A Tenant’s Guide to Renting Property

Renting a property for the first time is an exciting experience, yet there are plenty of things to consider and organise to ensure things run smoothly. From providing references and arranging a deposit, to choosing whether a furnished or unfurnished property is best for your needs, we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the process and find your next home.

Check Your Finances

Before you start looking at potential properties, you’ll need to work out what level of rent you can afford and what the likely deposit will be.

When considering your monthly budget, remember to also include the cost of energy, water and broadband, as well as council tax and any other additional costs such as a TV licence, contents insurance and phone bills. Since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act in 2019, rental deposits are capped at 5 weeks’ rent if the annual rent is less than £50,000 a year, and 6 weeks’ rent if above. The Act also means that letting agents are no longer allowed to charge fees for completing reference checks or arranging the Tenancy Agreement. Finally, you will most likely be asked to pay the first month’s rent up front, so check that you also have this money available.

Decide on a Property Type and Length of Tenancy

Now that your finances are in order, the next step is to decide what kind of property you would like to rent and how long for. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you want to be in the city centre, the suburbs or the countryside? How long are you prepared to commit to renting this property for?

You will also need to take into account the income criteria that many letting agents have for renting a property, which means that your annual income must be above a certain amount to be able to rent a property at a particular price. As a guide, this is usually 30 times the monthly rent. Once you’ve considered these factors, you are ready to start your property search.

Search for Properties and Arrange Viewings

To find potential properties to rent you can use national websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove, as well as the websites and window displays of local letting agents. You may want to restrict your search to either furnished or unfurnished properties, depending on whether you already have your own furniture, or wish to buy it yourself.

It’s worth registering with local letting agents too, as this will mean you will receive alerts on when new rental properties come to market. Be sure to check when any properties you are interested in are available, some will be immediately but others may be a few weeks away from being ready to move in to.

The property rental market moves quickly, so if you see a property that you’d like to view, you should contact the agent to book a viewing as soon as possible. If you have multiple properties to view, try to book viewings in close succession so that you can make a decision quickly.

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