What are the first steps to renting a property?

Before you start your search, make sure you know what your budget is. How much can you realistically afford to pay in rent, once you factor in all your current outgoings e.g. electricity and heating cost?

As soon as you've identified an amount you can afford in rent, you'll be able to target your search more effectively. Bear in mind that you'll also need to budget for an initial security deposit. This will be the same as your first months rent.

What does referencing involve?

Before letting you move in, your landlord will want to carry out a few checks. This is called referencing, and it helps the landlord to determine how reliable you are, when it comes to paying the rent. You'll be asked to provide details of your current employer, your salary, your previous address and previous Landlord details (if you have this), and your bank details.

What is a guarantor, and do I need one?

A guarantor is an individual (usually a parent or guardian) who agrees to 'guarantee' to pay your rent if you're unable to. They'll need to be a UK resident and a UK homeowner. You will need a guarantor for all student rentals and for longer term lets if you are unable to provide a previous rental reference.

What happens to my deposit?

Your landlord is legally required to hold your deposit in a government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. They'll provide you with de- tails of the scheme, which should outline exactly where your money is held.

What is a Tenancy Agreement?

The tenancy agreement is the contract, signed by both yourself and the landlord. It includes all the terms and conditions of the tenancy, and by signing this document, you agree to abide by them. You will be responsible to pay the full amount of rent for the period stated even if you decide to leave the property early. All tenancies are fixed term.

What is a property inspection and how often will it occur?

It's standard practice for landlords or letting agents to carry out routine visits on the property. This is to check there are no problems that need addressing. They'll also want to make sure that the property is being maintained to the appropriate standard. This will be carried out twice per year ( or more frequently if there are issues).

What happens if I can't pay my rent?

As a tenant, it's your responsibility to ensure your rent is paid on time. However, sometimes things can go wrong. For example, you may lose your job or become unwell. If you experience this, it's important to let your landlord and letting agent know as soon as possible.

They may be able to offer a temporary solution, such as rescheduling your rental payments. Remember that you can also take out insurance, which will cover your rent if the worst should happen.