How to rent a property

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How to rent a property

Depending on the type of property you are looking to rent, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself but you start hunting for your new rental property.  So, how to rent a property?

This all depends on what kind of property you need:

  1. Decide whether you want a flat/apartment or house.
  2. What can you realistically afford, a small flat or larger house?  Jot your outgoings here, work out how much you can afford.
  3. What are the council tax payments?  Can you afford it?
  4. Furnished or unfurnished?  If you are thinking of a flat or house share, will your co-tenant(s) look after the furniture?  Will you need to buy a bed, sofa, fridge freezer, washing machine?
  5. Do you have a pet?  Some landlords properties tend not to be pet friendly so make sure you tell your estate agent whether if you have a pet.
  6. How close do you need to be to transport links/shops?
  7. Do you need a parking space?
  8. Do you need a garden for the children to play in, hang the clothes out in the summer to dry or somewhere to let the dog out?  If the property has a garden, you will need to keep it in good condition.
  9. Do you like a bath or a shower?  Some rental properties do not have both.

How to find a property/room to rent?

You can use an estate agent, Rightmove or Prime Location. If you want to rent a room in a shared house, you can look at SpareRoom and Ideal Flat Mate.

What questions should you ask the estate agent?

  • Who will be managing the property you want to rent (the landlord or an agent).
  • Make sure you let the agent know whether you are looking for a yearly tenancy or a six-month tenancy.  You can request a yearly tenancy with a six-month break clause which gives you and the landlord the right to end a yearly contract halfway through by giving either party notice to terminate the contract.
  • How much is the deposit?
  • If you decide to stay on after the tenancy, will the monthly rent cost stay the same?
  • How many people have viewed the property?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Is the landlord open to negotiating the rental price?
  • If there is no fridge freezer/washing machine/dishwasher/tumble dryer, would the landlord install one or mind whether you install one?
  • Do all the appliances inside the property work?
  • If the property has a lawn/hedging, is there a lawnmower and hedge cutter (will you need to buy one yourself to keep it tidy)?
  • If you need broadband/satellite tv etc, what is already available in the property, does the landlord mind you getting a different service installed?
  • Does the property have a landline?  Do you need to pay for it?
  • What type of heating is provided in the property (gas central heating or electric storage heaters)?
  • Does the property have an EPC and can you see a copy of it?
  • How old is the boiler, is it regularly serviced?
  • How much is the average yearly bills for gas and electricity in the property and who is their providers?
  • How much is the monthly council tax on the property?

What to look for when you view a property?

If you wouldn’t live with it, your landlord shouldn’t expect you to.

  • Is the property well maintained?  Run all the taps and flush the toilet – are they fully working?  Is there any exposed wiring, leaky taps, damp etc.  Ask the landlord to get a contractor in to put anything right before you commit to the agreement.
  • What furniture will be provided (you may want a property unfurnished or fully furnished).
  • What is the heating like, does it work?  Does the property have a combi boiler/storage heating or log burners?  What is your preference?  How much is the average monthly bills for heating?
  • Do you know much about the area – will you feel safe?  Talk to neighbours if possible to get a feel of the area.  What are the neighbours like?
  • How adequate are the locks?  Check windows and doors for locks and whether they open freely (so you have access to an escape route at all times).
  • Is there a parking space (if you are potentially renting a flat/apartment).
  • How far are transport links/shops?

What are the landlord’s responsibilities:

  • To ensure safety responsibilities are in order.
  • The property should have an Energy Performance Certificate which will tell you how much electricity and gas the property uses.  A property with a rating of F or G is the biggest drain financially on your monthly bills.
  • The property should have a periodic inspection carried out by a registered electrician every five years (if the property is a house in multiple occupations) and should have a certificate to confirm this.
  • To ensure the property’s electrical installation and all appliances are safe.  (If you find a problem during the tenancy, alert the landlord straight away in writing (everything should stay in proper working order throughout the term of the tenancy)).
  • All appliances should have the CE marking.
  • The appliances should be PAT tested.  Click here to see what the PAT sticker looks like (you should find one on every appliance).
  • gas safe registered engineer should have completed gas works and the property should have a gas safety certificate in place (these should be carried out yearly and/or at the start of each tenancy.
  • All fixtures and fittings supplied are fire safe.
  • To ensure there is a working smoke alarm(s) in the property.
  • To ensure there is a fire alarm(s) in the property.
  • To ensure there is a carbon monoxide detector(s) in the property.
  • To comply with The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
  • To ensure there is a fire extinguisher(s) (if your property is a house with multiple occupations).
  • To ensure if the property is leasehold that he/she has permission to sub-let the property.
  • To have an MHO licence in place (if the property is in multiple occupations).
  • To give you a copy of the building’s insurance policy.

