(sadly not my new flat, source)
As you may have guessed from some hints in my previous posts, I've been offered a new job. This means I'm heading back to Birmingham, and the world of political policy, which I'm very excited about.
This of course also means moving, unless I fancy getting a train at 6am (which I really don't). I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that moving is one of the most stressful things that a person can go through and I'm already feeling that.
On the plus side, the internet makes flat hunting really easy. Sites like Right Move and Zoopla make it easy to browse through flats with your budget and needs in mind. The former's mobile app is especially good and easy to use. Obviously there are things to look out for; namely the over-zealous use of fish-eye lenses and stretching photos in the hope that you'll be lulled into thinking the flat is about five times its' actual size. I can also feel my blood pressure increasing at how awful some properties are, and that landlords don't think twice about charging people £400 for a flat that doesn't look much bigger than my current bedroom. But I've been quite happily saving properties and trying to arrange viewings in addition to working all of the hours some miles away from Birmingham.
And then I thought I'd found The One. It was in a perfect location; central but quiet with enough greenery to stop you feeling like you were living in a concrete jungle. It had high ceilings with a lot of light and a lot more space than I was expecting. It was towards the top end of my budget but would literally be a fifteen minute walk to work. It needed a bit of TLC after having had an obviously long-term tenant with an interesting interpretation of cleanliness. But on the whole, perfect. I told the agent I'd consider moving forward and then went on a celebratory splurge in Zara.
Then I remembered the EPC. This is an Energy Performance Certificate which is legally required to be shown to prospective tenants as it is a solid suggestion of how much it might cost to heat your home. My dream flat's EPC grade: an F. The second lowest. In 2018, it will be illegal for landlords to rent properties with a grade so low. In denial, I set about googling energy tariffs only to find it would probably cost me more than my parents pay to heat a four bed detached house for four people. After desperately trying to figure out a way for it to be affordable (the internet's not essential is it?), I sent an email to the letting agents saying that unless the landlord was planning on doing some efficiency changes I probably wouldn't be able to afford to live in the flat.
Whilst I'm desperately hoping that I'll get an email back saying that the landlord is in fact planning on replacing the boiler, double glazing the windows and insulating the walls; I somehow doubt that will happen. So if you need me, I'll be refreshing Right Move and trying not to panic about only having a little over a month to find somewhere to live (*nervous laughter*) .
Note: If you've recently bought or leased a house with a low efficency grade you can get help from the government to improve its eco-friendlyness; more here