The current housing market has made renting property an increasingly important part of the way we live now. House prices have outstripped wages significantly, making it difficult to get on the property ladder, so renting can often be the best option.

Property for rent doesn’t simply appeal to tenants who may be waiting or hoping to get onto the property ladder, but it also offers flexibility for those downsizing or moving into a new area. It isn’t uncommon for estate agents to arrange viewings for potential tenants that include everyone from young singles moving into their own place for the first time to mature couples who are downsizing.

Although renting gives you greater flexibility than owning a property, it still takes time and money to find the right place and to move in, so it is worth putting some careful thought into finding somewhere that will suit you.

Before You Start Your Rental Search

Make sure you are financially prepared for the rent and the permitted payments. Once the landlord decides you will be a good tenant, you will need to pay fees to set up the tenancy to cover the cost of references, credit checks and arranging your rental. Before you move in you will also pay a security deposit and probably one month’s rent in advance. These initial checks establish that you can afford the rent and therefore will make a good tenant.

Other things to consider

How long do you want the tenancy for? A tenancy is usually a minimum of 6 months. If you are not sure, you can ask for a tenancy to be extended but remember there are costs involved in extending your fixed term tenancy agreement.

Start gathering together documents that your agent will need to confirm your identity, immigration status, credit history and possibly employment status.

Tenant Application Process

  • Read your written tenancy agreement carefully to understand your rights and responsibilities.
    • If you have any concerns about the agreement, seek advice before you sign.
  • Agree an inventory (or check-in report) with your landlord and, as an extra safeguard, make sure that you take photos. This will make things easier if there is a dispute about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
    • If you are happy with the inventory, sign it and keep a copy.
  • Remember to take meter readings when you move in.
    • This will help make sure you don’t pay for the previous tenant’s bills.
  • Make sure that you have the correct contact details for the landlord or agent and you keep them handy. These should be given to you.

Documents Your Landlord or Agent Must Provide:

There are a number of documents that your Landlord or Agent must provide you with at the start of your tenancy, by law. Use the below list as a checklist, and make sure you do receive a copy of each.

  • A copy of the guide 'How to rent'.
    • This guide is only applicable to tenants in England.
  • A gas safety certificate.
    • The landlord must provide one each year, if there is a gas installation.
  • Deposit paperwork.
    • If you have provided a deposit, the landlord must protect it in a government approved scheme. Make sure you get the official information from the scheme, and that you understand how to get your money back at the end of the tenancy. Keep this information safe as you will need it later.
  • The Energy Performance Certificate.
    • This will affect your energy bills and the landlord must provide one (except for Houses in Multiple Occupation). If your landlord doesn’t provide these, they can’t evict you until they do.
  • A record of any electrical inspections.
    • All appliances must be safe and checks every 5 years are recommended.