seems to be very little choice. Do you have any tips?

A: The London rental market can be quite tough for tenants at the best of times, as the best properties in any price range tend to get snapped up so quickly. Throw into the mix a very limited supply of property and this makes finding a rental property even harder.

There is currently a noticeable shortage of good quality rental properties across central London, regardless of whether you’re spending a couple of hundred pounds per week or a couple of thousand. One large London estate agent recently confirmed that 72% of their tenants are choosing to stay put and renew their tenancies, rather than move, which has really reduced the natural turnover of properties coming onto the rental market. However, remember that you only need one good property, so don’t panic! The key is to be at the front of the queue, ahead of other tenants.

Relationships with estate agents are important whenever you’re looking for a property to rent or to buy, even more so when there’s limited supply of good properties. If time permits, I would start courting the agents approx. seven or eight weeks before you need to move. This is slightly too early, as the best time to search is typically around four or five weeks before you want to move, but it gives you a chance to start building a relationship with the agents. Be memorable though, not pestering!

The more specific you can be with the lettings agents about what you want, the better. If they know exactly what you want, they can call you as soon as the right property comes up. If your search criteria is wishy-washy, when a great property comes up, the agent will prioritise another tenant ahead of you, so you may not get a look in at all.

If something really perfect comes up then do your best to be available for viewings ahead of your competition. I’ve persuaded estate agents to get me into properties weeks ahead of others. And I’ve also attended viewings where the existing tenant isn’t even 100% confirmed to leave, but I’ve viewed the property anyway and told the agent that if the tenant does confirm that they’re vacating, to call me immediately as my client will take the property, without the agent needing to show anyone else.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email or tweet her @joeccles.