Guide to Renting a Property

Whether you’re looking to rent your first home, downsizing or moving to a new area, it helps to be aware of everything involved in the process. Our guide to renting a property tells you everything you need to know so you can avoid any unnecessary hassle along the way.

Consider your finances and credit score

The amount of money you can spend on rent every month will determine the size and type of property you can live in. Make this your start point before you start your property search, putting together a budget based on your salary and current outgoings.

You should also take your credit score into account, as you will undergo a credit check before you can sign a tenancy agreement. There is no set credit score that will enable you to rent, but it’s helpful to be aware of your current situation before proceeding. TransUnion, Experian and Equifax all provide free credit reports upon request.

Start your property search

The exciting part of renting is looking at the properties available on the market. The first thing to do is to settle on an area you’d like to live in and check that you can afford to live there.

Important practical factors to consider include transport links for work and school (if you have children) and local amenities such as shopping, doctors, dentists other services you will use regularly. If you do have children, it’s also worthwhile checking the OFSTED rating of nearby schools to get an idea of the overall quality of education on offer.

Property types to consider

Pick a property that supports both your budget and your needs, so you are getting the most for your monthly rent.

For example, if you do not have children, living in a flat or apartment may be a better option, as you can still have separate rooms without having to pay extra for a large house that is more expensive and harder to maintain.

Similarly, families will most likely want to live in a multi-bedroom property that gives them space, including a garden. If you are a driver, having a driveway, garage or secured parking spot may be important. Older Victorian and Edwardian properties tend to have more storage space, while new build properties generally have less wear and tear.

Things to look out for when viewing a property

Once you have some property viewings lined up, put together a checklist that you can run through when you visit each one. This can include things such as checking the:

  • What, if any, furniture is included
  • Storage capacity in rooms and hallways
  • Size of each room to see if it suits your lifestyle
  • Fixtures and fittings are in good condition and working
  • Wi-Fi and internet connections
  • Security locks on the front/back doors and windows
  • Walls and windows for any damp or mould


Making an offer

When you’ve found a property you’d like to live in, you should put in an offer to the landlord as quickly as possible. There could be a lot of competition from other tenants, so you need to be fast to avoid missing out. If your offer is accepted, you will need to complete some paperwork and put down an initial holding fee (1 week’s worth of rent).

Documentations and references

There are some legal checks that will have to be carried out, in particular, verifying that you have the Right to Rent. This means proving you are over 18 years old and a legal UK resident. To do this most people usually supply their passport, which the agent or landlord then copy and keep on record during the tenancy.

A credit check is carried out to get a better idea of your financial status, along with an employer check to verify your salary and employment status.

Tenancy Agreement

Once the documentation and reference checks are successfully completed, you will then be asked to sign the tenancy agreement. Take your time to review the details and ensure you happy with everything that is in the contract before signing.

The tenancy agreement will outline both the landlord and tenant responsibilities. It also includes the tenancy start date, rental payment requirements and landlord contact details. You should also be given a copy of “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” which is a legal requirement.

Put down the first payment for rent and deposit

You will need to put down the first month’s rent in advance, along with the full deposit which will be held until the tenancy ends.

Landlords can ask for up to 5 weeks’ worth of rent for properties with an annual rent total under £50,000. For properties with an annual rent total over this amount, the landlord can request up to 6 weeks’ worth of rent.

The holding fee is deducted from this total and the deposit must be placed into a government-backed deposit scheme. Full details of the scheme must be provided to you before the tenancy begins.

Arrange a Move-in Date

You will need to arrange a move in date with your landlord / letting agent. This will usually be the date the tenancy agreement begins. Once you have a date, it will be best for you to arrange how you will be transporting your furniture and belongings to your new home.

In most cases an inventory will be conducted by the landlord / letting agent confirming either in writing or video logs of the condition of the property. This is to protect the landlord and tenant in any damage claims that may occur at the end of the tenancy.

Once you have been handed the keys, it is time to start the process of moving in. As the tenancy has started, you will now be reliable for all the bills so you should check all the current utility providers of the property.

What are my responsibilities as a tenant?

As a tenant your responsibilities will be to:

  • Pay rent on time to the right amount as stated in the tenancy agreement
  • Take care of the property and keep it in good, liveable condition
  • Adhere to the full terms of the tenancy agreement
  • Report any damage to the landlord and allow access for repairs


Rent a property with Squires Estates

If you are searching for a property to rent in North and North West London, the Squires Estates team can help you find the perfect match. We provide a transparent and honest service that supports your property search journey, ensuring you find a home you will be able to rent for as long as you need. Get in touch with us today to find out more to see what we can do for you.