A Guide to Renting for the First Time
Your first time renting? No problem - our blog will help walk you through the process and outlines the seven steps to finding, securing and moving in to your new home
1) Setting your budget
Consider how much you can afford to spend on rent each month. You should consider how much any other tenants will be contributing to the rent as well. You should consider other costs that you may not be incurring now that you might start to when you start renting. Some examples include:-
Even food! (If somebody else pays for this now)
You should also consider that most properties will require a deposit up front. This is normally equivalent to 4 or 5 weeks rent and you will need to pay this before moving into the property along with the first month's rent.
We would recommend that you set a maximum rent and don't increase it without revisiting your budget. If you look at properties that are significantly more than you can afford you may well come to regret it when you can't achieve similar within your price range!
2) Make a wish list
You and any other tenants should make a list of requirements. Some of these may be non-negotiable and others you may be prepared to compromise on. You should consider which category each requirement falls into at this stage. Some things to consider are:-
Location - are you looking at a specific city, town, village or even street? The larger your search area the more options you'll have
How many bedrooms? If you are sharing with friends, is somebody happy to take the box room? If so, will they pay less rent? If not, you may need to consider adding one to your number of bedrooms requirement
Length of tenancy - how long do you want to live in a property
Should the property be furnished or unfurnished?
Do you need parking? If so, for how many cars? Is on street parking acceptable?
Do you want a garden? This means more maintenance as it will be your responsibility to take care of but if you love a BBQ then it's a must!
Does the property need to accept pets? If so be up front with the agent and landlord from day 1!
3) Get your paperwork in order
DON'T wait until you have found your perfect home to do this. The market moves quickly and by the time you've produced the documents you need the property might have been let to somebody else. As a general rule you will need the following documents:-
Proof of Current Address
3 months Bank Statements
3 months Payslips (or at least 1 year of tax return(s) if you are self employed)
If you are renting for the first time it is possible that you may be asked for a guarantor. You should be prepared for this and ask whoever you have in mind in plenty of time. It is likely that most Landlords will want a guarantor to be an employed homeowner in the UK.
4) Search for properties to rent
The best place to start is on Rightmove and Zoopla - although most properties are listed on both so you may well see most properties twice. You can also set up email alerts so you are made aware as soon as any properties come to the market.
If you are struggling you should contact any estate or letting agents in your search area. Ask them if they know of anything coming to market that hasn't been listed yet and ask to be added to their emailing list so you are made aware as soon as any properties come to the market. It's also worth calling into the branch to put a face to the name. Often the agent listing the property will also be managing it and letting them know you would be good, friendly tenants can go a long way.
If you are searching in Chester, Cheshire, North Wales or on the Wirral you can see our available properties here.
5) Go on viewings
This is your chance to get a feel for the property and also ask any questions you might have. Some ideas for questions could include:-
What is the local area like? Where's the nearest supermarket? Where are the nearest schools and which ones are the best?
When will the property be available?
Are council tax and utilities included?
How much is the deposit?
Is anything here that will be removed before move in? Are the white goods going to be left?
What are the parking arrangements?
Who will be managing the property? The Landlord or the Agent?
If you find that the property is perfect we would recommend getting things moving as quickly as possible and tell the agent you want to proceed as soon as possible
6) Secure the property
This is where preparing your paperwork in advance will pay dividends!
The agent will normally ask you to fill in a tenant application form. This will ask you for all of your personal information, any adverse credit history and employment information. You should be completely honest on this application. If you are the only people wanting the property hopefully it will be plain sailing from here. If not, it is likely that all of the tenant application forms will be sent to the Landlord who will then choose who they want to proceed with. Click here to read our guide to standing out in the crowd.
If you are chosen - congratulations! The agent will usually ask for a holding deposit which should be no more than the equivalent of one weeks rent. If you choose not to proceed with the tenancy , fail a right to rent check or haven't been truthful on your application form you will not get this back.
Referencing is the next step and all that paperwork will need to be sent off and checked. If needed at this stage you may be asked to provide a guarantor.
Subject to all that coming back ok you are good to go! You will be sent a tenancy agreement along with lots of other documentation which you should read carefully before signing. You will be asked to pay the full deposit and the first month's rent prior to move in day
7) Moving In
We have some helpful tips for moving house which you can read here.
You should take meter readings when you move in and contact all utility providers and the council to let them know you have moved in and will be responsible for bills and council tax moving forwards. You should also update the electoral roll.
You should also take out contents insurance. The Landlord will have insurance that covers their property but in the event of a fire, flood, break in etc. none of your possessions will be covered. You can also take out insurance for any accidental damage you or your guests cause to the Landlord's fixtures and fittings but this is optional. We can help you arrange this insurance should you wish - just get in touch!
Often you will be provided with an inventory or schedule of condition on move in. You should check this carefully and make a note of any issues that aren't in the schedule so that you cannot be held liable for this damage on departure. You should report any issues in writing to your Landlord or letting agent within 7 days of moving in.