The first time renter's checklist - 5 things you need to do

The first time renter's checklist - 5 things you need to do

There’s no question buying a home can be a daunting prospect.

But renting for the first time, too, is not without its fears.

The best way to overcome that is to be organised before embarking on your search for a first rental property.

Here’s everything you need to do before you start… 

  1. Sort your budget
  2. Consider other expenses
  3. Factor in your deposit
  4. Start with the end in mind
  5. List what to look out for when viewing


1. Sort your budget

Going into a rental property search without a clear budget in mind is foolish.

Not only will it potentially use up valuable time looking at properties you can’t afford, it could also see you lose some that you can – particularly when competition is high.

Be clear on your budget for monthly rent from the get-go and don’t be tempted to stretch yourself.

And most importantly, get your finances in good shape before you start searching – it will save you time once you’re in a position to apply for a tenancy.


2. Consider other expenses

So, you’ve set your budget for monthly rent.

That’s a great starting point, but now you should factor in all the other costs that, as a first-time renter, you might not be familiar with.

While rent will eat up the biggest chunk of your monthly salary, there are other bills to factor in, too.

They include:

  • Council tax
  • Utility bills
  • Food
  • TV licence
  • Internet
  • Phone
  • Ground rent/service charge (for flat rentals)

All of these can make a big dent in your monthly pay packet, so be sure you can afford them once included with your monthly rent.


3. Factor in your deposit

Your biggest expense before you even receive the keys to your first rental property will almost certainly be your deposit.

Although deposits have now been capped at five weeks’ rent for most tenancies following the introduction of the Tenant Fee Ban last year, your deposit will still be a large amount of money.

So, firstly, make sure you have it saved before you start looking at rental properties.

Rules and regulations surrounding tenancy deposits now mean your money is far safer than it was 10-15 years ago.

Your landlord, or letting agent, must lodge your deposit with one of three protection schemes backed by the UK. If this is not done within 30 days, you could be entitled to compensation.


4. Start with the end in mind

Most tenancies in the UK are fixed for six months or 12 months in the first instance, although some run longer for two, three or four years.

Decide before you start your search how long you want to stay in your first rental property.

Your landlord will stipulate how long they want the initial tenancy agreement to last, although they will often be flexible if you are assessed to be a good tenant.

Once you are tied into a fixed term tenancy, it’s very difficult to leave early, so if you’re unsure of your future plans, perhaps try to negotiate a six-month agreement in the first instance.


5. List what to look out for when viewing

Viewing property is, and always should be, an exciting process.

It’s very easy to get caught up the emotion of viewing a first rental property, however, and that means you can miss vital issues that could cause problems further down the line.

While you’ll want your first rental home to feel like a home, make sure it functions properly for your needs, too.

Are the bedrooms big enough? Is the garden high maintenance? Is the heating system dated, meaning you could face high bills? Is there enough storage?

Write a list of things to look out for when viewing before you start and tick off each item as you go around the property.

And remember: It’s okay to ask questions, so ask plenty so you’re sure the property is right for you.

If you are searching for your first rental property, you can find our latest properties to rent here.