A five-minute guide to renting a house

A five-minute guide to renting a house

Renting is fast becoming a popular choice later in life, with 45 per cent of renters aged over 45. The benefits of renting are no long-term mortgage commitments, fewer outgoings and your landlord is responsible for maintenance, so you could save money in your retirement.

How do I find a property to rent?

Private landlords often advertise in the local paper or on websites such as www.rightmove.co.uk and www.zoopla.co.uk. You can also contact local lettings agencies who rent properties on behalf of landlords. Most have high street offices you can visit.

What should I check at a house viewing?

“Renting is a big decision, so always view the house, ideally with a friend, to see if it’s right for you,” says Nadeem. “Make sure you ask the landlord about the rent and monthly bills as well as checking the house outside and in to see if it’s in good condition.” You need to confirm who’s responsible for any repairs and if  it’s furnished, too.

If you can, go back to the house after dark with a friend and speak to current neighbours to see if it’s an area you feel safe in.

What happens before I move in?

First, you’ll need to sign a contract. “Before you sign, make sure you know how long the agreement is for and how you renew or end your tenancy,” says Nadeem.

Your landlord may then ask for a deposit. This has to be safeguarded in a government-sponsored scheme so ask the landlord which scheme they use and any deposit codes you need to keep safe. If you rent through a letting agent, they will sort all of  this out for you.

You should also get an inventory, detailing the condition of everything in the house. Check this is correct and take photographs around the rooms, just in case there are any disputes about damage later.

What can I do if I have any problems?

If you have a major dispute with your landlord, or think you’re a victim of rental fraud (where you’ve paid a deposit on a property that isn’t to let), contact your local council. Or call Shelter’s professional advice team on 0808 800 4444 or drop into your local Shelter centre.

What's my landlord responsible for?

  • Repairing the house’s structure – the roof, drains, walls, windows and central heating
  • Keeping the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity in safe working order
  • Insuring the property, but not the contents
  • Sorting out damage indoors caused by disrepair or when work is carried out, including repainting and replacing broken items.

As a tenant, you must report problems straight away as well as keeping the house clean and well-aired. You’ll need permission to decorate, take in lodgers, or to keep any pets.

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