What To Consider When Going Into Your First Flat
Knowing your own budget is key to finding the right flat, and having the best possible experience there. Keep in mind that whether you are moving into a place by yourself, or with others, there is often some large and unavoidable start-up costs. You’ll need to have saved up enough money for a bond (which can be up to 4 weeks rent), plus 1-2 weeks of rent payments in advance, and furnishings.
Often, for your first time flatting, it’s cheaper to move into an existing flat, where flatmates already have couches, a fridge, kitchenware, etc. The other benefit to this is the support of having others around you, especially if you are in a new or unfamiliar city.
Part of your budget also means working out an approximation of your weekly, fortnightly or monthly expenses. This will help you to know exactly how much you have left for coffees and other bits and pieces that you may need.
Landlord vs. Property Manager?
Having a landlord often means that they own property as an investment, but do something else for a living. This can sometimes mean they are harder to contact than a property manager, who looks after the property as part of their job. This is not always the case though! Sometimes a landlord is easier to reach and more helpful given their close tie and investment in the property. If your flat is managed by a property manager this can be more expensive (as when you think about it, there is another wage to pay), which often results in another upfront cost called a “letting fee”. If you’re looking at renting a property that is looked after by a property manager, ask around friends and family if they’ve had any dealings with the company as the service can greatly differ between property managers.
Periodic vs. Fixed Term Lease?
There are pros and cons to each option.
A Periodic lease means there is no term that you’ve agreed to stay for, so all going well you could be there for as long as you want, or if things don’t pan out, they’re easier to get out of. Usually, there will be a period of 21 days notice you as the tenant need to give to leave, and a period of 90 days notice for a landlord to give a tenant notice.
A Fixed Term lease gives you the security of having a place to live for the fixed period of time as long as you don’t violate anything in the agreement. However, it also means that if you have a horrible experience and want to leave the flat, you’re committed to that lease and are in essence stuck until it ends unless the landlord or property manager agrees to release you.
When it comes to a lease, another important consideration is whose name is on the lease. If you sign the lease, then the property is in your name, even if you live with other flatmates who pay rent. That means that you are responsible for making sure that rent is paid on time and the property is well maintained. It can mean that if someone doesn’t pay their rent on time, or moves out, it is your responsibility to organize new flatmates and cover costs.
This is a big one when it comes to the harmony of your flat. Whether the people you are thinking of living with are people you know or are new to you, setting up some ‘flat rules’ is an important part of the process.
Some of the things to discuss are:
- Parties – whether they’re allowed, who is responsible for any damages incurred etc.
- Locking up when you leave the flat (you’d be surprised how many people will leave the flat unlocked thinking that there was someone else home).
- Sharing – discuss things like groceries and cooking. Some flats will be quite communal, whereas others will separate their possessions down to the last grain of rice (ok maybe not quite that strictly).
Once you are out on your own living in a flat, you will start to learn more about the way you like to live and the kind of people you like to live with. It is all good learning that you can take with you on your next journey. There is of course more to flatting than what’s mentioned here, but hopefully, this helps you get an idea of things to consider for your first!
Written by Samantha Chalmers