Do your research and figure out the specific areas you'd like to rent in. Make a list of the things that are really important to you, like transport links, schools, access to shops and use these to focus your search. Be sure to share your list of 'must-haves' and 'nice-to-haves' with the local estate agents so they can start working for you.
Identify which local agents are marketing the type of property you like in your preferred area/s and make contact with them. Make sure the agent registers you on the system and take care to give them all your contact details - the lettings business is fast-moving and you don't want to miss out on your ideal property.
Be very clear about when you need to move into your rental property. If you need somewhere urgently, let the agent know. They'll be sympathetic and will do all they can to find you a suitable place.
Try to be available and as flexible as possible. Yes, we've said it before, but the lettings business is incredibly fast moving and when a good property comes to the market there can be a rush to view and offers are often made immediately. You could miss out if you can't make yourself available within 24 hours of the agent contacting you.
Don't necessarily be put off by details in the property. If you don't like the wall colour, or the sofa isn't big enough, have a chat with the agent. We encourage our landlords to be flexible and accommodate tenant's requests whenever possible.
If you want the landlord to undertake any improvement works, or add/remove furniture, put in your request as soon as you decide to make an offer. It can be much harder to get these jobs agreed once you have moved in.
Once your offer has been accepted you'll need to hand over your deposit. The agent will be responsible for putting it into an approved tenancy deposit holding scheme and they should pass on the details to you - make sure you hold on to these.
All estate agents will need to conduct security checks on behalf of the landlord, so make sure you have details of all your previous addresses to hand. Likewise, let your employer, and any other referees, know to expect a request for a reference.
When you agree to rent a property you will be expected to pay a security deposit and the first month's rent. There will be other administration fees that you will be liable for, too, like references and drawing up the tenancy agreement. All tenants fees can be found on local offices microsites.
Within the tenancy agreement you may also find that extra charges will apply if there is an unexpected change of tenant and also at the time the tenancy is renewed. At the end of the tenancy it's common for the outgoing tenant(s) to be charged for the inventory check-out. Check your tenancy agreement to see if these items are covered.
Find out who is managing your property and make sure you have been given all their contact details. That way, if something goes wrong in the property, you'll know who to get in touch with.
Look after the property as if it were your own. This reduces the likelihood of disputes over damage when the tenancy comes to an end.
Remember that you should arrange insurance cover for your furnishings and personal property - the landlord is not responsible for insuring these items.
If the property was professionally cleaned when you moved in, then the chances are you will need to arrange for the same to be done when you move out. Whoever is managing the property - be it the estate agent or the landlord - they will want to see a receipt for the cleaning.
It goes without saying that you should leave the property in tip top condition and remove all your belongings, otherwise you risk losing part, or all of your deposit.
This guide is for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. It provides a checklist and more detailed information on each stage of the process, including: