Get advice about asking all the right questions about the cost, tenancy details and the condition of the property you want to rent.
Can you afford the rent?
How much is your rent per month and when do you have to pay it? Can you afford this?
Find out more about getting organised with money.
Check if you have to pay a deposit and rent in advance.
Ask about other bills such as gas, electricity, water and council tax, how much they're likely to be and what is and isn't included in your rent.
Check if the landlord accepts housing benefit if this applies to you.
Understand the tenancy agreement
How long is your tenancy agreement for? Many are fixed-term contracts, often six or 12 months.
Check if you will be able to renew your tenancy when a fixed-term contract ends.
Ask if there is a break clause which allows you or the landlord to end the tenancy early.
Check the exterior of the property
Make sure the outside of the property is in good condition. Look for loose roof tiles, leaking pipes and gutters and crumbling brickwork.
If you see any problems, check that they will be repaired before you move in.
Ask how to report repairs when they are needed
Inspect the inside
Are there any signs of dampness or condensation, such as mould on the walls or carpets?
Check communal areas
Are there are any communal areas such as a garden, entrance hall or stairwell? Ask who is responsible for them and if there are any extra costs.
Some properties have a service charge for the upkeep of communal areas.
Focus on heating
The biggest part of your energy bill is heating your home and water.
Check what sort of heating the property uses and ask the landlord how much is the usual energy bill.
Check furniture and appliances
Ask if any furniture and appliances are provided (for example white goods such as fridge, freezer and washing machine) and if they are in a usable condition. Check if your landlord will repair or replace them if they go wrong.
If you have furniture that you need to bring in, make sure the property is big enough for it.
Use an inventory to record the condition of everything that comes with the property.
Check the wiring and appliances are safe
Your landlord should have electrical appliances checked every 12 months. Usually the electrician puts a sticker on the plug of each appliance saying when they were last checked. Keep your eye out for any fittings that are loose from the wall.
Check that there is a working smoke alarm on each floor.
Ask about gas safety
All gas appliances such as boilers, cookers and heaters must be checked every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Ask to see record of the latest safety check. Your landlord must give you a certificate of gas safety before you move in.
Is the place right for you?
Have you decided that this is really the place for you? Do you think you'll get on with the landlord?
If you take on the property you need to feel you can approach the landlord if anything goes wrong or needs repairing.
Find out how to contact your landlord including in case of emergencies.
Brenda's Story: 'When looking round a property, use your nose'
Brenda, a lawyer and lecturer, lives with her two daughters and granddaughter in Manchester. The cottage she rented had severe damp and mould problems. The smell was the first indication that the property needed repairs. Read Brenda's full story
Last updated 07 Feb 2017 | © Shelter