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How to rent a house in the UK

Moving to the UK? Or perhaps you’re already here and interested in moving to new accommodation. Well, you’ve come to the right place. This handy guide explains how to rent a house in the UK.

The background and basics

Due to the rising costs of houses in the UK, renting property is becoming the increasingly popular (and often, only) option for many people. House prices are outstripping wages and as a result, getting on the property ladder is increasingly difficult. Fortunately, there are many rental properties on the market so you don’t have to be an actual homeowner to find and live in suitable accommodation.

Rental properties in the UK usually have a 6-month minimum tenancy requirement. You will usually be asked to pay a security deposit and one month’s rent in advance of moving in. The website states that the tenancy deposit amount should not exceed 5 weeks’ worth of rent where annual rent is under £50,000. Where annual rent is more than £50,000, the deposit should not exceed 6 weeks’ rent.

The checks and requirements

Once you’ve found your accommodation and the landlord has agreed to take you on as a tenant, you will need to undergo some initial checks. This is so that the landlord can establish whether you will be able to keep up with the monthly rent payments. As stated above, you’ll also likely have to pay a security deposit and one month’s rent in advance.

According to UK law, you must be a legal resident and aged 18 or over to rent a property. You will need to prove your identity, immigration history, current address, credit history and potentially employment status. Proof of identity can come in the form of a photo ID, Electoral Register entry, recent utilities or tax bill or UK visa and associated documents. Employment status can be proved by recent payslips (dating from the last 3-6 months), current employment contract, recent tax return or a letter from your employer detailing your job title, contract length and salary.

It is also likely that your landlord will request references to confirm your identity and character. If you have previously rented in the UK, a reference from your previous landlord will be useful in proving that you are a trustworthy and reliable tenant. You could also request a reference from your current or previous employer, or from a friend or colleague. 

The search 

The best and most efficient way to find and rent a house in the UK is online. You can use property search websites such as Right Move to find accommodation that’s within budget and in the exact area that you want. Alternatively, you can visit a local estate agent or ask around to see if friends or colleagues know of any places available to rent.

When it comes to the renting process, you can rent through a letting agent or direct from the landlord. Letting agents must be a member of a redress scheme and an approved client money protection scheme. This information should be clearly visible to you on the agent’s website or premises. Reputable agents are also often accredited through a professional body such as GPP or Safeagent. If you are renting from a landlord, you should look to make sure they belong to an accreditation scheme. Your local authority can advise you about accreditation schemes operating in your area. 

Renting from an estate agent is beneficial because they usually tend to manage the property you’re moving into. If you have any concerns or issues with the accommodation, you can contact the estate agent to arrange the repairs for you. And if any issues arise with their service, you can complain to an independent complaints body. Estate agents may also give you advice about the local area.

Renting from a landlord has its own benefits, however. It is likely that you will not have to undergo as many credit checks or provide as many references. You may also have less to pay before moving in.

The checklist

Found somewhere you like? Great! Make sure you arrange to visit the property and if possible, bring somebody with you. It’s safer and they can help you decide whether it’s right. Don’t rent property from an existing tenant and NEVER hand your money over before seeing the property first.

To make sure the property will suit you and your budget, you should ask your landlord or estate agent the following:

  • How much is the rent and how should it be paid?
  • Does the rent include any bills?
  • How long is the tenancy agreement? Will there be an option to renew at the end?
  • Are any payments required prior to moving in? (Advance rent or estate agent fees, for example)
  • How will the tenancy deposit be protected?

You should also make sure that the property is safe to live in and fit for human habitation. Check that at least one smoke alarm is fitted and what the arrangements are for rubbish collection and recycling. If you have any pets, you should check to make sure that they are permitted on the property. The site has a handy guide of things to check when looking for your new home.

The rules

Once you’ve found somewhere to rent and the landlord has approved you as a tenant, it’s time to move in! But to rent a house or apartment is to play by the rules. Here are some of the basics:

  • Pay the rent and any bills you’re responsible for on time
  • Look after the property
  • Be considerate to the neighbours
  • Play by the rules (‘No pets’ really means no pets)
  • Don’t take in a lodger or sublet without permission from your landlord

And there we have it! We hope your mission to rent a house in the UK is a successful one. Happy new home!


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