Advice for private tenants

Looking for accommodation

Calculate what you can afford

Before looking at properties you would like to move to you will first have to calculate how much you can afford each month for essential bills such as:

  • Rent
  • Council Tax
  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Water
You should also consider the cost of contents insurance.

You should complete a simple income and expenditure exercise by listing your total household expenses against your total household income. You might be spending money on non-essential items (such as Sky TV or gym memberships). By removing the cost of non-essential items may mean that your essential costs, such as your rent and bills may become more affordable.

If you are on a low income or are not working you may be able to apply for Housing Benefit to assist you with the cost of rent. How much you are entitled to is determined by the LHA rates (Local Housing Allowance).  You should also find out if you are entitled to any additional income.   
If you are a single person under the age of 35 and are relying on Housing Benefit for financial assistance with the rent you will be subject to the shared accommodation rate, which means that you will need to find a room in a shared property.  

Search for a private rented home

Once you know how much you can afford you should begin your search for a rented home using the internet, or local sources of information such as libraries, local newspapers and community centres.  Websites allow you to filter your search criteria to help you find a suitable home:

Many people who rent their home do it through a letting agency. However be aware that letting agencies can charge a fee for using their services.

Be prepared for the landlord to want to run a credit check on you.  You will also normally need ID confirmation you are eligible to stay in the UK, references and proof you can pay the rent when you apply to rent a property. The Shelter website details how private landlords check tenants.

Before you sign anything always ensure that you:

  • Ask about additional fees
  • Read the tenancy agreement thoroughly 
  • Agree the inventory (this is the list of items recorded in the property)

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