26/08/2014 06:49 BST | Updated 13/10/2014 06:59 BST

9 Things You Should Ask When Renting A Flat

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There's a reason that the British are obsessed with owning property. It's because being a tenant hasn't changed much since feudal times.

In the eyes of many landlords, renters are no more than common peasants, preordained to live in squalor by virtue of their birth.

That can be the only explanation for the way I, and my friends, have been treated over the years.

If this isn't true, landlords would find it morally unacceptable to charge people disproportionately large sums of money to live in inadequately insulated, poorly ventilated and shoddily maintained property. Wouldn't they?

Negligent, entitled and lazy property-owners have systematically degraded our renting class for decades. But fear not, my comrades. We can fight back.

Here are some of my favourite examples, from my own life, to get you in the fighting spirit.

A five-minute email session with my mates, who have now mostly earned, borrowed and begged their way out of serfdom, brought back vivid painful memories for us all.

"We had a landlord when I first moved to London who would come around unannounced regularly," said one close friend.

"We'd be treated to tales of his terrible waterworks problems, any cigarettes left out were fair game to him - he'd just help himself, but usually it was rolling tobacco that he wanted. Or our weed.

"We did say, several times, that he needed to give us permission and he couldn't just let himself him. He laughed it off saying it was his house that he used to live in and he missed it."

Another friend taking a stroll down memory lane remembered when a rental agent refused to get the cracks in her windows fixed, saying it 'wasn't possible'. Despite the fact that large blocks of ice had formed on the inside.

And just recently, my best friend had the joy to discover that it rained indoors in her brand-new, purpose-built flat, due to shoddy construction.

Perhaps it didn't matter to them that the ceiling might leak. After, it was built for renters.

I'm sorry if I'm scaring you with this blog, but being a renter is a soul-destroying business. So it's better to arm yourself with a keen sense of self-preservation, a grim sense of humour, and a strict list of questions before heading on into the fray.

You could start with these...

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