Whether you’re renting a property for the first time, or you’ve rented before but need a reminder of the steps involved in securing a tenancy, our letting agents have put together this helpful, comprehensive private renting guide and what to expect throughout the process.
Renting a property can be a great solution if you want flexibility, no long-term financial commitments or the worry of maintenance costs. Some people choose private renting while they save for a deposit to buy a property later down the line. Whatever your reason, there are a few things to consider first.
As experienced local letting agents, we’ve helped many people find their next rental property in the Leytonstone area – but before you start your search, we always advise tenants to do the following first...
1. Calculate your budget
Private renting usually means that you’ll be responsible for all of the bills, so you need to work out rough costs for utilities, internet, phone, TV licence, water rates and council tax on top of your rent. You also need to budget for your initial costs, such as a deposit, a month’s rent in advance and moving costs.
2. Decide on your key criteria
First things first, what area do you want to live in? Once you have a location pinned down, think about the type of property and the size. Do you need outdoor space, or a spare room as an office or playroom? Do you want an open plan kitchen/diner for entertaining – or maybe a garage, shed or extra storage space? Do you want furnished or unfurnished? Building a picture of the kind of property you want to rent will help you narrow down your searches. It can pay to do a quick, preliminary search of rentals within your budget at this stage, just to ensure you’re being realistic – and if you find most places out of your reach, you’ll need to decide where you’re happy to compromise.
3. Register with your local letting agents
Want to be the first to know when a new rental property comes on the market? Take the time to register with your local letting agents and ask them to forward on any new properties that meet your criteria so you have a head-start. If you’re searching for for rental properties in Leytonstone or the East London area, you can register with us here.
So you’ve worked out your criteria and your rental budget and you’ve registered with your local letting agents. Now what?
Here’s our quick-fire guide to private renting.
1. Set up property alerts – as well as registering with local letting agents, it’s also worth doing the same with the major property websites. Most have the facility to set up alerts, so you’ll get notified of rental properties that meet your criteria as they become available. For example, some of the platforms we use include Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location and OnTheMarket.
2. Arrange some viewings – you may be bound by some time constraints if you have a previous tenancy due to expire or need to move ready for a new school term etc. If time allows, try to view a few different rental properties rather than just jumping on the first available opportunity. That said, if the market is moving fast, don’t hesitate if you find ‘the one’!
3. Express your interest – once you’ve found a property you’d like to rent, it’s time to express an interest to the landlord’s representative. You’ll need to provide some information at this stage, such as:
4. Check in with the agent – before you hand over any money, it’s worth checking a few final things with the letting agent so you know exactly where you stand – such as whether they’ll allow pets (now or in the future), whether you’re allowed to hang pictures or make minor cosmetic improvements and who’s responsible for maintaining outdoor areas (if you think they’ll pay for someone to mow your lawns, you’re wrong!).
5. Holding deposit – once the landlord agrees to offer you the tenancy, you’ll need a pay a non-refundable payment (generally equal to a week’s rent) to secure your interest. This demonstration of commitment will usually also guarantee you that the property will be taken off the market while things move to the next stage – ask the letting agent what their policy is, and be advised that in most scenarios the landlord/agent can’t take more than one holding deposit per private rental property.
6. Referencing and credit checks – now that both parties have agreed to proceed with the tenancy, the landlord’s letting agent will need to carry out a series of checks. They will need to confirm a few things, such as:
7. Guarantors – for tenants with lower incomes or less stable employment, to secure the property you may need to find a willing friend or family member to act as your legal guarantor. This offers some security for the landlord in the event that you fail to meet your rental payments, but it’s important that the guarantor understands their obligations e.g. they’ll be liable to cover the rent if you don’t.
8. Security/damage deposit – before signing of the tenancy agreement, you’ll need to pay your tenancy deposit to protect the landlord against unpaid rent or damages to the property. This is usually between a full month’s rent and 5 weeks rent and will be returned to you once your tenancy has ended and the property has been checked and found to be in a satisfactory state of return. If you’ve already paid an initial holding deposit, this is moved across towards your total move-in monies. Please always ensure your letting agent uses a government registered Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
9. Tenancy agreement – now it’s time to sign! In addition to the deposit above, you’ll also need to pay your first months’ rent in advance – then sign the tenancy agreement and the letting agent will hand over the keys on moving day!
10. Inventory – on moving day, your letting agent or landlord should provide you with an inventory. This document outlines the items included with the property e.g. any furniture/soft furnishings/appliances and its cosmetic condition. This allows both parties to cross-reference and agree on any amendments. Photos should ideally be taken to further evidence any existing issues and it’s also worth taking a photo of the gas/electric/water meters (as applicable) when you log the values together.
That’s it! You’re all done! The landlord has secured a tenant and you have a lovely new rental property to call home for a while (hopefully for as long as you need it). Don’t forget to advise all relevant parties of your change your address and set up a postal redirect from your previous property for a while too.
If you’re looking at renting a house in Leytonstone or the East London area, the team at Trading Places are here to help – and without blowing our own trumpets, we think we have a bit of an edge over other local estate agents. Here’s why...
We have many accreditations and professional memberships under our belts:
We’re also award winners! Over the years we’ve been the proud recipients of accolades from:
We’re always here to act as your guide to renting a property and to offer any advice you require – just get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help!