Property Guide: Looking to Rent
Find out more about renting a property with our handy guide.
Thinking of renting a property whilst you save up to buy a house? The world of renting can be confusing and you could lose money if you don't know what you're doing. Follow our basic guide to help you get off to the best start.
What do you want?
Don't waste your time looking at properties that you wouldn't really want to live in. Make a list of the things that are important to you, so that you can compare one rental property with another. Your list might include access to public transport, distance to schools, a garden or off-street parking. You might also want to decide whether you're looking for a furnished or unfurnished house to rent and if you want to be close to local amenities, your workplace or your family.
What can you afford?
Work out how much you can afford to pay out each month. Remember that you don't just have to pay rent – you'll have bills and other expenses to meet. If you're struggling financially, or trying to save money, think about renting a room in a shared house rather than having a rented house or flat all to yourself. Find out how you could rent a property at the same time as letting one out by taking mortgage advice.
What should you remember?
There are several things you need to think about before you commit to renting a house, flat or room:
Checking out the landlord – landlords have a lot of legal responsibilities, but not all landlords take those responsibilities seriously. From providing a fire extinguisher in the kitchen to giving you a detailed inventory of furnishings, fixtures and fittings, you need to know that your landlord is complying with their obligations. Ask if your landlord is a member of the National Landlords Association. You could also try your local council, who may be able to tell you if they have had any complaints about your landlord. Make sure that your deposit is covered by a tenancy deposit scheme, which makes the rules of the deposit clear and fair, and helps tenants to get all or part of the deposit back at the end of the rental period.
Your tenancy agreement – the agreement you sign when renting a house is a binding contract between you and the landlord. Your landlord will probably have a standard tenancy agreement, which you should read and understand before you sign. If you need to, you can agree additional provisions with your landlord and these can be added to your agreement as long as they are within the law.
Assured shorthold tenancy – if you rent a house or other property through a landlord or letting agent, you will probably take out an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This tenancy typically lasts for an initial period of 6 months and you will then be able to renew the tenancy. This is the most common form of tenancy agreement and gives both you and the landlord some flexibility and guarantees. If you're looking for a longer tenancy period, you must make it clear when you enquire about the rental.
Protecting your deposit – make sure that you go through the inventory as soon as you move in, marking areas that you think have been missed, or where you feel the description isn't clear. Keep a copy and send the marked-up version back to your landlord or letting agent within 7 days of moving in. Ask for a written receipt. This will help you to accurately inspect the property before you leave – preferably in the company of your landlord.
Sub-letting –you must never sub-let your rental home without getting your landlord's permission. If you are leaving the property for a period – to travel, or for work, or to look after a relative – you can sub-let, but you must talk it through with your landlord first. You will still be responsible for the property even if someone else is living there, because the tenancy agreement will remain in your name.
Sharing your property – if you're moving into a room in a shared house, or you're thinking of renting a house with friends, you need to be sure that you set out clear ground rules. Each person living in the rental property needs to be responsible for their share of the rent and all the bills, and also needs to take responsibility for keeping the property in good condition. Check out potential new house-mates carefully to make sure they can afford their share and get references from previous landlords if you can.
Help and advice – if you are having trouble with your existing landlord, or you are worried about finding a property to rent, you can visit Shelter's website, which has lots of useful information about finding accommodation, dealing with housing benefit and making sure your rights are protected. You can also talk to your local Citizens Advice Bureau, where trained advisers can help you to find the information you need.
Find out whether buying would be cheaper than renting - contact a mortgage broker
Most useful and most popular pages on this site:
Look for your First Property l Seek First Time Buyer Mortgage Advice l See our Best First Mortgages Comparison Table l Find out about First Time Buyer Mortgages l Find out How to Buy a House l Learn all about The First Time Buyer Mortgage l Shared Ownership l Part Buy Part Rent