Looking to rent in York? Questions to ask

18th November 2019

It’s exciting looking for a place to rent, especially in York which is relatively compact and has some great housing stock. You’ll save yourself a lot of time – and potential heartache – if you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and ask the right questions of your agent or landlord. Follow our step by step guide to the questions you should be asking:

What’s most important to you?

  • Do you want a house or flat? Furnished or unfurnished property?
  • Do you want parking or to be close to a bus stop or the station?
  • Is it important to live somewhere quiet or do you thrive on hustle and bustle?
  • Do you want a garden/ shared garden/ outdoor space?
  • Is it important to be near good local schools?

Before you book a viewing…

  • When do you want to move? There’s no point looking at a property that’s available immediately if you’re not in a position to move within a month.
  • Do you have photo id such as a passport?  As part of the government Right To Rent checks, agents have to check the identity of all tenants.
  • Do you have any outstanding debts, such as a CCJ or repayment plans?  If yes, ensure you have certificate of satisfaction to show that you have paid off the CCJ, or have proof of a repayment plan. If you’re not sure, do a credit check on yourself.
  • As part of a tenancy application, you will be asked for proof of where you live, wage slips, bank statements, etc. By having everything ready and to hand, you can demonstrate that you’re serious about moving and a good potential tenant.

Viewing a property

The area

  • Could you walk or cycle to work? Check parking and/ or public transport links
  • Would feel safe coming and going at night?
  • Has the property ever flooded?


  • First impressions really count. If the paintwork’s peeling, the window frames are cracked or the gutter has holes, it’s a sign the property hasn’t been well-maintained. If it still wins your heart, consider making it a condition of contract that they’re fixed.
  • If there’s a garden, who maintains it? If there are shared outdoor or indoor spaces, how does that work?
  • Look out for signs of mould, especially in danger areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Check for mouse droppings and cracks or holes in the walls where they might get in.
  • How do you report any maintenance issues? How quickly are tradesmen on the scene? Letters has a 24/7 reporting app to ensure any issues are quickly dealt with.

Day to day living

  • What’s the internet speed like?
  • Are there enough electric sockets? Do all the light switches and any lamps work?
  • Do all windows and doors open and close? Are the locks secure?
  • Are the curtains/blinds effective at keeping out the light? Check for any draughts.
  • If there are white goods in the property, ask whether they’ll still be there when you move in. Are they clean and in good working order? What happens if they go wrong?
  • If the property’s furnished, what exactly is included? A TV, for example?
  • Is there any storage? If you have a bike, where would that go?
  • Would your prized sofa actually fit in?
  • Flush the loo and try the hot and cold taps, and the shower. Is the water pressure high enough? How’s the water heated?


  • Are smoke alarms and CO2 detectors fitted? There should be at least one smoke alarm on every floor, and a CO (carbon monoxide) alarm in rooms with solid fuel appliances such as a coal fire or wood burning stove. When were they last checked and who does the on-going checks?
  • Check the property has a gas safety certificate and a current Electrical Condition Report
  • Do you have an adequate escape route in case of fire?
  • What insurance does the landlord have to cover the property? What would you need to insure yourself?
  • Is it a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO)? This usually applies to property that is three or more storeys and occupied by five or more people who are not in the same family. If it is a licensed HMO, the property should have more safeguards for the tenants, such as fire doors.
  • Has the property got a Legionella risk sssessment?


  • What’s the council tax band and energy rating? A good letting agent will include these on its property details.
  • Who’s responsible for bills such as electricity, gas, water and council tax?
  • How much is the security deposit?

If you decide to take it

  • Read the contract carefully and ask about anything that isn’t clear.
  • Make sure you’re issued with a current gas safety certificate, as required by law.
  • Make sure you are issued with the property’s energy performance certificate, as required by law
  • Get details of the deposit protection scheme and your own signed copy of the tenancy agreement.  Make sure you are issued with the deposit protection scheme leaflet and prescribed pages
  • Who’s managing the property? If it’s the landlord rather than the letting agency, make sure you have their contact details and know who to contact in an emergency.
  • Closely check the inventory & schedule of condition and make a note of all meter readings on the day you move in. Ensure you return the inventory & schedule of condition to the agent/Landlord with any notes or comments – you cannot disagree with its contents at the end of tenancy if it’s not noted on your signed copy.

At Letters our sole focus is letting and managing properties in a responsible and respectful manner. We work hard to help tenants find their ideal home to rent and to ensure they find letting a positive experience. Our long-standing and experienced lettings team is very happy to talk you through the lettings process and answer any questions you have. Please click here to view our current available properties to rent – or contact us with any further questions or for an informal chat.