What happens when you find a property to rent?

  • If going through an estate agent, you will need to fill in the estate agents application form.
  • Pay the estate agent a fee (usually non-refundable).
  • You will then be referenced.
  • At this stage, you will need to ensure that your paperwork is in order.  You may be asked to provide the following:
    • Proof of Address (recent utility bill, bank statement)
    • Proof of ID (valid driving licence/passport
    • Your bank details.
    • Last three months bank statements.
    • Last three months payslips.
    • Your last addresses for the last three years.
    • Reference from previous and current employer.
    • Reference from the previous or current landlord.
    • You may need to have a guarantor (a parent will be fine).
    • A right to rent check will be carried out to ensure you have the right to rent in the UK
    • With your permission, a credit check will be carried out to show whether you are in debt or if you have any County Court Judgements (CCJs).

If you do not pass the referencing check, you may need to find a guarantor (a parent will be fine).

Once you have passed the referencing stage, you will agree on a move-in date with the landlord and you will sign a tenancy agreement.  Ask to see their standard tenancy agreement.  You have the right to make amendments of your own within reason.

Protecting your deposit

Your landlord will then protect your deposit and send you the following within 30 days:

  • a copy of the deposit protection certificate/receipt.
  • Prescribed Information.
  • a deposit protection scheme leaflet.
  • the address of the rented property.
  • how much deposit you’ve paid.
  • how the deposit is protected.
  • the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and its dispute resolution service.
  • their (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details.
  • the name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit.
  • why they would keep some or all of the deposit.
  • how to apply to get the deposit back.
  • what to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy.
  • what to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit.

The Deposit Protection schemes in England and Wales are:

Deposit Protection Service


Tenancy Deposit Scheme

There are separate tenancy deposit protection schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What happens when you move into a rented property?

  1. Take photographs of each room including walls/floors/appliances etc in close detail the day you move in.  You may need these if you end up in a dispute at the end of the tenancy with your landlord.
  2. Take photographs of any meters in the property (make sure the meter readings are clear in the photographs).
  3. Contact your local council to register your move for Council Tax payments.
  4. Find out who your gas/electric/water suppliers are, submit readings. Click here for a handy when you move checklist.
  5. Find contents insurance and work out how much you will need (optional).
  6. Ensure you have a copy of the building’s insurance policy from your landlord.

What happens if you want to end the tenancy agreement early?

You are responsible for paying the rent for the term of the tenancy unless you have a break clause in the agreement or you can come to a mutually agreeable end to the tenancy with your landlord.  If no break clause is in place, you may need to pay your way out of the agreement – the cost of that is up to the landlord.

What happens at the end of the tenancy?

  • Your landlord will write to you two months before the end of the tenancy to see if you would like to stay a further term.  If you agree, the landlord will send you a tenancy agreement to sign and continue to secure your deposit.
  • If you decide to leave, the property will be checked carefully by the landlord and he/she will make notes of any damages etc.
  • The landlord will then liaise with you to discuss any issues.
  • If you are in a dispute with your landlord, you both need to agree on what amount is to be returned.
  • Once both parties are in agreement, the landlord will need to return the deposit to you within 10 days.
  • The deposit is protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is settled.

What can be deducted from your deposit at the end of the tenancy?

Deductions can only be taken when there is physical damage to property (not wear and tear) or non-payment of rent.

What is wear and tear?

Light marks on the carpet would be classed as wear and tear, however, nail varnish, iron burns or damage caused through negligence would not.  If the carpet was cheap and flimsy, it cannot expect it to last the distance if you are a large family.  Consideration must be taken on whether the item was of original good quality when making a judgement.

Cleaning/repair at end of the tenancy.

In considering whether cleaning/repair is necessary at the end of the tenancy, check your photographs to decide what condition everything was in when you moved in.

How much can be deducted from a deposit?

Usually, the Landlord and Tenant agree on what should be deducted if any issues have arisen.  If both parties are unable to decide, the TDP Scheme’s dispute resolution service will help both parties.

If there are no disputes, the deposit should be returned.

Check out the guide to deposit disputes and damages from the TDS.

Here is a great website to give you further advice and guidance on this:


The TDP scheme’s dispute resolution service will help if both parties cannot agree on how much deposit is to be returned.

Contact your TDP scheme regarding their dispute resolution service.  The schemes are:

Deposit Protection Service


Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Help and advice

Find further how-to guides:

How to become a landlord

What is council tax

Re-Mortgage a Property

How to rent a property

How to Extend a Lease Agreement

Insurance you need for a Property

How to protect a tenant deposit

Improve your Property to Sell



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