In a pressured rental market, it’s very tempting to rush in and take what you can get – and then regret it later. Whether you’re joining an existing flat as the newest flatmate or taking on a new tenancy agreement yourself, the best thing is to be prepared with a list of questions and ensure you’re happy with all the answers first.

What should those questions be?

  • Is the tenancy agreement for the flat fixed term (with an end date) or periodic (with no end date)?
  • How many people live in the flat, and who holds the tenancy agreement? Keep in mind that if your name is not on the tenancy agreement, then you are considered a flatmate and are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.
  • How much is the bond, and how much rent needs to be paid in advance?
  • Is there any existing damage to the property and, if so, what is going to be done about this? (Ensure you closely examine the property for damage during your inspection, and take photographs, in case you end up being blamed for it.)
  •  Is there likely to be a rent increase during your tenancy/stay and, if so, what will it be?
  • How much maintenance are you expected to carry out (such as the gardens) according to the tenancy agreement?
  • If you are moving into an existing flat ask yourself, will you gel with your flatmates? Enquire about their jobs, daily routines and also their expectations of you. If your lifestyles are polar opposites, perhaps look elsewhere.
  • How are flat costs – such as utility bills, rent and in some cases food – shared and managed?
  • Are your future flatmates staying for a while, or all planning to move out after you move in, leaving you to fill the empty rooms and pay the rent?
  • If you’re dealing directly with a landlord or property manager, you can also ask about the existing flatmates. Is the rent always on time, or are there signs of potential eviction?
  • You can also ask the landlord for references – you have to trust them as much as they need to trust you