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A Quick Guide to Renting a Flat

One of the most important parts of moving to a new place is finding a place to live, with implications on both tangible and emotional levels.  As is the case with many important tasks and decisions, finding a home can be stressful.  One of the best tools to lessen or alleviate the stress of looking for a home is preparation.

First Steps : Having the proper documents assembled prior to looking for your home will save a great deal of time and frustration.  In general, you will need two types of documents and information.

Personal Information:  Agents and landlords will want to confirm you identity and immigration status.  They will also obtain a credit history and many will verify your employment status.

Confirming your right to rent: Anyone over the age of 18 that is renting a place as their main home is required to prove their right to rent.   Acceptable documents include a passport showing the person is a British or UK citizen, an identity card or passport showing the holder is a EEA or Swiss national, a birth certificate or an immigration status document showing that the holder has “no time limit” on their stay in the UK.  The list of valid documents is rather long and can be found on the government website here. Landlords are required to make copies of the documents and return the originals.

Budgeting:Your home should be a place to feel secure and relaxed; selecting one that is within your budget is a good step in helping achieve those goals.  A general rule of thumb is to budget about 35% of your monthly salary for rent. Check more about that here.

Upfront costs: In order to rent a home you will have to pay a number of upfront charges.  These include the first month’s rent and a deposit, which is generally equal to about 6 weeks rent. Additionally expect to pay administrative fees and to cover the cost of running credit and reference checks.  If you are using an agent the administrative fees and deposit will generally be higher monthly billsthan if dealing with the landlord directly.

Monthly Bills: Make sure your rental contract spells out exactly what is covered in the monthly rent. In most cases the tenant is responsible for paying all household bills including gas and electricity, water, Council tax, TV license, digital or satellite TV subscriptions, broadband, and landline bills.  Since the landlord’s insurance does not cover your property it is advisable to obtain contents cover. 

Helpful Hints: Asking the right questions and carrying out some simple tasks before moving can make your experience much more pleasant as well as give you protection at the end of your rental contract.

Know what is included: Check to determine what electric goods, such as ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, fridge and microwave are included.  If an item is included be sure that it is in good working condition. If not it may be possible to negotiate with the landlord to have the item repaired or replaced.

Protect Yourself: Make sure that you have a written rental agreement that outlines the length of the rental and the costs.  Be sure to read the entire contract and if any item is unclear ask for an explanation.  Include an inventory list and note any items such as property damage that could be the source of a disagreement upon move out. Taking and keeping photos of the property before moving in is good way to protect your deposit and avoid disputes.  Also read all of the meters before moving in to insure that you are not charged for the previous tenant’s usage.

Examine the property carefully: Check to insure the plumbing works properly, doors and windows open and lock easily, and that any electrical items, including lights and outlets, work correctly.

Resources : Finding a place to live may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately there are a lot of resources that help make it far easier.

A quick Google search will bring up in a large number of websites that will help you find a place to rent. is a particularly good site.

The rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord are subject to government regulations.  Landlords are required to give all tenants a booklet with a how to rent checklist. The online version of the booklet contains a number of links to relevant agencies and more detailed information.




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