Renting in the private sector

Before and after you view a property

Before you view a property 

Type of accommodation

Find out:

  • the type of property
  • how many bedrooms it has – are they single or double
  • how many living rooms it has
  • whether it is furnished or unfurnished
  • whether it is self-contained
  • whether it is shared – and if so what facilities and rooms are shared

Rent and extras

Find out:

  • what the rent is - and if you’re sharing, if it’s charged per room or person
  • If the landlord accepts housing benefit – if that’s how you plan to pay your rent
  • if the rent includes bills
  • if the landlord provides any extras such as laundry or a cleaner

Deposit, advance rent and tenancy

Find out:

  • if you need to pay a deposit and if so how much
  • if you need to pay a month’s rent in advance
  • if you’ll have a written agreement

A written agreement will set out the terms of the tenancy including:

  • the date the tenancy begins
  • the length of the tenancy
  • the amount of rent payable and when it is due
  • the length of notice you and your landlord need to give if the tenancy is to be brought to an end

After you view a property

Promised improvements

Check the overall condition of the property. If the landlord says problems will be fixed when you move in, ask them to confirm in writing when this will be done.

Ask for an inventory

You can ask for an inventory which lists the contents of the property and the condition of things like fittings or any furniture. You must ask the landlord or their agent to sign this before making a copy for your own records.

Find out who pays the bills

If you’ll be sharing, check who’s responsible for paying the bills.

Gas and electricity

Check if there’s adequate heating in the property. You can also ask to see the gas and electric safety certificates. Find out if there’s a key or card meter for the electricity or gas and if readings will be taken before you move in.

Security checks  

Check if the property’s secure:

  • if doors and windows can be locked and you’re sharing, ask if you’ll have your own key
  • ask if anyone else has a key and when they would use it, for example, a cleaner