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How to rent from a private landlord or letting agent

Where to look for properties

You could find a place to rent by:

  • renting direct from a landlord

  • using a letting agent

  • searching online

Some people rent as a property guardian. This can be cheaper but can mean you have fewer rights.

Landlords and agents carry out checks on tenants who want to rent from them.

Renting direct from a landlord

An advantage of renting direct is you can talk to the landlord yourself. You do not have to rely on going through a letting agent.

This can make it easier to agree a tenancy and raise or explain any issues.

Private landlords are not regulated, but in some areas they need a licence.

Ask your council if the landlord needs a licence.

Where to look

Private landlords who rent directly sometimes advertise properties on:

  • social media or online forums

  • local noticeboards or newspapers

You can also post your own ads in these places. Say how many rooms you need and how much rent you can pay.

Using a letting agent

The standards of letting agents varies.

Take these steps to protect yourself:

  • check the agent is a member of a redress scheme

  • choose an agent with a good reputation if you can

  • search forums and social media to see what other people say about them

Letting agent redress schemes look into customer complaints about agents. All agents must be a member of a redress scheme.

Look out online for reports of letting agents who encourage rent bidding wars, or who say they can help landlords to evict tenants for people who will pay more.

Banned letting agent fees

Most letting agents fees are banned. Find out what to do if a letting agent tries to charge you banned fees.

Never pay any money without seeing the property. Try to take someone with you when you're viewing.

Online searches

Landlords and letting agents post places for rent on sites like:

  • Rightmove

  • Zoopla

  • Spareroom

If you're asked for a holding deposit, do not pay it unless you've viewed the property in person and are serious about taking the tenancy.

Social media

Landlords and agents advertise in facebook and whatsapp groups.

Make sure you check that ads are legitimate before you pay any money. Check the landlord out online and ask for a viewing in person.

Do not fall for online rental scams.

Fraudsters sometimes advertise properties that do not exist or have already been rented. They ask for an upfront fee and then disappear with your money.

Do not be pressured into sending or transferring money without viewing the property.

If you get benefits

Letting agents must not discriminate if you claim benefits. Use our guide and letter templates if you are refused a viewing or tenancy of a home you can afford.

Your local council may have:

  • details of rent deposit or bond schemes in the area

  • lists of local landlords who rent to people on benefits

Find out how to find landlords who accept benefits.

Last updated: 15 June 2023

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