Renting a property has the benefit of giving you flexibility and is a good option if you want to live in a city where it may not be affordable to buy your own property. It is also a good idea to rent if you are looking for a short term option and haven’t decided where you want to live in the longer term. Renting can also be convenient as you don’t need to worry about maintenance or repair costs for the property. There are however a number of financial and practical considerations that you need to be aware of.
There are a number of financial considerations to consider when it comes to renting a private property.
You will need to pay a deposit and letting agency fees up front, before you move in, as well as the first month’s rent – this means you will need a lump sum of money if you choose to go down this route.
Your rental payment may cover some of your utility bills, you should check what is and isn’t included in the monthly rent, including things such as:
- Gas, electricity and water
- Council tax
- Broadband fees
- Contents insurance
The Money Advice Service provides helpful guidance on managing your bills.
You can find out more information about setting up utilities through Citizens Advice.
- Deposit cap: The deposit you have to pay should not be more than 5 weeks’ rent (where annual rent is less than £50,000) or 6 weeks’ rent (where annual rent is more than £50,000).
- Deposit protection: If your landlord asks for a deposit, check that it will be protected in a government approved scheme. Your deposit should be returned to you when the tenancy ends.
- Your rights: As a tenant you have the right to live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair. You may be able to take legal action if your landlord fails to deal with repairs. A new law was introduced in March 2019 to make sure that rented flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that can cause serious harm. You can find more information about the law here.
- Length of tenancy: A rental agreement is usually for a fixed length of 6 or 12 months. Even if the tenancy is not for a fixed period your landlord must allow you to stay in the property for a minimum of 6 months.
- Checking your tenancy agreement: It is important that you read any tenancy agreement carefully before signing.
You can find more information about renting a property and a landlord’s obligations on the government’s website.