Finding a property
When you’re looking to rent a home from a private landlord there are several places you can look. Places to try include
- Websites such as Rightmove, Gumtree and Zoopla;
- Estate agents who have a section that deals with private lettings and properties;
- Letting agents who manage properties for private landlords;
- Lettings boards in the area where you want to live;
- Adverts in local newspapers or shop windows;
- Asking friends and family who rent from a private landlord;
- Noticeboards at work, college or university.
The Private Rented Service Newcastle could also help as we advertises houses for rent and provide general advice on renting in the private sector.
Estate Agents and Letting
Estate agents and letting agents usually have a large selection of properties and can offer a range of helpful services to help you find a home that is right for you. Some letting agents will charge you a fee which can be quite expensive. They should tell you about their fees straight away and these must be displayed in their offices and on their website. If you can’t find details of how much they charge make sure you ask before using any of their services as they can charge you as soon as you accept a service from them.
Once you pay a fee to a letting agent they will only refund it if the agreement was incorrect so always make sure you want a property before handing over any money. Letting agents fees are not the same as the deposit you may need to pay for the house. Deposits should be kept separately and dealt with in a different way.
Viewing a property
Always view a property before signing a Tenancy Agreement. Viewing a house can be exciting and it can be easy to overlook something or forget to ask important questions.
You should try to see lots of properties in the area where you want to live so you can see what is available before making a decision. You should also think about:
- Making a list of things you are looking for in a home to take with you. For example do you need a downstairs toilet or off street parking;
- Taking a friend or family member with you. It’s good to get a second opinion and safer than going on your own;
- Try to view the property in daylight as it’s easier to see faults or things that need repairing;
- Try to go early to check out the location, local shops, bus routes and other facilities;
- Take a list of questions that you want to ask;
If you aren’t sure if the property is what you’re looking for take some time to think about it
Furnished or unfurnished
Before you start looking you should decide if you want to rent a furnished or an unfurnished property.
Check with the landlord what is included as there is no standard definition of furnished and unfurnished for example:
Unfurnished properties are usually slightly cheaper. Although no furniture is provided carpets and curtains are often supplied.
Part furnished properties will generally include carpets and curtains and some white goods such as fridge or cooker. This can be a good option if you already have some furniture.
Furnished properties do not always have the same furniture. Generally it will included carpets, curtains, beds and wardrobes, table and chairs and a cooker and fridge.
You can ask a landlord to provide more furniture or to remove furniture you don’t need but they don’t have to do this. If any changes are made make sure details are included in the Tenancy Agreement.
You should also ask for a list of furniture, known as an inventory, to be attached to your Tenancy Agreement. This should include details of each item and its condition and should be signed by you and the landlord to prevent disagreements later. You can ask for photos to be included if you think it would help.
Remember that if someone is living in the property when you view it some of the furniture may belong to them so make sure to check.
Shared accommodation and Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
Moving into a home of your own can be quite expensive and if your budget is tight you might want to consider sharing. This could be as:
- A lodger who rents a room from a landlord;
- A tenant who shares a property with the landlord;
- One of a number of tenants in a house of multiple occupation (HMO)
There are different types of HMO, but it usually refers to properties that are let to groups such as students or young professionals. If you decide to live in an HMO you may have to share an entrance, living room, kitchen, bathroom and other facilities.
HMOs have different safety regulations to other types of properties. Sometimes the landlord of an HMO will need to have a licence for the property. If the property has:
- Three or more storeys; and
- Five or more unrelated people share the property
It is likely to be a licensable HMO and you should ask the landlord to give you a copy of the licence.
If you decide to move into an HMO you may also have a different type of Tenancy Agreement and different legal rights.
You can get more information on HMOs from the Council
What about Selective Licensing?
Selective licensing gives the Council powers to license private landlords who have properties in certain areas. It doesn’t matter how big the property is or how many people live there the landlord must maintain the property to a specific standard and provide the Council with information about how it is managed.
These licences last for 5 years and the landlord may have to apply for a license for a property you already live in.
If you want to know about selective licensing areas or to find out if a property you live in or are planning to live in is subject to a license you should contact the Council.
If the property is subject to a license your landlord must have a valid application in place before starting the tenancy. If your landlord fails to comply with these rules it can affect their ability to end the tenancy later.