Our how to rent guide is designed to help you on your rental journey. The last few years have seen demand for rental property soar and the rental game has changed with new rules and rent rises. Here’s what you need to know.
Navigating the rental market
Renting in some areas in 2024 won’t be without its challenges. With fewer available properties, you may need to act quickly as competition is high.
Not only are there fewer properties on the market, but rents have increased across the country.
Although things might sound a bit more challenging nowadays, there are still plenty of ways you can prepare yourself.
Your how to rent guide 2024 checklist
First things first, let’s tick off all the 7 different things in this rent guide, you’ll need to consider before letting a property:
1. Organise your finances
Before any move, it’s important to get your finances in order. In terms of affordability, look at your income open month and work out what you can afford in rent and bills as a total outgoing each month.
You’ll need a deposit, so if you haven’t already, start saving. A rental deposit is often equal to one month’s rent upfront, payable in advance. It shouldn’t be more than 5 weeks rent.
In some cases you might be required to put down a holding deposit which is paid in advance to reserve the property after viewing – however this doesn’t secure the tenancy. When a holding deposit has been paid this can be deducted from your tenancy deposit.
In addition, you’ll then need to pay your first month’s rent.
2. Where to rent
The cost of renting a house is largely determined by location and the type of property. Living in a city with great transport links has its perks but central locations can be more expensive.
To find an affordable rental home in or around your preferred location, it’s always worth looking a little further afield. You’ll need to factor in any commuting costs though.
Pick an area and research the price of properties there.
If you don’t know the area that well, give it a visit and get a feel for it, night and day. Ensure you’ll be happy living somewhere before you commit. You might not be buying there, but it will still be your home!
Our property report can help you get to know an area better, providing information on everything from crime rates to local schools.
3. Types of rental homes
When looking for a rental home in the UK, there’s a variety of options to consider, each catering to different needs and lifestyles. Here we will delve into these diverse types of rental homes, helping you find the one that best fits your requirements.
Private renting refers to the process of leasing a residential property directly from a private landlord or through a letting agency. It offers tenants the flexibility to choose from a variety of property types and locations. This arrangement is common for individuals, families, or professionals seeking temporary or long-term housing solutions.
You may decide if you want a furnished or unfurnished rental property. There are pros and cons to both, so look at your individual situation to work out what’s right for you.
Make sure you know exactly what’s included. Even if a property is ‘unfurnished’ you may still expect white goods, e.g., a fridge.
New homes built for renters
New homes built for renters, often referred to as build-to-rent (BTR) properties, are a growing trend in the UK. These developments are designed exclusively for renting and provide residents with stylish, modern living spaces. London is the UK’s leading city for BTR homes, boasting over 100 communities, but other major cities like Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds, and Bristol also feature such properties. BTR homes offer exclusive amenities like concierge services, on-site social spaces, and fast maintenance repairs.
Single family homes
Single-family homes in the UK’s rental market are standalone properties intended for occupation by one family or individual. Unlike apartment blocks, these homes are not attached to other properties and usually feature their own outdoor space. They are larger than other types of rental properties, offering more room for families. In the context of build-to-rent, single-family homes provide the benefits of professional management and flexible rental contracts, though they may lack common build-to-rent amenities like gyms and lounges.
Home of multiple occupation (HMO)
A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a type of private rented accommodation shared by several people under a single landlord. Various property types fall under the HMO category, including shared houses or flats and many more. HMOs cater to a diverse range of renters, offering shared living spaces and individual private areas within the property.
Co-living is on the rise, it is an emerging form of modern housing characterized by shared living spaces and a community-oriented lifestyle. It’s designed not only for shared physical space but also for fostering shared interests, values, and intentions among residents. Co-living arrangements can range from single-family units with communal areas to large buildings with private bedrooms connected to a shared living space. This concept is particularly popular among young urban professionals aged between 20-30, who value social interaction and collaboration.
4. Guide to running costs for renting
It’s not only upfront costs, like the deposit and rent. Don’t forget to factor the following into your monthly outgoings:
- Gas, water, council tax, internet.
- New furniture (if ifs not furnished).
- Contents insurance
- TV licence
- Parking permits
5. Documents you need when renting
When you rent you will need to go through a tenant screening process, also referred to as tenant vetting. This is when a landlord or letting agent checks your finances and stability as their prospective tenant.
- Proof of identity – e.g., passport, driver’s licence
- Proof of employment
- Proof of salary & earnings e.g., recent payslips, usually 3-months’ worth. If self-employed or freelance, you may need to show evidence of tax returns. There may also be a more in-depth vetting process.
- Credit history – landlords and letting agencies often check your credit history when you apply to rent a property. This is one of the key ways they assess if you’re a reliable tenant. It’s not just about whether you’ve got the funds; it’s also about how consistent and responsible you are with your payments.
- References for renting for the first time – usually from a current or past employer. If you’ve rented before, you might be asked for a previous landlord’s reference.
6. Renting guide through a letting agent
- The type of property you rent will determine whether you engage with letting agent or a private landlord.
- Letting agents are professionals and can provide valuable support in understanding your tenancy agreement. It’s important you read it thoroughly BEFORE you sign.
- They should also hold your deposit in a secure tenancy deposit scheme and advise you of which one.
7. Understanding contracts in your how to rent guide
There are many different types of tenancy agreements, with the most common being an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). It’s really important you read through any contract thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.
Don’t be afraid to question anything that you don’t understand or doesn’t seem right.
Things to look out for:
- Break clauses
- Tenancy length
- Termination policy
- Clauses e.g. pets, smoking
- Late payment fees
- End of tenancy – e.g. cleaning
- What will be your tenancy terms? Check if you’re on a rolling or fixed-term contract.
Hidden renting fees
Always read the fine print in your contract to ensure you’re not caught off guard later. Look for:
- Change of sharer fee – if someone moves out and a new tenant moves in.
- Late payment fees – some contracts still include these, although they should be reasonable.
Renting with bad credit
Renting with bad credit might be harder, but it’s not impossible.
It might be worth checking to see if you’re eligible for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help. Other options you might want to consider are:
- Getting a rental guarantor
- Being open and honest
- Offering a larger deposit
2024 how to rent guide
Being prepared will make all the difference. So, before you take the plunge, get to grips with the current rental market in the area you’re moving to, keep an eye on your budget, and be alert to the small print. Budget carefully and ask plenty of questions.
Subscribe to my email newsletter and stay in touch!
Last Updated: November 27th, 2023