Our tips for renting in a town where there are no houses to rent

Our quest for a new home – Finding a house to rent in a town with no rentals

I don’t know if its just in the North West, or if its difficult anywhere these days to find a decent rented house. However when we moved house 6 years ago, we had no trouble finding something to move into. There were loads of houses to rent and they were on the market for a while before they were taken. 

The whole thing back then seemed much less stressful! No there are fewer houses and more people wanting them. Here’s a little about how we’ve managed to find a rental in that kind of market.

A bit of background about our move 

Since we started working in Lancaster we’ve toyed with the idea of moving to the city. About 2 years ago we knew we wanted to move house but hadn’t decided where. About a year ago I turned on alerts for properties to rent on Rightmove. If you haven’t heard of Rightmove and you are thinking about renting, that website will be your bible. However, it wasn’t ours this time- amazingly! 

Tip #1 Setting up alerts for your ideal home 

The site allows you to search for properties to rent or buy in your area or the area you want to live in. I set up alerts for our current town, a town nearby that we were thinking about possibly moving to, the city we work in and a town close to that. 

For a while I got quite a few notifications, but recently… The alerts have barely made a difference to my inbox. There are very few suitable houses that match the criteria I put in (3 beds, under £800, houses – so nothing too limiting). So I barely heard anything. Occasionally there would be a flurry of new houses added that were suitable. But not a lot. 

Starting taking them seriously

About a month ago I started taking more notice of the ones nearer work. We made the decision to move this August and the time was coming to look around the houses. I started asking T about them and emailing letting agents when something nice came up. However we found that if I didn’t email the agent within a couple of hours of the listing going live – we wouldn’t even get a viewing! 

Tip #2 Act fast! 

There are that many people around my area looking for good sized 3 bedroom houses that there would be a waiting list for viewings. Often I would be told that the viewings were booked up until the next week and the agencies would let me know if nothing came from them. I wouldn’t hear anything back and the house would disappear from the site. 

Tip #3 Arrange viewings quickly 

Around 3 weeks ago I started emailing the agents straight away – within an hour of getting the alert that a new property had been added. However, each time I would try and arrange a viewing after work on the days I finish slightly early, or at the weekend. And by the time the day of the viewing would come round – an application would be processed. 

Tip #4 try not to let the rental process get you down 

Last week was the lowest I’d been with it all. We had seen a gorgeous house, easily big enough in a decent part of town. It came on the rental market late in the day on the Monday, we emailed within an hour of it being listed. They replied first thing Tuesday morning saying we could view after work on the Wednesday. Easy! We arrived, looked around, loved it and were told that there had already been an application put in but the landlord didn’t want to cancel any other viewings which had already been arranged and we could also be put forward if we liked it. It all started feeling like we’d never find anything.. 

Going up against another prospective tenant 

I guess that is what it feels like when you are buying and someone else is going in with an offer. The landlord would consider how quickly we could move in, our family make up, if we smoke/have pets etc. And would essentially pit prospective tenants against each other to see who looked better on paper. I didn’t want that. Especially as we couldn’t move for another month so instantly the other applicant looks better if they can move in quicker. So we decided not to go for it. 

More searching 

This was what we expected our life to be like for the next 4 to 6 weeks while we tried to find something. There were more house viewings booked for this week and I was fully expecting to go to them and find the same kind of information from the agencies.

Tip #5 look elsewhere 

However, I had also started looking elsewhere, on Facebook marketplace, Gumtree and other sites. About 3 or 4 weeks ago I stumbled upon a site called OpenRent which allows landlords to list properties without an agent. But which is all credited and safe, unlike just renting of a random ear on FAcebook. Following investigation on Openrent I found a new build listed which stated it would be ready in August for a tenant to move into… It was almost too good to be true. I got in touch with them, asked about its progress and strikes up a conversation with the landlord. 

A happy new beginning 

The new build was ahead of schedule and completed just over a week ago… thankfully we were able to act fast and arrange a viewing on the second possible day. We viewed it and fell in love. A 3 bedroom house with a garden and driveway within walking distance of both our workplaces and Spike’s new school. Heaven. What’s more, out of a number of perspective tenants, we were chosen and we move in next month! It all sounded too good to be true. But the tenancy agreement I’ve signed suggests otherwise! It’s happy new house time!