Renting from a private landlord

Private tenant advice

Before you agree to rent a property from a private landlord have a good look at the property.

Take a friend or family member with you so you have a second opinion.

Go in daylight hours so you can see the condition of the property.

Take a notepad and make notes of anything you're not sure of or need to ask the landlord.

It may be useful to check the following things:

  • Does the roof look in reasonable condition? Are there any slates missing?
  • Check for problems with drains and gutters,
  • How is the property heated? Gas central heating is the cheapest way to heat a property,
  • What is the condition of doors and windows? Do they open and shut properly?
  • Is there any damp or mould?
  • Is there a smoke detector?
  • Check the meters for gas and electricity - what are the payment methods, do you need a pre-payment card?
  • Turn on the water to see if it works,
  • If the property is furnished ask for an inventory and check the condition of items listed on it and that they are accurately described. Get this signed and keep a copy,
  • Is the property secure?
  • Is there a current Gas Safety Certificate?
  • What is the condition of the kitchen and bathroom and are they well ventilated?
  • Are there enough electrical sockets in each of the rooms and do they work?

Make sure you have your landlord's details, or the details of their managing agent; their name, address and phone number so that you can report problems, or tell them you want to leave. 

You have a legal right to these details. The person who collects the rent must give you a contact address in England or Wales.

Before you move in you should normally sign a 'tenancy agreement' - a legal contract that sets out your rights and responsibilities, and the rights and responsibilities of your landlord. This will most likely be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (unless you will be living with your landlord). This usually runs for a set time, usually 6 or 12 months.

The landlord doesn't have to give you a written tenancy agreement, but you have the right to a written 'statement' which should include:

  • The date the tenancy began,
  • The amount of rent and the dates it should be paid,
  • The arrangements for increasing the rent,
  • The length of the tenancy

Make sure you can pay the rent set in the tenancy agreement and know how and when you are expected to pay this. Ensure you have claimed housing benefit if necessary.

Tenancy agreements are contracts that give you legal responsibilities, so make sure you have read and understood it before you sign it.

Make sure the details are correct - your name, the address, the date the tenancy starts, how long it lasts, landlord contact details etc

If you are unsure about signing then ask for a copy to take away and read it in your own time before signing it.

If the landlord or letting agency asks you for a deposit or bond then you should always get a receipt for this.

You should also ask which tenancy deposit scheme they intend to put your money into. By law, all deposits should be put into a protection scheme and you should be provided with details on which scheme the money has been placed into.

For further information see Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme