Guide To Renting UK: How To Rent A House Or Flat In The UK

Guide To Renting UK: How To Rent A House Or Flat In The UK

When you move to the UK, finding a place to live is often at the top of your priority list. But if you’re not familiar with how to rent a house or flat in the UK, it can be tricky to know where to start.

In this guide to renting in the UK, we’ll walk you through all the steps for finding a home to rent, including arranging a viewing, signing your tenancy agreement, and moving in.

Types of renting in the UK

First, it’s important to know the different types of housing rental in the UK. The most common types are:

  • Private landlord — The owner of the home lets the property out to you directly, without going through a third party.
  • Letting agency — A letting agency manages a property on behalf of a private landlord. They’ll take care of all your needs throughout your tenancy.
  • Council or social housing — You can apply to rent a house or flat via your local council or a housing association. This is a more affordable option, and may help you rent a house if you have low credit. But waiting lists can be long, and you need to meet certain criteria to apply.

You can also become a lodger, which means you live in a property with your landlord.

Many private landlords and letting agents may ask to perform a credit check on you to check you can afford to pay the rent. So it’s important to build up a UK credit score as soon as you can. Find out more about why you need a credit score.

Here, we’ll focus on renting a house or flat privately through a letting agent or landlord. Learn about applying for council housing here.

Finding a house or flat to rent

To rent through a private landlord or letting agency, browse their listings online. Sites like Rightmove and Zoopla will help you find houses and flats to rent in your chosen area. If you’re looking for a single room in a shared property, try SpareRoom.

Desirable properties often get snapped up quickly. Setting up a property alert notifies you when properties that meet your criteria become available, so you can arrange a viewing quickly.

What to look for in your prospective home

When finding a house or flat to rent, you need to know what you’re looking for. Here are some of the most common considerations when looking for a property to rent:

  • Cost — Figure out how much you can afford to pay in rent every month. Some landlords include certain bills in the monthly rental, so work out your finances beforehand.
  • Location — Not sure where you want to live? If you’re new to the UK, check out our guide to the best UK cities to live in.
  • Parking — If you have a car, check whether your chosen property comes with a parking space.
  • Furnishing — If you’re bringing your own furniture, look for an unfurnished property. Alternatively, some landlords provide basic furnishings, including appliances, beds, and sofas.
  • Garden — While many UK houses have a yard or garden, most flats don’t. So decide if it’s important to have a private outdoor space.
  • Pet-friendly — Bringing a pet with you? Some landlords don’t allow pets, so you’ll need to find a pet-friendly property.
  • Accessibility requirements — If you have a disability or mobility issue, find out how accessible the property is.
  • Tenancy length — Decide if you need a fixed-term or ongoing rental contract, and find out how much notice you need to give if you decide to move out.

Do I need to pay a deposit?

Many private landlords and letting agents require you to pay a deposit when you sign the tenancy agreement. Your deposit should be equivalent to five weeks’ rent or less.

When you move out, your landlord will return your deposit to you, minus any repair or maintenance costs you’ve incurred.

Your landlord should put your deposit in a deposit protection scheme. These schemes are designed to make sure you get back all the money you’re owed at the end of your tenancy.

Landlords are only allowed to charge certain fees in addition to your deposit. Find out more about permitted payments.

How to arrange a viewing

When you’ve found a property you like, contact the landlord or letting agent to arrange a viewing. If you want to see the place quickly, it’s best to call the agent. The phone number will be available on the website.

It’s a good idea to take a list of questions with you to the viewing. That way you can get all the answers you need, and make a quick decision about whether to rent the property.

Questions to ask your potential landlord or letting agent

  • Are any bills included in the monthly rent?
  • How much do the current tenants pay in bills?
  • What upfront deposit is needed, and which deposit protection scheme will they use?
  • Are there any other fees or payments required?
  • How long is the contract, and how much notice do you need to give when moving out?
  • How much notice does the landlord need to give you if they want you to move out?
  • Who should you contact in case of an emergency?
  • What insurance do you need to protect your belongings?
  • Is there a car parking space?
  • Are there schools, gyms, or other facilities nearby?
  • What public transport links are within walking distance?

Signing a tenancy agreement

When you’ve found a house or flat to rent, your landlord should give you a tenancy agreement. This is a written document that outlines everything you can expect as a tenant, and your responsibilities.

Read through the tenancy agreement carefully. Ask your landlord or letting agent to clarify anything you’re unsure about.

If you’re not happy with the agreement and don’t want to sign it, you can decide not to continue with the rental, and your landlord must give you your deposit back.

What are your landlord’s responsibilities?

  • Make sure the property is safe to live in
  • Repair any structural damage to the property
  • Make sure plumbing and pipework are in working order
  • Take care of electrical problems
  • Ensure your boiler and radiators are working properly
  • Stick to the responsibilities outlined in the tenancy agreement

What are your responsibilities as a tenant?

  • Pay your rent on time
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Keep the property clean and well-maintained
  • Notify the landlord or letting agent of any structural, electrical, or plumbing problems
  • Stick to the responsibilities outlined in the tenancy agreement

When can you move into your house or flat?

Your landlord will tell you when you can move into the property. They’ll also give you a date you must pay your rent each month. It’s a good idea to set up a standing order to make sure your rent is paid on time each month.

What to do when you move in

When your tenancy agreement is signed and you have a tenancy start date, there’s just one thing left to do: move in!

Here are three essential things you need to do when you move into a rental house or flat:

  • Take meter readings — Check your water, gas, and electricity meters and send a reading to your utility companies, so they know how much to charge you.
  • Take inventory — Make a note of all the appliances in the property and whether they’re working or not. Agree this with the landlord. This can help if there are any disputes at the end of your tenancy.
  • Take photos of damage or scuffs — Taking photos of any damage when you first move in can also help resolve any disputes further down the line.

Moving out of a rented house or flat

If you decide to move out of a rented property, you’ll need to give notice. The amount of notice you need to give will be written in your tenancy agreement.

You should also:

  • Leave the property in good condition — While landlords expect some wear and tear, you should do your best to leave the property as you found it. This will also help you get all or most of your deposit back.
  • Return the keys — Agree how you’ll give the keys back with your landlord or letting agent.
  • Take meter readings — Take another meter reading when you move out, so you can give your utility companies the final reading for your tenancy.
  • Forward your post — Find out how to redirect your mail to your new address.

Learn more about moving to the UK

Find out more about living and working in the UK in these resources:

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