Luckily, the Umega family is blessed with so many different nationalities amongst our team, tenants and landlords.
Here’s a neat little 10 point guide written by some of our international employees on things they would have loved to have known before relocating and renting a property in Edinburgh. So here goes…
1.Most tenement Buildings in Edinburgh are ooold, but very beautiful!
Most buildings in Edinburgh are old, as they date back to the 19th, 18th, 17th and even 16th centuries; it makes the city look beautiful and creates that famous Harry Potter feel, but it also means that many properties also have that same old character on the inside.Naturally, Edinburgh prides itself on its incredible architecture. Don’t expect high-rise brand-spanking-new buildings left, right, and centre (there are plenty though!). This city is full of history, right down to the stone our houses are built from. Full of charm, character and tradition. In 1824 “The Great Fire of Edinburgh” wiped out most of Edinburgh’s “Old Town” and many buildings were rebuilt to replicate what had stood there before. This might mean that the property you rent will be of an older age, but just think of all the wonderful things those bricks have seen through 3 centuries!
2. Seeing mice in Edinburgh properties is very common
Along with the old buildings, there might come some uninvited friends; mice. The old stonework and beautiful wooden flooring can include tiny wee holes which are gateways for mice to navigate between properties. This is not anything to be frightened of (the mice have been in the city longer than the people!), just bare in mind that it is not unusual in Edinburgh to see a wee mouse in the house, darting across the carpet. For properties in Edinburgh, it’s better to try and prevent mice being interested in visiting your new home, rather than attempting to remove them for good. Read more about how to do so in our handy mice blog right here.
3. The importance of properties having a good EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)
EPCs are a measurement of how energy efficient the overall property is. The energy efficiency is rated on a scale from A (very efficient) to G (not efficient). The rating will let the tenant know how costly it will be to keep the property roasty toasty, like a marshmallow on a campfire, and what the carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be. Therefore, up north in the brisk Scottish weather, where you might need to heat your home slightly more than the Costa del Sol, the higher the EPC should mean the less money you will need to spend on energy bills. Keeping your flat warm but, importantly, ventilated will ensure no dreaded condensation or mould develops in the property. Chilly weather outside and toasty heating inside is the perfect environment for pesky condensation. We have written a helpful guide for tenants on how to avoid condensation and mould right here.
4. Most Properties have their own boiler. Wait… What’s a boiler?
A boiler is a vessel where water is heated and is used to heat up the property. While in some countries the norm is for buildings to have shared boilers serving the whole building, in Edinburgh it is normal to have a separate boiler for each flat hidden away in a small cupboard. So if a problem occurs with a lack of heating or hot water, it is probably to do with an issue with the boiler in that specific property. If this happens, there is help to be found for Umega tenants right here.
5. Edinburgh flats normally come furnished
Yes, this also normally includes things like utensils, plates and cups. But this doesn’t mean it cannot be made personal. There are many tips on how to make a furnished flat a home, no matter if that means having the living room made into an art studio or having the full cast of Star Wars, including the Death Star in lego obviously, invading the bedroom. No matter what a home means to the tenant, a furnished flat doesn’t mean it is impossible to make a flat your sanctuary. If the furniture included in the property really is the make or break, it is possible to rent a small storage unit to store the Landlord’s furniture – just remember to leave the property with the furnishings that were there when moving in..and in all the right places too!
6. Going to a viewing is necessary to be eligible to apply for a property
In Edinburgh, and the rest of the UK, it is not normally possible to apply for a property before having seen it. This rule is mainly in place to protect the tenant since, just like an image on Tinder, the photos could have been taken 3 years ago and with a sneaky filter. No one wants to be catfished by their own new home. The same could be the case for a property you choose to put a deposit on before having seen. Luckily, unlike a Tinder date, you can ask your friend to visit the property on your behalf. Find a helpful Umega guide here on what to look for when going to a viewing.
7. If you are a student you will need to have a Guarantor.
What is a Guarantor? A Guarantor if you are a student from the UK, would most likely be a parent or relative. It is a person based in the UK (with a UK bank account), who agrees to pay the rent if the tenant is unable to do so. What is known as a “co-signer” in America is not the same as a guarantor. If you do not have a UK based guarantor, Umega normally asks for 3-6 months rent in advance and a double deposit. Still unsure? Never fear, find out more right here.
8. What is that extra bill called Council Tax, and what does it include?
Council tax is something paid separately from your normal tax and is not included in the rent, as it is a separate expense. Council tax includes your payment for water and sewerage, and is a cost per property – it doesn’t depend on the number of occupants. Edinburgh Council also uses some of the money to keep the city neat and tidy. The council tax fee can vary considerably depending on which part of the city the property is situated, and it’s therefore an important aspect to check when allowing for monthly budgeting, so as not to be surprised. Students are exempt from paying council tax, provided they apply to exemption – lucky them! It is possible to decide for yourself when to pay council tax, so it might be helpful to read more about the options right here.
9. Utilities like heating & electricity are expenses not included in the rent… Oh yes, and then there is the cost for TV licensing.
Utilities like gas and electricity are separate providers to the landlord or letting agency. The flat already comes with a supplier in place which is determined by what the previous occupier(s) used. But it is free to change provider, so it is important to do the research to check which one is the best. There is more information on types of gas and electric meters the property might have right here. And then there is the TV licensing; you need one TV license per household and it is possible to pay this monthly, quarterly and yearly. If you’re confused, there’s more info to be found here.
10. There’s a Festival every year in Edinburgh which will change the whole city and fill the streets with entertainment and enlarge the city population
Just as Edinburgh’s newest tenants settle in the city, the city goes through the transformation of the year. Every year. Each August, Edinburgh’s world-wide famous Fringe Festival hits the streets, and the city is damn near unrecognisable! Venues, bars, and shows all pop up out of seemingly impossibly small spaces, and what is already a city full of narrow streets will be suddenly packed with festival goers. Normally the city’s population grows to double the size during August! Brace yourself, crowds are coming. But who doesn’t like different once in a while?! Keeps it fresh. Tenants in Edinburgh might just be the envy of all their friends, and might suddenly become a lot more popular with a swanky pad in the heart of the action.
We hope this has been a helpful guide to understanding the mysterious ways of the Edinburgh properties, and it is important to emphasise that you do have rights as a tenant.
Welcome to Edinburgh! 🙂