Whether it’s your first time renting in the UK or you’re just looking to refresh your memory, this article is perfect for you if you want to create a checklist of important practical considerations to keep in mind when renting.
This article will focus and explain the types of tenancies in the UK, the costs other than rent, the meaning of a break clause, how to approach a notice period on your rental flat and what the key dates for renting are.
How much can you afford to pay per month for your flat?
When looking for a flat, it is handy to consider how much you are paying now and where that leaves you with your budget. It is recommended that a monthly rent should not exceed 35% of your monthly income.
However, the tricky part is that when searching for flats to rent, the ads usually only provide the price of rent.
Rent + Electricity and Gas + Water + Internet + TV licence + Council Tax = Cost of Renting / Month
Renting is not just about the price of rent but you also must consider the monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas and water), internet, TV licence and council tax.
The most convenient service to compare the prices for the utilities and internet is USwitch. It is as simple as creating an account, providing a postcode and then browsing the best offer for utilities.
We also recommend reading up opinions on various energy and internet providers to ensure you are with a reliable company!
It is also worth enquiring with your potential landlord as some offer bills included in your rent – but read the fine print as sometimes they might have a cap on energy usage and you will be required to pay any outstanding costs.
We recommend enquiring with your agent about the type of heating in your flat - whether it’s gas and electric or just electric. With the energy prices soaring at the moment, knowing the type of heating will help you budget the bills better.
On a separate note, it is generally not recommended to switch energy providers when the prices are so high. Therefore, enquire which provider supplies electricity and gas to your flat to get an idea of the costs.
There are a lot of internet providers available on the market so things to consider include:
- Coverage in your area, which you can check on each provider’s website by inserting your postcode
- Type of contract, which can be monthly rolling or fixed for 6+ months
- Speed of the internet, which you should decide based on your needs - do you need a fast internet for work, streaming, gaming?
- Package deals — some internet providers include landline as well as internet.
Once you choose a provider, be mindful of installation times as it can take up to two weeks for some providers to come round to your flat to install it. Some providers, like NowTV, send a router and you can install it yourself. However, this can also take a few days to arrive.
Repit recommends allowing at least 5 business days for the internet to be installed, so you should order it as soon as you sign the lease to make sure you have it when you move in!
The cost of the TV licence in the UK is £159 a year. The law says that you need a TV licence in your household if you watch or record programmes on TV on any channel, stream programmes live on an online TV service such as ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV or download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.
Remember — failure to pay your TV licence can result in a fine of £1,000 plus any legal costs!
Council tax is the money you pay to your local council for the services they provide — such as road and lights maintenance, bins collection or street cleaning.
The amount of council tax depends on the type of building you live in and the area. If you know the postcode and the house/flat number, you can calculate your council tax on the government’s website.
Your council tax bill is usually split into 10 monthly payments and you can always contact your local council who can arrange for the amount to be spread across 12 months instead.
Luckily, some people are ‘disregarded’ for council tax purposes and these include:
- under 18 years old
- on certain apprenticeships schemes
- 18 or 19 years old and in full-time education
- a full-time student at college or university
- under 25 years old and get funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency
- a student nurse
- a foreign language assistant registered with the British Council
- severely mentally impaired
- a live-in carer for someone who is not your partner, spouse, or child under 18
- a diplomat
However, even if you fall into the ‘disregarded’ category, you still need to apply to your local council for them to officially grant the exemption.
Another good thing is that if you live either on your own or are the only non-exempt person in your household, you can get a discount of 25%.
If you do not pay your council tax, you will lose the right to pay it in instalments, the council is likely to take legal action and as a result you’ll end up having to pay the whole outstanding bill at once.
Last but not least, before moving into your new flat you’ll also need to pay a lump sum of maximum 5 weeks’ rent – this is known as a security deposit.
To find out more about different types of deposits and how the deposit protection scheme works, read our article.
Need more help?
Renting is more complex than it can seem at first and there are a lot of things to look out for.
One important practical consideration is to calculate the actual monthly cost of renting by adding rent, bills, internet, TV licence and council tax to your monthly spending.
If renting still seems like black magic — Repit is here for you to sort all your viewing and negotiate the legalities for you.