Where do I start?
Whether you are looking for a self contained flat or house, or just a room, there are many ways to find a home to rent. A good place to start your search is through friends, local newspapers and newsagent shop windows.
You can use the National Association of Estate Agents website to look for registered estate agents. The Shelter website also has useful info on letting agencies.
The National Approved Letting Scheme is an accreditation scheme for lettings and management agents. You can also get advice and information on private sector renting from your local council's housing department.
The tenancy agreement is a written document that must be agreed between tenant and landlord before the tenant moves in. Make sure you check it carefully and fully understand the agreement, before you sign. The tenancy agreement should include the following:
the amount of rent
the amount of deposit
how often rent is paid
how long the tenancy is for
who is responsible for decoration and repairs
an inventory of equipment and furniture in case of damage.
If the agreement allows for a rent review, your landlord may only increase it once per year.
There are several types of tenancy agreement in the private rented sector. The most usual is an assured shorthold tenancy for a fixed term of not less than six months. Shelter has more information on tenancy types.
When moving into a new rented room or home, it is usual for the landlord or letting agency to ask for a month's rent in advance and a further month's rent as deposit. However, sometimes the deposit may be six weeks' rent or even more.
Since April 2007, all deposits (for rent up to £25,000 per annum) taken by landlords and letting agents for Assured Shorthold Tenancies must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. More information on these schemes is available from Direct.gov and Shelter.
More information on other aspects of private renting is available from Shelter.
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