Renting a house or flat can seem like a complex, confusing process, especially if you’ve never rented before. In this guide, you’ll learn about the steps involved with securing your next home, and how to get the most from the experience.
A guide to renting a residential property
Important things to consider before you begin
Before you start searching for a home to rent, consider the following:
- What’s your budget? Right from the start, make sure you establish what you can afford to pay in rent each month. Remember to factor in your outgoings too, to ensure you don’t over-stretch yourself financially.
- Where do you want to live? Before you start browsing the rental market, think about what your personal requirements are. For example; do you need to be near a train station for work? Do you want to be close to the local shops? What about schools? Identify what you’re willing to compromise on, and what’s non-negotiable.
- How long do you want to rent for? Tenancies typically last for either six or twelve months. However, you can ask the landlord to extend the contract, if preferred.
- Can you legally rent in the UK? Landlords are required by law to check that you have the right to rent in this country, and you’ll need to provide documents to prove it.
- Do you have proof that you can afford the rent? Landlords want to see evidence that you can pay the rent each month. If you don’t have this (for example, if you’ve just completed education and have no proof of earnings) then you’ll need a guarantor to guarantee the rent on your behalf. This is usually a parent or guardian.
Starting your search for a property to rent
The best place to start searching is via a letting agent. If you register with them, they’ll keep you informed as soon as something suitable becomes available.
At RIB, you can register with us by calling 0207 637 0821 or filling out our online contact form. By providing us with your contact details and property requirements, we can let you know as soon as new properties become available. We currently have a wide range of properties to rent in Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Covent Garden, Soho and other Prime London locations. You can view all our available rental properties here.
Once you’ve identified a property you’re interested in, you should arrange a viewing. You should also ask the following questions:
- Is the property suitable for children / pets (if applicable)?
- Can I smoke in the property (if applicable)?
- Where will my deposit be held? Landlords of letting agents are legally required to place your deposit in a government-backed scheme.
- What bills am I responsible for? Normally, the tenant will pay the bills, but don’t just presume this is the case – it’s always worth checking.
- What fixtures and fittings are included? Don’t just assume that appliances are included, for example. Make sure you find out for sure.
- Who do I contact if something goes wrong? Usually, this will be the letting agent, though sometimes landlords might be the first point of contact instead.
- Is the property mortgaged? Is the landlord still paying off the mortgage? If so, be aware that if they fail to keep up with the monthly repayments, you might be asked to vacate the property.
- Is it safe? Ask about the safety measures in place, such as carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.
- Is it furnished or unfurnished? If it’s offered as a furnished property, find out exactly what furniture is included.
Useful things to know before you make an offer
Before you put in an offer, find out about the following:
- Rental payments. Usually, landlords like rent to be paid a calendar month in advance. If you’re relying on a guarantor to secure your property, you might be asked to pay the rent owed for the entire duration of the contract upfront – so make sure you can afford to do so.
- Typically, the deposit will equal either five- or six-weeks’ rent, and it must be placed in a government-approved deposit scheme.
- It’s wise to request an inventory before you move in. This document details the condition of the property (and any items that come with it), and can be used to resolve potential disputes further down the line.
- Holding deposit. You’ll be asked to pay a holding deposit once your offer has been accepted. This ensures that the property is reserved, and typically equals one weeks’ rent.
Offer accepted – now what?
Once you’ve made your offer, you should establish the following things:
- When you can move into the property
- How the rent will be paid
You’ll also need to provide the following:
- Your name, contact details and current address
- Details of previous addresses
- Your employment details
- Details for your previous landlord
- Information about next of kin
- The contact details of your guarantor (if applicable)
To complete the Right to Rent checks, you’ll also need to supply:
- Your passport (or a permanent residence card / valid visa / document confirming you’re allowed to remain in this country)
- Proof of enrolment (if you’re a student)
At RIB, we carry out referencing and Right to Rent checks for all our available rental properties. We understand that these checks can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, so we are always on hand to answer any questions you may have to ensure this process is as simple as possible.
When you receive your contract, check it carefully. If you’re concerned about any aspect of it, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, the document can be amended at any point prior to signing.
You’ll also receive some documents from the landlord. These include:
- Paperwork proving your deposit has been placed in a government-backed scheme
- A gas safety certificate
- An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)
- A document providing details about recent electrical inspections
Moving in – your rights and responsibilities
Once the contracts have been signed and all monies have been cleared, you’ll be given a set of keys to your new home. It’s your responsibility to ensure these are kept safe, and they must be returned at the end of the tenancy, along with any extra copies you’ve had made.
It’s your landlord’s responsibility to ensure that:
- The house is safe to live in, and fit for purpose
- Any problems are dealt with promptly
- 24 hours’ notice is given if they want to visit the property
- The building is fully insured
It’s your responsibility to:
- Pay the rent on time
- Keep the property well-maintained
- Alert the landlord / letting agent if any problems arise
- Be considerate to your neighbours
- Insure any furniture / fixtures / fittings that you’ve brought with you, as these aren’t covered under the landlord’s building insurance
Once the term of your contract is complete
Once the contract reaches an end, you might decide you want to stay in the property. If so, you’ll have two options. You can either renegotiate a new contract for a fixed term, or move to a ‘rolling periodic tenancy’. Be aware that your landlord may want to adjust the rental rates.
If you wish to leave the property, you’ll need to give notice (usually two months). All rental payments need to be up-to-date, and you’ll be asked to return the keys. You’ll get your deposit back once the property has been inspected – be aware that some deductions might be made to cover the costs of repairing any damage etc.
Your letting agent will help with this process, and is also on hand to offer support and assistance if you encounter any issues during your tenancy.
Renting Property in London
If you’re looking to rent a property in Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden or other prime London locations, contact the RIB residential lettings team today. We have over 50 years’ experience in the central London rental market and are well equipped to help you find the perfect rental home. You can browse all our available rental properties online or contact a member of our residential lettings team on the details shown below.