Coronavirus: A guide to finding a new property to rent during lockdown

It can be difficult securing a good rental property at the best of times but the Covid-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for would-be renters searching for their next home.

On behalf of OnTheMarket, London estate agent Portico has put together this advice on how to find a new property to rent during the coronavirus lockdown.

Let technology aid your search

The Government has advised against all viewings of occupied properties during the lockdown but technology is allowing letting agents, both traditional and online, to adapt.

More agents are offering virtual viewings and communicating with customers through video calls via services such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and Zoom.

Get all your paperwork in order 

Having all the necessary paperwork in order can help quicken the process of finding a new rental property as a range of identification documentation is needed to secure one.

Right to Rent checks are required before the start of any tenancy. During coronavirus lockdown, these checks are allowed to be made through video calls and tenants are asked to send scanned documents through email or a mobile app, instead of providing the originals like it’s typically done.

A renters’ résumé can help you stand out and highlight yourself as a suitable tenant. Provide background information on yourself; list previous accommodation; state past and current occupations and include two or three references.

A strong renters’ résumé can help you present yourself as professionally as possible to a landlord and improve your chances of securing a property.

Learn how to read a floor plan

Floor plans can help you get a better idea of the size and layout of a property, but can be confusing at first glance. Look at the floor plan as a whole and notice that it’s like looking at the house from a bird’s eye view.

Find the front entrance and then start to visualise yourself walking through the property and the different rooms. Each room should have dimensions, and the location and size of doors and windows can also be seen on floor plans.

Knowing the size of your current property and bedroom is handy so you can compare it to other potential rentals.

Don’t rush because of issues with your current rental property

If your landlord is seeking to evict you because you are struggling to pay rent owing to temporary financial hardship caused by coronavirus, you should be aware of the protections and options that you have.

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Coronavirus: What to do if you can’t pay your rent

The best virtual property viewings you can do right now

Emergency legislation has been put in place to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place. Landlords aren’t allowed to apply for new possession proceedings for a 90 day period from 27 March.

Government financial support has also been made available to pay 80 per cent of the salaries of employees who have been furloughed and the majority of self-employed workers who have lost their income due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Be aware of rental costs where you’re moving

Before moving, it’s important you’re aware of the average cost of rent in the local area and the potential costs involved in renting, such as utility bills and council tax.

The average rent in Greater London for example is £1,673, according to the HomeLet Rental Index for March 2020.

Council tax rates vary across London boroughs and typically range from £500 to £3,000 per year depending on what tax band the property is in – you should check with the local authority in question.

Help may be available if you’re an NHS worker

Homeowners, landlords, developers, hotels and housing charities have opened their doors to help provide homes for NHS workers who are facing long commutes to hospitals and lengthy working days.

If you are an NHS worker or healthcare professional needing a place to stay, or you are a property owner with an empty home or flat, visit nhshomes.co.uk

If you have to move, plan carefully

The Government has recommended that tenants and home buyers should delay moving to a new house if possible while stay-at-home measures are in place.

If moving is unavoidable, such as for key workers, social distancing measures of maintaining a two metre distance must be followed and anyone involved in the move needs to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and do so often.

OnTheMarket has a dedicated page for coronavirus information and advice.

Content provided by OnTheMarket.com is for information purposes only. Independent and professional advice should be taken before buying, selling, letting or renting property, or buying financial products.

See www.onthemarket.com/newandexclusive. Agents specify exclusivity.