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Simple Steps to Help You Rent a House or Flat

From tenancy agreements to security deposits, renting a property can be confusing. To help you find a house or flat to call your home, we walk you through the process, step by step.

Faye deGavre

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Mar 08, 2021

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6 min read

Simple Steps to Help You Rent a House or Flat

With the average price of a UK home inching upward of £269,000 (at time of writing, early 2021), a growing number of Brits are priced out of buying. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. One in five UK households lives in private accommodation, with a similar figure in social housing. Renting a property is often a necessary step before you’re able to purchase a home of your own, and it’s a great way to get to know properties and areas without committing. 

When you’re ready to find your next place to rent, it’s best to be prepared. Below, we outline the all-important steps you need to know on how to find a property to rent.

Steps for finding a property to rent

1. Consider your needs

Whether you plan to live alone or you’re a large family with small children, everyone has different needs and will be looking for space to suit their lifestyle. Before you begin looking at rental accommodation, first determine your must-haves – but remain flexible.

Even if the perfect location and size of property exists, it might not be within your budget. While a second bedroom might be useful, you might opt for a garden or a one-bed property instead to save money. If you’re moving with pets, you’ll need to find somewhere suitable for your four-legged friend.

2. Set a budget

Bills are an unfortunate reality of renting a property. As a tenant, you’ll be responsible for paying the household bills (unless they are specifically included). The costs of renting a house or flat involve:

  • Gas and/or electricity
  • Water
  • Council tax
  • TV licence
  • Broadband
  • Contents insurance
  • TV streaming subscriptions

In addition to these costs, you’ll likely have to put down a security 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).

You may also be asked to put down a holding deposit (capped at 1 weeks' rent), which reserves the property, preventing other prospects from viewing it while you go through the referencing process. If you pay this deposit, it means that you’re committed to the property and the landlord is ready to rent the space to you – provided you clear the checking process.

3. List your requirements

Before you start your rental property search, narrow down the type of place you’re looking for. Consider:

  • Location
  • Property type: Flat, house, studio, a room in a house share, purpose-built rental accommodation
  • Length of tenancy period (month-to-month, six months, one year or more, etc.)
  • Furnished or unfurnished
  • Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, living spaces
  • Off-street parking
  • Garden
  • Pets moving with you

One of the great benefits of renting is access to different types of rental properties on the market. Depending on your personal and financial circumstances, you might choose a house or flat with sole tenancy or shared accommodation with others. 

Homes to rent are listed as furnished or unfurnished. Some landlords may be flexible about letting you decide what you’d prefer. While a furnished property may take away the expense of buying new furniture or sourcing second-hand items, the risk of damaging the existing landlord’s pieces could increase your chance of losing your deposit for repairs.

4. Zero in on a neighbourhood

The area you choose to live in will depend heavily on your finances and needs. While you may have your heart set on an area because of friends, family and work, it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind. 

Areas surrounding bustling cities are hotspots for rental properties. If you want to live closer to work, it may mean forking out more per month. To save money, opt for areas further away from the city centre but within easy reach of transport links. 

5. Search for a property to rent

Once you have a solid idea of what you’re looking for and where, it’s time to start looking. Today, searching for properties to rent has never been easier, and there are plenty of ways to track down the right one for you. Only on Boomin do you get to see the latest properties coming to the market and, with many filter options, you can easily home in on suitable spaces.

6. Start viewing properties

If the first place you see isn’t right, don’t worry. Book a few viewings for properties you like the look of. Be open to the fact that what you’re searching for might not exist, and that you may need to view a few before you settle on The One.

If you find a space you really like, act quickly. The rental market tends to be competitive, and it’s likely it’s already being eyed up by someone else.

7. Get your paperwork in order

As with anything in life, the better prepared you are, the better – full stop. Along with getting your finances in order, you’ll need to provide some paperwork before renting. Each agent may have their own list of requirements, but you can expect to get ready:

  • Photo ID (such as a valid passport or driving licence)
  • Proof of current address
  • Bank statements from the past three months
  • Reference from your current landlord/character reference
  • Reference from your employer 
  • Evidence of income (e.g., Recent payslips from your employer, or bank statements and tax returns if self-employed)

8. Read the contract

In most cases, you’ll be asked to sign an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST) before your tenancy starts. Read through it carefully, seeking legal advice if you’re unsure about anything. The contract will contain an inventory, which is a list of all the included items, such as furniture and appliances, as well as the current condition of the property. Ensure all stains, scratches and damage have been accounted for before you move in – as you could lose your deposit over these issues when you move out.

Start your rental property search here

Ready to rent a flat or house? Whether you’re looking to rent by yourself, with your other half or five friends, you can explore and discover more with Boomin. 

Our advanced property site offers a wide range of suitable spaces, and you can be the first to know about hot properties 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