Renting my first flat

When I was 24 I embarked on my first move, this was from my hometown Leeds to Birmingham.  I needed a flat to rent….

What was it that I needed to know!? Firstly I didn’t know Birmingham, I needed someone to help me, what do I look for when renting? What are the key features of a house? I didn’t know to check that the property had double glazing, central heating or even a shower (sounds ridiculous). These had just existed in my family home.

I had originally gone to view the flat with my younger sister (22 at the time) so both of us were as clueless as each other. All we knew was that it was in budget and seemed like it could be quite homely. I would list all the things we didn’t take notice of, but to be honest it is easier to say what we took notice of, 1. the fireplace – the electric fireplace made the place look cosy, 2, the separate kitchen, it had a nice big window overlooking some trees, and that is pretty much it! It was furnished and the furniture looked ok – although I didn’t actually test anything. Could I see myself living here? Yes, sure, why not! Deposit paid without a knowledgeable adult in sight!

My dad transported me and my worldly belongings to Birmingham in the back of an estate car. I was nervous but excited too! My first house. When I unpacked I realised I had hardly anything….. luckily it was Christmas time. My family had bought me a survival kit, plates, cups, saucers, toaster, plus a lot of items which were begged, borrowed and stolen (only from family of course! I’m not a criminal).

It was only in recent years my dad actually told me his heart sank when I took him into the flat. He couldn’t believe his daughter was living somewhere so shabby. He noticed the lack of double glazing, central heating, shower and the like! He also tested out the furniture.

I stayed in that house for a year, I had drips falling on my bed (and on occasion head)through the skylight window when it rained, I had to put the emersion heater on every morning so I had hot water to get a wash, I had to take a bath every morning for a year because I didn’t have a shower, and all bills were electric so my electricity costs were through the roof in winter as I had no central heating. This doesn’t even include the area I lived in. Generally I stayed in on an evening as I didn’t want to even go to the corner shop for milk after dark!

Would I change it? Hell yes! The landlord should never have been able to get away with renting out that flat – and despite me complaining a few times (didn’t want to be a burden) nothing ever got fixed. Strict laws have now been enforced for landlords, but even so, don’t be like me, seek guidance on the area and thoroughly research what you need in your new home.

Use the rental checklist below – it sure would have helped me. It also highlights what you deem to be important from a property. Everyone wants something different.


  1. Check the local crime rating for the area.
  2. Visit the property during various times of the day and evening
  3. What local amenities are there?
  4. Are there any neighbourhood vigilantes
  5. Are there any pubs with loud music close by
  6. What is the parking like on the street
  7. What are the neighbours like


  1. Is the house in good condition?
  2. Is it secure? Gate, fence.
  3. Are you sharing a garden with anyone?
  4. Is there a garden, if so who is responsible for maintaining it.
  5. Are there any trip hazards outside the house? Uneven patio?
  6. Is there a burglar alarm? Does it work?
  7. Do the windows look OK from the outside?


  1. Does it have central heating
  2. Where is the thermostat?
  3. Do the radiators look comparable to the size of the room? Do they all work?
  4. Is the décor in good condition?
  5. Is there any sign of damp on the walls or by the windows (sometimes covered up by curtains)
  6. Do the windows open? Do they Lock? Are they double glazed?
  7. Do the taps work?
  8. Does the shower work?
  9. Are the bath / shower / sink all sealed satisfactorily
  10. Is there an extractor fan (Bathroom / Kitchen)
  11. Can the décor be changed?
  12. Are any wires on show, check light fittings and fixtures.
  13. Check where the water stop cock is, and the gas / electricity meter.
  14. Is there enough storage for you (and your family)


  1. is the furniture broken
  2. Make an inventory of all items, outlining any damage to anything
  3. All electrical appliances should be PAT tested

Additional information

  1. Make sure any furnishings have the correct fire safety certificate.
  2. There should be carbon monoxide detectors in the property
  3. Check for smoke alarms
  4. Safety blanket and extinguisher in the kitchen
  5. Check there is a valid gas certificate

If you are co renting with someone you have never met before then make sure you met them somewhere impartial to begin with and have an ‘interview’ you want to make sure that you are compatible and they are trustworthy.

This list is not exhaustive but may help you on the journey to finding your perfect home. Visit  or email for more information or a free consultation on your house move.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s