Top 5 Checks for First-Time Renters

Top 5 Checks for First-Time Renters

Embarking on your journey to find your first rental property can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. The excitement of having your own space also comes with the pressure of finding the perfect home. If you’re new to renting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the details, so here are the top 5 things to look for when searching for your first rental to ensure a smooth and stress-free process.

  1. Location

The closer you are to work or school, the less time and money you’ll spend commuting. Consider traffic conditions and the availability of public transport. Research crime rates and read local community reviews to ensure you’re comfortable with the area. Think about the amenities that matter to you, such as grocery stores, restaurants, parks, and fitness centres. Living near places you often visit will make your life more convenient and enjoyable. If you value peace and quiet, consider renting in a residential area rather than a busy city neighbourhood. Another quick tip would be to visit the property at various times of the day to gauge noise levels.

  1. Budget and Affordability

Start by establishing your rent-to-income ratio. A good general rule is that your rent shouldn’t be too much more than around 30% of your income. This does depend on where you choose to live, as places in major cities, like London, might have a ratio closer to 40-45% of your salary. Beyond rent, factor in other expenses like utilities, council tax, parking fees, and maintenance costs. Some rentals include utilities in the rent, while others don’t. Be prepared to pay a security deposit, usually equivalent to 4-5 weeks rent, and check for other upfront costs such as application fees.

  1. Types of Lease Terms

Lease terms typically span 12 months, although landlords may offer flexibility for shorter or longer durations. If your circumstances suggest a potential need for relocation sooner, it’s wise to explore options for flexible leasing arrangements. Be sure to clarify whether the lease automatically renews or requires notice for renewal or termination. Understanding the intricacies of subletting, extended guest stays, and the implications of early lease termination is crucial. Some landlords offer options like a buyout clause or a break clause, while others may impose penalties. In the UK, you might encounter a popular 2-year lease with a 12-month break clause. The break clause provision allows both parties to reassess their commitment midway through the lease. Details regarding termination procedures, including notice periods, will be outlined in this clause. Typically, standard tenancy agreements do not feature a break clause. Without one, you cannot end your tenancy early unless the landlord consents, and often incurs additional costs.

First time renters moving in

  1. Condition and Maintenance

Look out for structural issues, presence of mould, leaks, and overall cleanliness. If there are any issues, ensure that you stipulate in writing that these are to be sorted out before you move in. It is also important to ask when viewing the property if there are any hidden issues that you should know about. Ensure that all fixtures, plumbing, and electrical systems are in working order. Check the age and functionality of appliances like the stove, fridge, dishwasher, and washing machines. Older appliances may require more maintenance or lead to higher energy costs. Ensure there are no signs of infestations like rodents or insects and ask about the landlord’s pest control policies. Ask how quickly maintenance requests are handled, as a proactive and responsive landlord can improve your rental experience.

  1. Landlord Reputation and Relationship

Good landlords respond promptly to queries and address issues efficiently. It’s beneficial to check online reviews or ask current tenants about their experiences. Most landlords genuinely care about providing a safe and pleasant living environment for their tenants. Ensure that the landlord follows local rental laws, such as providing a safe living environment and handling deposits appropriately.

Signing tenancy agreements

Choosing your first rental is an exciting milestone. By carefully considering these five factors — location, budget, lease terms, property condition, and landlord reputation — you can make an informed decision that aligns with your lifestyle and needs. Take your time, understand your rights,  ask key questions, and visualise yourself living in the space. With the right approach, you’ll find a place you can proudly call your first home. Contact us at Complete, your dedicated lettings specialists, for help in finding your new home.


Below is a breakdown of the key terms related to the rental process.

Understanding Tenancy Agreements and Tenant Rights

It’s crucial to be well-versed in your rights as a tenant, as outlined in your tenancy agreement and by relevant laws. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Tenancy Agreements: These legally binding contracts detail the terms and conditions of your rental arrangement, safeguarding both you and your landlord by clearly defining your respective rights and responsibilities.
  • Tenant Rights: You have the right to a safe, habitable dwelling, fair treatment, and privacy within your home. Your landlord must also adhere to legal procedures, such as providing notice before entering the property.
  • Landlord-Tenant Acts: Landlord-tenant acts are laws that govern the rental relationship, ensuring fair practices and outlining obligations for both parties.
  • Eviction Notices: Eviction notices are formal warnings that inform tenants they must vacate the property by a specified date. They must follow legal procedures, giving tenants time to address the issue or seek legal advice.


For more information on your tenant rights, look at our blog post.

Key Questions to Ask When Viewing a Potential Rental Property

As you scout for your ideal rental, consider asking these vital questions:

  • How convenient is the commute to work or school, and what transportation options are available?
  • Are food shops, pharmacies, and essential services nearby, and what’s the crime rate in the neighbourhood?
  • Is the rent within my budget, and what utilities and additional fees are included in the total cost?
  • What is the lease duration, notice period for non-renewal or early termination, and are there restrictions on guests or subletting?
  • Are there any repairs or updates planned before move-in, and how are maintenance requests handled, including pest control and routine services?
  • How responsive is the landlord or property management to tenant inquiries, and is there a dedicated team for tenant relations?

These inquiries will help you assess the suitability of a property and ensure a smooth tenancy experience.


Section 21 is being removed, indicating that landlords can only evict tenants for valid reasons as defined by law. This change aims to empower tenants to contest unjust actions and excessive rent increases, while also prompting landlords to resolve issues. Landlords will now need to specify clear grounds for eviction, thereby enhancing renters’ security of tenure. Additionally, 2023 saw tenant rights updates include the introduction of standard periodic tenancies, extended notice periods for rent increases, and the enforcement of minimum housing standards.

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to maintain the property’s structure and exterior and ensure the installations for water, gas, electricity, sanitation, heating, and hot water are in repair and working properly.

Every home is assigned to a council tax valuation band by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), ranging from Band A to Band H. These bands are determined based on the value of your home as of April 1, 1991, with each band attracting a different council tax rate.

Local councils maintain a valuation list of all residential properties in their area, showing each property’s assigned band. You can find out your council tax band by visiting GOV.UK or checking your council tax bill.

Additionally, the valuation list can be accessed at your local council’s main office or possibly at your local library.

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