Renting in the UK: what does it involve?

For those who are new to the UK or living independently for the first time, there are many advantages to renting rather than buying.

Property choice is a big one. While the housing market can fluctuate, the number and variety of rental accommodation tends to stay steady. You usually have greater flexibility in terms of location and living style too, especially in city centres.

You can also enjoy reduced responsibilities when it comes to property management. Your landlord will help to handle repairs and bills and taxes are often included in the cost of your rent.

Most importantly, renting gives you time to prepare to join the property ladder. You can decide where you want to settle, take steps to improve your credit score and save up a deposit. A high credit score and a bigger deposit will help you secure a more affordable mortgage when you buy a house.

Find out how to get started with renting in the UK and what is usually involved from enquiry to keys.

  1. Viewings

When you’re browsing properties for rent, it’s advisable to do viewings in person. Images used in online profiles can be out-of-date and hide issues such as leaks and dampness in the walls.

Follow a checklist for viewing a home to rent and make sure the property ticks all boxes in terms of security, safety and maintenance. Remember to look at the exterior of the building too to identify potential problems like crumbling brickwork, blocked gutters and loose roof tiles.

  1. References

When you submit a request to rent a property, most landlords will ask for references. This is to check that you can afford the monthly rent and would be a responsible tenant.

Reference requests differ but often include communication with your bank including a credit check and letters of recommendation from your current employer and previous landlord. In the case of first-time UK renters, a family member can usually act as your guarantor.

It is now a legal requirement for landlords to check the right to rent of all tenants aged 18 and over. If you’re not a British citizen you’ll need to show your immigration documents, otherwise providing your passport will suffice.

  1. Agreement

To secure your offer once it’s been accepted, you’ll need to pay a deposit to your landlord. This is held in a government-approved deposit scheme and acts as security for the property owner. If the tenant meets the terms of the contract, it is returned in full when they move out.

Make sure you enquire about the deposit protection scheme and receive proof of postage from your landlord within three weeks of moving in.

You’ll also be asked to sign a tenancy agreement – and if you’re not, that’s a sign that your landlord or letting agency is not reputable. The most common agreement is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy which includes the rental period, notice of termination of the contract and the terms of use while living in the property.