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From pests to permits:

Rental red flags to look out for 

Comments by James Brown, Director at

Protect Your Bubble 

Searching for a new rental property can be a daunting task. As rental costs and demand rise, people can spend a lot of their time looking for a suitable place to live. 


One study found that on average, there is a queue of 25 people looking to view a rental property, a stark increase from just six in 2019.  


With the challenges of finding a new place to live, it’s essential to look beyond the initial appeal and be vigilant about red flags that could indicate future problems. Here are some rental red flags to look out for before signing a lease… 

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Poor property maintenance 


One survey found that nearly 50 percent of renters feel that they are living in potentially dangerous living conditions. During your visit, pay close attention to the overall condition of the property and look for signs of neglect, such as peeling paint, broken fixtures, or unkempt common areas.  


A poorly maintained property often indicates a lack of regular upkeep, which could lead to more significant issues down the line, such as plumbing or electrical problems. Don’t be afraid to test light switches, turn on taps and flush the toilets to make sure that things function as they should.  


Sign of pests 


It may be easy to miss tell-tale signs of pests if you’re only having a cursory look around. However, small creatures can be a big pain, so it is worth looking out for evidence of pest infestations. 


Look for signs of droppings, chew marks and nests in corners and cabinets. If an infestation hasn’t been dealt with previously, it can be especially hard to get rid of.  

If there are signs of a pest infestation and you decide to rent the property, make sure that the pest infestation is noted in writing before moving in.  


Water damage and mould 


The most recent English Housing Survey revealed that around one million homes in the UK experience damp problems, a majority of which are experienced in private rented homes.  


Persistent leaks, even if they seem minor, can lead to significant water damage over time. Keep an eye out for signs of water damage, such as stains on walls or ceilings, bubbling paint or a musty smell. Future water damage could cause significant damage to furniture and personal items.  

Look for signs of leaks around plumbing fixtures such as sinks, toilets and showers. Keep an eye out for dampness, or water stains in these areas. Additionally, check the condition of caulking and seals around tubs, showers, and sinks, as deteriorated seals can allow water to seep into walls and floors. 


Mould growth can also pose significant health risks, and can be difficult to remove. Mould is most likely to occur in high-moisture areas so be sure to have a proper look around kitchens, bathrooms and windows for any signs of mould 


Poor security measures 

Poor security measures can pose a significant safety risk. Look out for broken window closures, locks that don’t work properly and poor exterior lighting as these can all make the property vulnerable to a break-in. 


When viewing a rental property you’ll want to test the closures of windows and doors to make sure that they close and lock properly. 

Don't overlook common areas and shared spaces in multi-unit buildings. Hallways and stairwells should be well-lit and have secure entry points.  


Illegal conversion 


There are strict regulations that dictate what renovations property owners can and can’t do. This could involve converting a garage into a flat or splitting on flat into two. In one recent case, a landlord was fined £220,000 for illegally converting a house into six flats.  


If you’re viewing a rental that looks like it may be a conversion, be sure to check that the property has the required permits. Illegal conversions can be a safety hazard to tenants if they don’t meet required safety regulations, like having safe emergency exits in the event of a fire.  


Prospective renters can view planning decisions on or local council websites.  

James Brown, Director
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