How to rent a house
Before you begin the process of finding a suitable flat or house to rent, give as much consideration to your requirements as you would if you were buying.
Be clear about the kind of property you are looking for, where you want to live, what amenities you need to be close to and the budget you have available.
Houses and flats to rent are generally on and off the market more quickly than properties for sale, so you'll need to move quickly and be ready to pounce when the right property arrives on the market.
Decide on your requirements
- Flat, house, studio, room?
- Length of tenancy period?
- Furnished or unfurnished?
- Number of bedrooms, bathrooms, reception rooms?
- Off-street parking?
Set a budget
Set yourself a manageable budget and stick to it. Letting agents market rental properties either by stating the weekly rental price or the monthly rental price. Be aware that a £400 a week rental price does not mean a cost of £1,600 a month. Multiply the weekly rent by 4.33 to get your monthly rental costs. Try not to be tempted (or let your agent tempt you) into looking at properties beyond what you can comfortably afford.
Search for property to rent on PrimeLocation now and look at the local prices, both to make sure that your budget is sensible and to get an understanding of what your budget is likely to achieve in the current market.
In addition to your rental costs, you'll also need to budget for other related expenses. These might include:
- Your own house contents insurance: you will need to arrange this yourself for all your personal belongings inside the property
- Council tax: the tenant is often responsible for paying this, so ask for an estimated cost from the agent or landlord
- Utility bills: you will be expected to take on most of these bills (sometimes water bills are paid by the landlord) from the day you move in
- Service charges: if the property is in a block of flats or is a serviced apartment, there may be a service charge to pay, so clarify with your agent or landlord whether it's included in the rent or an additional charge
- Deposit: typically the value of a month's rent
- Removal costs: budget for the cost of hiring a removal company
There are plenty of factors to consider when thinking about the location of a property. It is important that you prioritise what's most important to you in terms of location before starting the search, as this will save time in the long run.
For example, how important are the local amenities to you, the commute distance to work, accessibility to restaurants and bars, access to public transport, closeness to friends or relatives, crime rates and neighbours? All of these things will vary in importance, but it pays to prioritise them, and any other factors that may be relevant, to help you determine your ideal location and to make your search as efficient as possible.
For more information on particular locations you may already have in mind, why not search for a suitable property?
Other rental considerations
There are plenty of options for those looking for property to rent in terms of the types of accommodation available, but much will depend on your personal circumstances and your lifestage. The types of property might include:
- A house or flat with a sole tenancy: a person or family are the only tenants in the property
- A house or flatshare: a person or couple may rent a room in a property also occupied by other tenants, or a group of friends may share occupancy and split the rent between them
- Studio flats: usually a single room containing bathroom, kitchen and bed
- Lodging: renting a room from a private property owner who also resides in the property
- Purpose built rental accommodation: often student accommodation with individual lockable bedrooms and communal kitchen and bathroom facilities.
Many rental properties will be listed as being furnished or unfurnished, while in some cases the landlord may be flexible about letting you decide which option you prefer. While a furnished property may take away the hassle of having to buy lots of new furniture, damaging the existing landlord's furniture or fittings may increase the risk of your deposit being swallowed up.
Searching for property to rent
Once you have a firm idea of what you're looking for and where, it's time to start searching for the right rental property for you. These days, searching for rental properties has never been easier and there are plenty of ways to track down the one for you.
A property portal, such as PrimeLocation, is the best place to search tens of thousands of properties all over the country and abroad. In fact, according to research by PrimeLocation, property hunters rate the internet as their preferred and most used source for finding property. You can search for property to rent on PrimeLocation right now.
There are many advantages of searching online for property to rent, including:
- Convenience: search amongst the properties of thousands of agents, all in one place
- Greater choice: search by price, number of bedrooms, location, or by keywords
- Access to photos and floorplans: get detailed information on each individual property
- Getting email alerts: register with PrimeLocation and get free emails alerts about suitable properties to rent as soon as they come to market
- Managing saved properties: you can save and manage relevant properties to rent that you find on the site in your own 'myPrimeLocation' dedicated area, exclusive to you
- Knowing your market: you can get up to speed on the latest rental market conditions by reading the latest PrimeLocation Rental Price Index
- Finding the letting agents with the best properties: a great place to start finding lettings agents to register with. Search for letting agents in your area now
- Saving time: by searching for property to rent online, you can save time by discarding properties you don't want to view and quickly finding those you do want to view.
Other ways of searching
In addition to the Internet, there are a number of other ways you can search for property. These might include:
- Local newspapers and classified sections: a useful source for finding properties, but be aware that by the time many papers are printed, some properties may have already have been let
- Letting agents: walk into your local estate agent offices and ask for details of relevant houses and flats which you can look through at your leisure. It's a good indicator of whether the agent has on their books a decent number of properties to rent that match your criteria
- 'To Let' boards in your area: drive around your designated areas and have a look at any 'To Let' boards that are up and make a note of which agents they are with
- Property search agents: you can always hire a firm to find relevant properties to rent for you, arrange viewings for you and give you advice on securing your property for you. Find a property search agent on PrimeLocation.
- Make sure the agents you deal with are members of Association of Residential Letting Agents as they have a code of practice all agents must adhere to
- It pays to contact as many letting agents as you can find in your local area to give you the best chance of finding properties to rent
- Keep in touch with agents regularly by telephone, as rental properties tend to come and go quite quickly, particularly in a fast-moving market - persistence pays
Be aware, once you've found a rental property, letting agents will charge you a fee to handle administrative work, such as checking references. These administrative costs can range from £25 to £150 or more, depending on the agent, the property and the location. In addition, they may also ask for a holding deposit of £50 to £200 or more to secure the property for you, and will subsequently deduct it from your first month's rent. Try and establish these costs with the agents in advance of your search as they may vary.
Viewing properties to rent
Before you begin the task of viewing a property, make sure you clarify with the agent that the house or flat meets your requirements so you don't waste any time. While you're viewing an unsuitable property, you may be missing out on the one that's right for you.
Take a look at our rental property viewing checklist for everything you need to know about what to look out for in a rental property and questions to ask the agent or landlord.
Making a complaint
Very occasionally, things can go wrong. If you have a complaint about the conduct of an agent, you can contact the Ombudsman for Estate Agents. It provides an independent service for dealing with a dispute between member estate agents and consumers who are actual or potential buyers or sellers of residential property in Britain.
The OEA will advise on alternative routes to take if the estate agent you wish to complain about is not a member. You can also contact the local council's trading standards department.
Registering your details with letting agents is one of the more common ways to source a property. You can either visit the local agents on the high street or you can find a local letting agent on PrimeLocation.