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Gosh, renting is expensive! And not for the obvious reasons either

Renting, on both sides of the property divide, has been a lot on my mind lately. Why you may ask?

Well, after five years of boomeranging sons (I am not even sure that this is a proper verb but I mean that they moved in back with us multiple times) they are finally in a position to rent their own place. As Lady Luck would have it, they found a lovely two bedroom house – clean, warm and just big enough. To top it all, the house is close enough to ours so they can come for Sunday lunch but far enough to take advantage of us on a more regular basis. Given that it is near the best and most expensive part of Manchester (though not in it) the rent is acceptable and they can afford it.

This event, welcomed by all, put renting and costs it involves – before one has even paid the rent – at the top of our minds and to the bottom of our bank account.

On the one hand, we are suddenly finding ourselves with too much house – going down from five to three people living here is possibly an indicator. What really convinced me is that now we have one more bathrooms than people living in the house. Told you – too much house! And too much mortgage, too much bills too much…well, too much equity as well but some decisions have to be made. I am not becoming a slave to a house!

So we are thinking of two options: staying in the house and renting out a room or two, or selling this house and buying a smaller one to live in and an apartment to rent out. In any case we have been checking out the expenses including the additional insurance against the elements, maintenance and management costs, and insurance against human silliness and folly also known as landlords insurance. A decision is yet to be made but looking at the costs of having a rental property it may be more prudent at the moment to stay put and have a ‘Monday to Friday’ person.

Let’s move to the other side – the costs of renting. Naturally, our sons will have to organise and pay for their content insurance, electricity and gas bills, internet, telephone and cable, and generally the things we have come to see as absolute necessities for civilised existence – it is a different matter whether they really are. But before we get to this John and I had to put down a truck load of money (over £1,100/$1,768 ) and a mountain of hustle. We had to:

Pay for background checks

This is to check that our sons are not criminals wanted by the law, they are not perverts of any kind and that their credit score is half decent. In principle, not a bad thing – if there were any rented houses around us I would probably want to know what kind of person is moving in; this does raise the small issue of what do people who have been to prison do – sleep rough? No wonder so many re-offend!

What I found really objectionable is that these checks cost £420/$682!

Pay the deposit

This is pretty standard but still – we did pay £700/$1,137 as a deposit. Good news is that the regulations in the UK changed and now the deposit is kept in a separate account rather than being sent to the landlord.

Guarantee  the rent

Apparently, one son working for less than an year and the other fresh out of university and looking for a job doesn’t make them reliable rent paying material. So I had to guarantee the rent – which on its own is not a problem. I know my sons will pay their own rent; and they know that they better do because if I have to step in they are straight out of my will!

What I can’t figure out is where is the trust gone? I still remember the time when we will give our post code, may be asked about our income and given a document to sign. Not anymore! This time, the agent wrote to the HR officer at the university where I work (at Faculty level and this is rather large); than the HR officer coyly asked me whether I would allow them to disclose the information; than the agent approached me again; and after that my signature had to be witnessed. Mad and time consuming – HR officers are busy people and don’t need to justify their pay!

So as you can see, renting is expensive any odd way you look at it! And this is even before you have started paying your rent.

17 thoughts on “Gosh, renting is expensive! And not for the obvious reasons either”

  1. So expensive….it’s sad that you had to go through tons of hoops to guarantee the rental payments. I’ll bet that only happens because too many people decided to cheat others. Soon you’ll have to withdraw your blood!

    • @AverageJoe: I am not convinced it is because many people tried to cheat. It seems a bit like what has been happening at Airports – something happened and was used to change the job description of the people working at airport. They used to be there to help the passanger (customer in this case). Now, we travellers have become the enemy – so the ritual humiliation during travel.

  2. We downsized 15 years ago when our children graduated from college.  We rented our 5 bedroom house for a few years and rented a townhouse or two to figure out if we would like it. We bought one in a still different location and sold our house about a year later. We cut our expenses almost in half.

    • @Krant: Sounds very tempting. But thsi one is not easy to figure out for the following reasons: a) we still have a son who is 11; and b) our house belongs to the category that is still increasing in price (even during a down turn) because very large houses in great location and top schools at a walking distance are very few.

    • @Lance: We are going to check this one out. I am hearing a rumor that this background checks can be done much cheaper (at the rate you are mentioning) and that this particular estate agent is using a very expensive company that is linked to them too close for comfort. But as I said, for this price I would expect to know the genetic profile of my sons.

  3. We downsized 20 years ago when all the kids were gone and the parents either passed on or in a nursing home.  We had 5 bedrooms and we had rooms we only went into to clean – but they needed to be kept aired to prevent damp and, to be quite frank, a house built in 1850 in a gothic style, on 4 floors + the attic was keeping us poor.

    We sold and bought on the other side of the park. A 3 bedroom workman’s cottage built in 1903 and much simpler architecture.

    Good move! 

    • @Miss T: Here they check whether people are on different registers (like the child molesters’ one, for instance). This sounds safe but creats its own problems: we have had cases where people have been killed by a mob and its was a mistaken identity.

  4. I have never been on the landlord side of the fence but the amount your quoted sounds a LOT more than what it costs in the US. You are considering renting out to your sons? Sorry for this stupid question, may be I am still jetlagged or something, why would the agent contact your employer for checking on your son?

    • @Suba: Sons are moving out; we are considering renting our some of the space vacated by them (easier than living with them and they are at ageas when they need their space and to start their lives). They contacted my employer because I guarantee the rent.

  5. We are steadily preparing to downsize.  Doing a few things to our present home and looking forward to less house and yard to keep up.  It’s a necessary evil, I guess, but it is a huge undertaking.  From your description, it sounds as if taking in renters would be a serious possibility due to your location.  That might be the easier path for now.

    • @Cil: We still have a littlie with us (11 years old) – yeah, I know. We just thought that spreading the child years is a good idea at the time. Frankly, it is lovely to have grown up children and one who is growing up but…we have to be very carefull with the decisions we take regarding the house. Still thinking!

  6. I totally agree with you. I’ve just moved to the UK, nevertheless I couldn’t even think about renting a flat on my own without a CRB check and proving my salary with my contract (i don’t have a credit history in the UK). After that I had to come up with a 6-week deposit + rent one month in advance + plus admin fee….. Where does it end?
    And the fact that opening a bank account in the UK (despite the fact that I am an EU citizen) needs an interview at the bank and a proof of adress here simply infuriates me. Excuse me, but how could I get one if I was subletting a room without any contract and couldn’t get a monthly contract on my phone?! I had to wait a week for a NINO interview postal invitation, which is the first proof of fixed adress an expatriate can get in the United Kingdom…. I really love this place but some rules & laws are just insane! 


    • @Chris: I know! And you know what? This is really nothing compared to what happens in some countries on the continent! Ol’ good Europe need a bit of shaking up, it seems. As to the matter of renting, we just heared that the Landlord has dished out a lot of money to the estate agent as well. It looks like this needs very careful looking into (and a different post, of course).

      • @Maria: You’re probably right, but I haven’t moved anywhere else though. On the other hand, if you follow the rules here, this place feels a lot safer and much more peaceful. Regarding the estate agents…. I tend to approach them in a rather reserved way. I’ve got a weird feeling that these guys just want to scam me. Anyway, I’m viewing a flat today which seems (in the pictures) as a really decent one this time, from an agency which seems decent. Fingers crossed! 


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