The ultimate guide on how to rent a property

Looking to rent a property for the first time? Here is all the information you could possibly need to make sure you get the process right.

No rental history or scared on where to start? No problem. Whether you’re stepping out on your own or moving in with friends, take a look at what you need to know when renting for the first time.

Renting either a flat or a home is a natural stepping stone for people, whether you’ve just relocated areas, graduated from university, secured your first real job or are leaving your parents’ place. The freedom of moving out on your own is exciting, albeit daunting to start at first. With a little help from this guide, you’ll feel more confident and less stressed about this major milestone. 

Budget accordingly

Before searching for houses to rent, you need to know your budget. Start with a number in mind and then narrow down your search of a suitable area that caters to you, whether that’s great transport links, low crime rate, good schools or local amenities.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to budget for utility bills, council tax, broadband, TV licence, food and more. You’ll need to analyse all of your outgoings when making the move to rent. 

Most rental properties require a deposit or a holding fee on the property. If you’re moving with a pet, you may be subject to a higher deposit.

Prepare for checks

Landlords will want to make sure that you are suitable tenant and you are able to afford the rent. The following may be requested by the Letting Agent: 

  • A credit check. This will allow them to see if you have a good history of paying bills on time. 
  • A reference from your employer. Details of your employment, including your employer name, job title, payroll number, salary and previous employer will show the landlord you have then means to pay rent. 
  • If you are a first time renter, you may be asked to give details of where you’ve lived for the last three years. 

Secure a guarantor

If you haven’t rented before, you might be asked to provide a guarantor. This is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you don’t pay it, for example a parent or close relative. If you don’t have anyone suitable, visit Rent Guarantor to apply for assistance. Tenants who are renting for the first time, or have poor credit will usually require a guarantor.

Start your search

Finding your first rental doesn’t have to be difficult. By using filters to narrow down your location, budget and property features, you can find your next home. On Source the Area, you can also have a look at our guides to help make your decision easier.

Ask questions at the viewing

Once you’ve booked your viewing, pay attention to the condition of the property and determine if the space and area is suitable for your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s good to cover everything before you sign the dotted line. Are you allowed to hand things on the wall? Does it come with dedicated parking space? These are just some questions. But it’s important to ask questions before renting.

Bills and insurance

If you are sharing a rental space with other people, make sure you establish who will be responsible for paying each bill 

Make sure to check that there is contents insurance. While the landlord is required to insure the building and their own contents, you will need coverage to protect your belongings.

Council tax

Unless its included in your rent, you’re in full-time education or you’re otherwise exempt, you’ll need to pay council tax. Register by contacting your local council or for more information, please visit the government website.

TV licence

If you plan to watch TV live or through ITV Player, you’ll need to purchase a TV licence. To register for a licence please, visit the TV licensing website.

Check the inventory

The inventory for rental property is a list of everything that is provided with the space, such as furniture, blinds, appliances and more. It records the condition of the property, for example if there wear and tear to the doors or stains on the floor. If you disagree with anything on the inventory, please inform your landlord or agent straightaway as it can have an impact on how much you’ll receive back at the end of the tenancy. A good bit of advice is to take plenty of pictures as soon as you get the keys so that you can’t be held accountable for prior damage.  

Furnish your rental space on a budget  

Moving out on your own as a first time renter requires an investment in new furniture and essential household items – unless the place comes fully furnished. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to make your first rental property feel more like home. With Source the Area’s home owner stories, you can get some insight and inspiration on how people have created affordable ways of designing their homes. 

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Eight questions all first-time buyers should ask at a viewing