The ultimate guide to renting a property in the UK
Before looking for your perfect place, consider how long you would like to commit to living in a new home. A rental agreement is legally binding, so it is important to decide from the outset whether you are looking for a short-term let or somewhere you can stay for a longer period.
Work out how much you can afford. You will need to have enough money to pay your first month’s rent upfront in addition to a deposit, which will usually be equivalent to five or six weeks’ rent.
Decide on your must-haves. How much space do you need? Do you need a garden? How about parking or a garage space? Which location do you need to be in and how far outside that area are you willing to go? Do you have a pet who will be moving with you?
Consider when you would like to move in. A landlord will want to minimise the amount of time their property is vacant, so it can be helpful to shortlist properties which are available as close as possible to your preferred moving date.
Preparing the paperwork
It is a good idea to get all your paperwork in order before you start viewing potential properties. Demand for good rental properties can be high, and having everything ready to go will help you stand out from the competition.
You will need to be able to prove who you are, with a passport, driving licence, national identity card, immigration status document or similar. You will also need to prove where you live and how much you earn. The landlord or agent will need to be confident you can afford the rent and that you have a steady income. If you are employed, your contract and three most recent payslips will usually suffice. If you are self-employed, you may need to show a previous tax return or bank statements going back several months.
Looking for your new home
Online sites like Rightmove and Zoopla are a good place to start your property search. It is also important to register with local agents. Some properties are so popular they never make it to an online listing.
Questions to ask when you have found a place
The first question to ask is what type of tenancy agreement you will be asked to sign and for how long the agreement will be valid. The landlord must allow you to stay in the property for a minimum of six months, and most tenancies will be for a fixed term of either six or twelve months.
Next, ask about the deposit. If the total annual rent will be less than £50,000, the maximum deposit allowed is five weeks’ rent. If the annual rent is £50,000 or above, the maximum amount a deposit can be will be six weeks’ rent. The deposit must be refundable at the end of the tenancy, assuming you keep the property in good condition and pay your rent promptly each month.
Talk to the landlord or agent about who is responsible for paying utility bills such as gas, electricity, water and council tax. When you move in, it can also be helpful to know which companies are currently supplying the property.
Confirm which furniture, fixtures and fittings will be left in the property and finally, check for rules about things like smoking, pets, places to keep bikes, bins and recycling.
If you will need a removal service to move furniture and other belongings, it is sensible to get that booked in the diary as soon as you confirm the moving date. You should also arrange home contents insurance, along with tenants insurance to protect you and your belongings from the day you move.
The keys for your new home will usually be available on the day your tenancy starts. If the landlord or agent has supplied an inventory, check all the details as soon as you can. Put in writing what state the property is in on the day you move, listing each room and taking photos too.
Make sure you know how to operate the boiler and other appliances and ask where the stopcock, fuse box, and any meters are located.
Are you ready to rent? Browse our available properties and do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your requirements.