Finding a new rental, or moving into one for the first time, is an exciting experience. But it can also be stressful.
Competition is high for rentals, especially nice ones, so finding one you like before someone else gets it can be difficult!
The trick is to ensure you’re prepared. Knowing exactly what you want from a rental and having all the documents you need to rent before viewings can get you ahead of the game.
Want to know what you need to rent a flat? Keep reading to learn the answers to your top questions, including “What do you need to rent a flat?” and, “What documents do I need to rent a flat?”.
What Do You Need to Consider Before Renting a Flat?
Choosing somewhere to live is a big decision. The good thing about renting is that most tenancies are short-term, between 1-3 years, so you can move around if you aren’t happy with where you live.
However, it’s still important to ensure you’re renting somewhere you like, that feels safe, and isn’t a scam.
Keep reading for our top 7 things to consider before renting a flat.
1. Do you like the location?
Where we live plays an important part in how happy we feel at home. If you have a choice over where you rent, consider things like:
- How noisy is it?
- How safe does it feel?
- What are the local crime rates?
- What’s nearby?
- Do you have access to public transport?
- What internet speeds are available?
- Are there good takeaways? (not essential, but it’s still important to consider!)
2. What “hidden” costs are there?
The figure shown on the property listing isn’t always the price you need to pay. Service charges may also apply, which can change during the tenancy.
Always ask the letting agent or landlord what charges you’ll need to pay before setting your sights somewhere.
Related article: 10 Questions to ask when viewing a rental
3. Are the charges legal?
Since the Tenant Fee Ban of 2019, letting agents and landlords can’t charge what they want. There are rules about what fees they can collect and how much they can charge for them.
Some lawful fees include:
- A rent deposit
- Upfront rent for the first few months
- A holding deposit to reserve the property
Check the list of banned fees to ensure you aren’t getting scammed.
Related article: 10+ Things landlords DON’T want tenants to know
4. What condition is it in?
Rentals are often in high demand, and you don’t always have a lot of choice about what you can afford in certain areas. However, it’s still important to consider the property’s condition carefully before proceeding.
Certain issues, like black mould, can have a huge impact on your health and cause major changes to how you live your life at home.
Other issues could be less severe but are a landlord’s responsibility to fix before you move in. You should never move into a property on the promise that issues will be fixed after signing the tenancy.
Related article: Mould in rental property: why it’s bad & should you rent it?
5. Why are the previous tenants leaving?
Numerous reasons can cause tenants to move. Usually, moving is harmless and usually related to things like changing jobs, wanting somewhere bigger, moving in with a spouse, etc.
However, it could be because there are issues like:
- Bad neighbours or roommates
- Repair/maintenance issues with the property
- Problems with the landlord
- Issues with the local area (like break-ins, bad connection speeds, noise, etc.)
The letting agent or landlord may not always be upfront about why the previous tenants are leaving. Look for clues and always dig deeper into their answers to see what you can learn.
Related article: Landlord won’t fix heating, what can I do?
6. Is the landlord legit?
Another important thing to consider before renting a flat is whether the landlord or letting agent is legit!
Most letting agents are lawful, but if something feels off, check their registration via the National Trading Standards Property Agent Checker.
You can check the landlord owns the property by asking your local council.
Related article: How to check your rent deposit is protected in 1 step
7. Does everything seem legit?
Finally, asking yourself whether everything seems legit before sending money or signing a tenancy is important. As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Trust your gut if something feels off. Get a second opinion if you think a rental could be a scam, especially if you’re a first-time renter. You can:
- Ask a friend or family member
- Join an online renter community on social media to ask
- Search online for answers
- Read our expert renting guides
- Speak to Citizen’s Advice
Never rent a property or send money if something feels off, no matter how much the landlord or letting agent tries to reassure you. Always do your checks first to make sure it’s not a scam.
What Documents Do You Need to Rent a Flat? 3 Essential Documents
Before renting a property, you’ll need to go through tenant referencing. This is a 3-stage process all letting agents and landlords must participate in by law to check you’re eligible to rent.
The checks involve an identity check to ensure you have the right to rent in the UK, a financial check to ensure you can afford the property, and a reference check to learn more about you.
Your letting agent or landlord should tell you exactly what documents you need to apply for a rental.
However, to help you prepare, here’s the answer to the question, “What documents do I need to rent a flat?”.
1. Proof of identity
Firstly, to check you are who you say you are and to ensure you have the right to rent in the UK, you’ll need to provide proof of identity.
The documents you’ll be asked for before renting include:
- Proof of address, like a driving license or utility bill
- Proof of identity, like a copy of a passport or identity card
- Proof of right to rent, like a visa (if you’re moving to the UK)
Your letting agent should provide you with a full list of documents they’ll accept for proof of address.
2. Proof of income and employment status
The next set of documents you’ll need to rent in the UK is proof of your income and employment status.
What documents you’ll need will vary depending on where you work, how you work, and what type of contract you have.
For example, if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to show different documents (like tax returns) compared to if you’re employed full-time.
Usually, you’ll be asked for some/all the following documents as proof of income/employment:
- 3-6 recent payslips
- A copy of your employment contract
Related article: How Lifetime Deposits can help with rent deposit
It’s a good idea to gather your references before applying for a property. Competition is high, so if you’re prepared, you can send your application as soon as you find somewhere.
References are designed to help landlords learn more about your character. This isn’t because they want to get to know you, but because they want to know whether you’ll care for their property or not.
If you’ve rented before, you’ll usually need to provide references from:
- A previous landlord (ideally one you had a good relationship with)
- An employer
A reference from your current or former employer is usually acceptable if you haven't rented before.
What Does Every Person Need to Own When Renting a Flat?
Alongside the documents you need to rent a flat, there are other essentials every renter should own! If you’re a first-time renter, it’s a good idea to ensure you have things like:
- A set of basic tools – Most tenants have responsibilities for fixing minor house repairs, so you should have access to a few tools
- A first aid kit – Every home should have one!
- A plunger – You never know when you’ll need it!
- Spare batteries and lightbulbs – Tenants are usually responsible for changing these things
- Contents insurance – It’s optional, but ensures your belongings are protected in case of a break-in
- A Lifetime Deposit – It’s not essential, but it’s a deposit that moves home with you, so you don’t need to save up every time you move!
Keep reading for our checklist of 40+ things every new renter needs.
Are You Moving Rental?
If you’re about to rent a new property, we have good news! You no longer need to save up every time you move.
For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.
A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.
We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!