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First Time Renting

Top Tips For First Time Renters in the UK

February 2022

Renting your first home is an exciting prospect! However, the whole process can get stressful especially if you start reading up on all the things you need to consider! To ease the pressure a little, Repit prepared a short overview of important points to note when renting in the UK for the first time. 

If you are a foreigner coming to the UK for the first time, the rules for renting are vastly the same as they are for residents. 

1. Check whether you have the right to rent in England

Landlords in England must check the right to rent of any prospective tenant or otherwise they could be liable for a civil penalty. 

You have the right to rent if any of the following apply:

  • you're a British or Irish citizen
  • you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • you have refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme
  • you have permission to be in the UK, for example, on a work or student visa
  • the Home Office has granted you a time limited right to rent

So if you’re a British or Irish national, all you have to do is show your passport. In any other case, you have to show a document which proves your right to rent. You can find a very useful list of acceptable documents here. 

Moreover, you can prove your right to rent online on the government website if you have a settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or have a biometric residence card permit. 

If you’re coming to England from abroad, your right to rent check is also there to prove your right to live in the UK at the same time. 

You do not need to prove your right to rent if you’re renting in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

2. Determine your budget

Generally, the average price of a rent in England is currently £755 (and £1,425 in London). If you are looking to rent in London, read our guide on affordable areas here. 

It is not recommended for your monthly rent to exceed 35% of your take-home salary. Moreover, many agents and landlords require prospective tenants to disclose financial information in order to assess whether they can afford to rent there. If your salary is too low, sometimes you are allowed to disclose savings as well. 

If you have insufficient earnings and no savings to support your rent, you may need a guarantor. If that’s the case, your guarantor will have to go through the referencing process as well as you as the tenant. 

Another option for first-time renters (which especially applies to first-time renters from outside of the UK) is to pay the first 6 months’ rent upfront. It is an option for people who can prove they have sufficient savings but cannot prove a stable income, for example because they’re self-employed, don’t have a credit history in the UK or employment history in the UK.

Don’t forget any ongoing costs that you will face monthly in addition to your rent — such as energy bills (if not included in the rent), council tax (unless you are exempt), internet, TV licence, water. 

Top Tip: In the UK, the price of rent is usually advertised as price per week rather than price per month.

If you want to learn more about different costs associated with renting, read our guide on rental costs here. 

When considering your budget, don’t forget about your lifestyle! Renting a very nice (and usually expensive) flat is all fun until you realise you have to cut down on actual fun and leisure activities!

Aleksandra Pitula
Photo by Naomi Hebert.

3. Get ready for the referencing checks 

The current rental market is very fast-paced. Unfortunately, it means you have to act fast when you find a flat that suits you. 

Usually required are: 

  • Documents to prove your right to rent in England/right to rent code under the EU settlement scheme;
  • Recent utility bill or bank statement to prove your current address;
  • Contact details of your current landlord so the new landlord can obtain references;
  • Contact details of someone within your company for the new landlord to confirm your pay;
  • Bank statements proving your income and savings. 

If it’s not possible for you to provide a renting history (because you’re a first time renter) or submit a recent utility bill with a UK address on it (because you’re a first time renter in the UK) — worry not! 

Ultimately, all you landlord is concerned about is that you will pay rent and that you won’t become a liability in any way. So out of those above documents, the most important are documents proving your right to rent in England and your financial information. 

4. Finding your new home

Services such as Zoopla, RightMove or SpareRoom are there for you to browse for your new home. You can set the location, number of rooms, price etc. You can also contact a local estate agent directly and they will be able to show you around whatever you might find interesting. 

Once you find houses that you’re interested in, arrange viewings! It is quite handy to keep a spreadsheet with the address of the property, name and phone number of the agency, monthly rent, and the date of the viewing. It will come in very handy when you’re arranging multiple viewings within a short space of time! 

And if the organisational side of finding your perfect flat gives you a headache — Repit is here to provide the relief! We will sort all the searches, arrange viewings and negotiate with agents — and you’ll have a dashboard to track all of your property options in one place. Sign up today!

Once you view a house and end up liking it, you need to submit an application (otherwise known as ‘making an offer’). The application usually consists of questions about your personal details, right to rent, amount of rent you are prepared to pay, length of the tenancy and a short cover letter for the landlord to get to know you a bit better. Ask about the application at the viewing to show your interest!

If your application gets chosen, it is the time to provide all the referencing information you have prepared before. Don’t worry! It is a relatively fast and pain-free process as long as you submit everything on time. And if you’re unsure about documents you need to provide or how to prove your finances (especially if you’re moving from abroad), the team of experts at Repit is there to assist you throughout the process. Sign up today and let us help you get that dream house!

Once you’ve passed your referencing checks, you will be asked to sign the tenancy agreement and pay your first month’s rent as well as your deposit. 

Read more about the deposits in our guide here.

Read more about what to look out for in tenancy agreements here. 

After that — it’s time to move in!

Need more help?

It may seem as though there is a lot to take in, but that’s what Repit is here for! 

Repit offers assistance packages for property search and negotiations. What does it mean in practice? Repit tracks properties on Zoopla, RightMove, OpenRent and other sites, even on Facebook, to select flats and offer you only those that meet your preferences. Repit helps with tenancy agreement review — and we are here to answer any questions you may have about the rental process in the UK!  

Photo by Bench Accounting.

Credits

Aleksandra Pitula
Social Media Manager

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