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How to Prepare for the Cost of Renting a House

Moving to a new place is an exciting venture, but you can end up forking out more money than you first expected. Prepare for the cost of renting a house or flat with our help.

Faye deGavre

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Apr 01, 2021

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6 min read

How to Prepare for the Cost of Renting a House

When you start thinking about moving into a new rental property, it’s easy to get swept away by exciting possibilities. You begin searching for homes to rent online, dreaming of city views from cool lofts, being near a beautiful park, or even planning your décor. It’s not until you’re faced with the cost of moving that anxiety can set in.

Looking for your perfect place to rent may be easy, but affording the move isn’t always a piece of cake. What fees do you pay when renting a house? What are the one-off and ongoing expenses of renting in the UK? We answer all this and more. To get prepared for the cost of renting a house or flat, read on.

Price up the property to rent

Rent

How much rent can I afford? This will be your first consideration as it will be your biggest housing cost. If you’ve rented before, you will know roughly what you can afford based on your earnings. First-time renters will need to consider their outgoings, income and what they can comfortably afford. But how much of your salary should you spend on rent? A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 30% of your monthly gross income on housing-related expenses. 

Some rental costs are advertised as ‘by the week’ rather than ‘per calendar month’. For a property advertised as £300 per week, you need to multiply this by 52, then divide the annual figure by 12 to get the monthly rental cost – in this case, £1,300.

Resist looking at properties beyond your means – this is a recipe for heartbreak (trust us). It’s also worth noting that you could face extra charges if you do not pay rent on time. For your credit score and pocket’s sake, be sure you set a reminder and/or automatic payments to stay on schedule.

If you’re planning on moving in with a pet (with approval first, of course), then you may pay more per month. This figure is calculated by your agency or landlord and can be used to cover the cost of new paintwork and repaired flooring if your pet damages them.

Tenancy deposit

Most properties require a refundable rental deposit. The maximum tenancy deposit you can be charged is equal to 5 weeks' rent (or 6 weeks if the annual rent is more than £50,000). This is paid upfront, so be sure you have enough cash on hand.

Your landlord or Letting Agent will usually put this in a 'tenancy deposit scheme', though some may suggest deposit replacement insurance as an alternative to paying a tenancy deposit.

Holding deposit

You may be asked to pay a holding deposit to reserve a rental space you want while you go through the referencing process. This is capped at 1 week's rent.

Once you’ve paid the holding deposit, you have 15 days to sign a tenancy agreement. The Letting Agent or landlord cannot rent the property to anyone else in that time without offering it to you first. Usually, you won’t be able to get your money back if you change your mind. If you do proceed, you’ll get the holding deposit back within 7 days of signing the agreement or you can choose to put it towards your first month of rent.

Moving costs

Moving is a one-time expense, but an important one to budget for. If you can tempt friends and family into helping you, then your moving costs may equate to the price of a couple of pizzas and a round or two of beers. If you’re flying solo, you may need to hire a van or a team of movers who can get the job done in a day. If this is the case, we recommend asking around for a couple of quotes to compare costs as well as the services. 

Council tax

Renters often forget about council tax, but it can eat into your pocket if you haven’t budgeted for it. It’s a compulsory tax paid by the borough or neighbourhood residents to cover bin collections, local fire and police services and maintenance in the area. Usually, the fee is passed from property owners to the renters, meaning you will need to factor the monthly or quarterly payment into your figures.

The council tax invoice will be posted to your address, and it needs to be paid by those who have signed the lease. Be prepared by checking the council tax band.

Energy (gas/electricity) and water

It should go without saying that these are necessary monthly bills that you’ll be responsible for paying. Find out the average cost for gas and electricity, as well as how the property is heated. Electric heating often tends to be pricier, though some homes have central heating. Many companies offer smart meters so that they don’t have to send staff out manually to read the meter – this can sometimes work out cheaper for those who think they’re over-paying each month and gives you the added bonus of seeing exactly how much you’re spending on energy in real time.

On the day you move in, you’ll need to take meter readings and contact the suppliers. You’ll have a contract with the gas and electricity suppliers from the date your tenancy starts, though you can shop around for a better deal if you’re unhappy with the tariff.

If you’re going to rent a flat or a room in a house, you may pay a lump sum each month to cover utilities. With Boomin Priorities, you can explore different energy suppliers and tariffs that make switching and saving easy. Let us help you sort all the essentials you need to move.

Phone and broadband

Even if you don’t intend to have a fixed-line house phone, you still have to get a phone line installed and pay for it monthly. Otherwise, you won’t have internet access. Look around for good broadband deals – and aim to do this early on in the move as it can take weeks for an engineer to come out and hook you up to the internet. Compare phone and broadband services under one roof. Boomin Priorities helps you select the right deal, so you’re all set up for move-in day. 

TV licence

If you watch live TV (even if only on your laptop or tablet), you need a TV licence. You need one for every year you watch TV, and the cost (£157.50 in 2020) can be paid in one go or spread over the year. The revenue for this goes towards the funding of free-to-air channels such as the BBC. TV licensing regulations are very strict, and if you get caught with a TV at an unlicensed address, you can expect a hefty fine. 

Secure your annual TV licence.

Contents insurance

Your landlord covers the cost of insuring the physical building, but that’s where the coverage starts and ends. The landlord isn’t responsible for protecting your belongings – that’s down to you. The price of contents or renter's insurance will largely depend on your items. Everything from your furniture, electronics, jewellery, clothing and more need to be taken into account. 

If you’re on the fence about getting insurance, ask yourself this – if your rental property caught fire tomorrow and you lost everything, how much would it cost to rebuild your life? We know it’s heavy, but insurance offers great peace of mind that you have a financial safety net in place if the worst happens.

Furniture and décor 

Getting the keys to your rental space isn’t just the best bit – decorating and furnishing it is arguably more so. While you may not be able to paint the walls navy or choose your own carpet, you are able to deck the property out with your own furniture (if it comes unfurnished).

Armchairs, bookcases, sofas and sideboards all make a huge difference to a room and can instantly give the space personality. Rugs and indoor plants give you a chance to create some calm, too. If you can’t drill holes into the wall, hang up pictures and prints with sticky-back hooks or place them on chests or desks.

Looking for a bit of décor inspo? Boomin's Property Playground is your chance to seek inspiration, collect ideas and connect with professionals to make your new rental property feel like home.

Find a property to suit your budget

Now you’re ready for the cost of renting a house. Whether you’re looking to rent by yourself, with your other half or five friends, you get to discover more with Boomin. Our advanced property site offers a wide range of suitable spaces to rent, and you can be the first to know about hot spaces coming to the market. 

From a simple one-bedroom flat to a five-bed pad with all the included amenities, Boomin gives you the ability to book viewings online 24/7 with trusted and experienced Letting Agents. Start your rental search today.

Faye deGavre

Content Writer