Property Search

Renting Process

1 Before You Start

Questions you need to ask before you decide to rent your new home.

How long do you want the tenancy for? There is usually a fixed period of 6 or 12 months. If you want more security, you can ask for a longer fixed period of up to seven years. Many landlords are happy to offer longer tenancies.

What can you afford? Check who is responsible for bills such as electricity, gas, water and council tax. You or the landlord? Usually the tenant pays for these.

Decide which area? This will also help when matching the appropriate property to your requiements. The larger the area where you are prepared to look, the better the chance of finding the right home for you.

Have your documents ready? Reputable landlords and agents will want to confirm your identity, credit history and possibly your employment or immigration status.

Do you need a rent guarantee? Some landlords might ask someone to guarantee your rent. If you don’t have a guarantor, ask Shelter for help.

Tenant Fees - Find out what fees your Letting gent will charge and when you need to pay them.

Client money protection - If the landlord asks for a deposit, check that it will be protected in a government approved scheme. Some schemes hold the money, and some insure it. Also if they are accredited through a professional body like ARLA, NALS, RICS or UKALA.

2 Found Your New Home

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors if you have solid fuel appliances. Check these are provided. If not, your landlord must install them. They could save your life.

Fixtures and fittings. Check you are happy with them, as it is unlikely that you will be able to get them changed once you have moved in.

Children, smoking and pets. Check if there any rules about them, as well as for other things such as keeping a bike, dealing with refuse and recycling

3 Taking On The Property

Make sure you have a written tenancy agreement and read it carefully to understand your rights and responsibilities. The landlord or agent usually provides one but you can request to use a different version. The government has published a model tenancy agreement that can be used.

Agree an inventory (or check-in report) with your landlord and, as an extra safeguard, make sure that you take photos. This will make things easier if there is a dispute about the deposit at the end of the tenancy. If you are happy with the inventory, sign it and keep a copy.

Remember to take meter readings when you move in. This will help make sure you don’t pay for the previous tenant’s bills.

Contact details. Make sure that you have the correct contact details for the landlord or agent, including a telephone number you can use in case of an emergency.

4 What A Landlord Needs To Provide

A copy of the How to rent: The checklist for renting in England either via a link or as a printed copy.

A gas safety certificate. The landlord must provide one each year, if there is a gas installation.

Deposit paperwork. If you have provided a deposit, the landlord must protect it in a government approved scheme. Make sure you get the official information from the scheme, and that you understand how to get your money back at the end of the tenancy. Keep this information safe as you will need it later.

The Energy Performance Certificate. This will affect your energy bills and the landlord must provide one (except for Houses in Multiple Occupation).

If your landlord doesn’t provide these, they can’t evict you until they do.

A record of any electrical inspections. All appliances must be safe and checks every 5 years are recommended.

5 What You As A Tenant Must Do

  • Pay the rent on time
  • Look after the property
  • Be considerate to the neighbours
  • Not take in a lodger
  • Report any need for repairs

6 What The Landlord/Agent Must Do

  • Maintain the structure
  • Fit smoke alarms on every floor and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms
  • Deal with any problems with the water, electricity and gas supply.
  • Maintain any appliances and furniture they have supplied.
  • Carry out most repairs. If something is not working, report it to the landlord (or their agent) as soon as you can.
  • Arrange an annual gas safety check
  • Give at least 24 hours notice of visits for things like repairs
  • Insure the building to cover the costs of any damage from flood or fire.

Please look at the 'How to rent Guide' -
This guide is for people who are about to rent a house or flat.

Most of it will equally apply if you are in a shared property but in certain cases your rights and responsibilities will vary.
The guide does not cover lodgers or people with licences – nor tenants where the property is not their main or only home.