Renting Apartments – What to Expect in the UK (part 3)

We completed and sent in the forms to the agency on the same night and in morning I received a very reassuring phone call from one of their reps, letting me know that the ones I had been e-mailing back and forth with the other day were a little confused and that my immigration status absolutely wasn’t a problem and they were going to proceed with checking my husband’s information and let us know.

The person I spoke to was very sweet and while I didn’t pry, they did say that they had personally dealt with the UKBA themselves at one point in their lives and understood the bureaucracy of the whole thing. I hadn’t realised how much it had bothered me until they called to put me at ease once more.

I still wonder, however, how differently it might have gone had they not had someone who was in-the-know. What if the agency was being run by people who are largely anti-immigrant? I was very intentional on my initial e-mails (it was no coincidence on my part that I opted to do that over phone conversations) to prospective properties to hyphenate my surname, as I have read and heard multiple stories of people who have been given the run-around on account that their names and/or accents were “too foreign.”

I know more than anyone that this does not by any means reflect the feelings of every single person in the UK, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when we stumble upon someone who is insecure (I’m putting it nicely, I swear). 

Getting back onto topic, the person on the phone said that they would be following up on my husband’s references  and we would know the verdict as soon as they were done. There was no lie there – I got a call that evening confirming that the place is ours aside from making some final payments and picking up the keys.

We’ll be getting the keys from the landlady on the 14th, but before that we will be stopping in at the letting agency to sign and hand over the first month’s rent along with a damage deposit. My SIL has indirectly hinted that she’s willing to help us which we will likely accept on account that her vehicle is large enough to take the bigger pieces of furniture. The largest pieces are the wardrobe and the bed, and it’s kind of a tossup on which one is the more awkward of the two.

After we’ve met with the letting agents, I’ll start the packing process. The one nice thing about going from a one-room lifestyle to a place of our own is that everything is contained to one room and even if I take it slowly it wouldn’t keep occupied beyond a day.

Once we’re moved in, the next phase of the operation will start: nesting. It’s an old building, and if the EPC is to be believed, we’re looking at something with little to no insulation on the outside walls.

What’s an EPC? Energy Performance Certificates are handy references, as the name would imply, they are basically calculated assessments of the energy performance of a property. For reference, our new place has an EPC rating of E, but it does have the potential to be C with some improvements made.

In the UK, poor insulation is a major problem. As renters our options are somewhat limited on what we can do since it’s rather frowned upon to rip down walls and pad them ourselves.

That said, there are some tricks I’ve got up my sleeves that are both fairly inexpensive and renter-friendly, so look forward to that in the coming months. In addition to this, there will be the fun and excitement of adjusting to using a pre-payment system for our heat/electricity. It’s usually more expensive this way, but that’s how the place is set up, which is really reason  number two on my next pet project will be energy conservation (you know, aside from being just good to do anyway).

On a side note: until we have set up a landline (it is a requirement in the UK), there likely will not be an internet connection (an assumption I am making since the area we are moving to is a bit far from the city and free wi-fi points are scarce/weak once you get out into the sticks), so don’t be alarmed if it takes awhile to get the next set of updates on the move. Once it is established, however, there will likely be posts en masse so apologies in advance if you end up feeling a tad bit spammed. 

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