Finding privately rented accommodation

Renting from a private landlord is one housing option and may give you some choice as to where you live.

Looking for a place to rent?

There are various ways to find a place to rent, whether you are a single person or if you have a family:

  • “To Let” adverts in shop windows, newspapers and notice boards 

  • word of mouth from relatives, friends or work colleagues

  • online searches of property websites

  • local lettings and estate agents.       

If you are single and urgently in need of somewhere to stay Elmbridge Rentstart may be able to help you find a place to rent.

Keep an eye on your budget

Decide on the size of home you need and plan a budget for what you can afford to spend every week or month on rent.

If you are in receipt of benefits, or on a low income, you may be able to get some financial help through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.  If you do rent from a private landlord, then the Local Housing Allowance is used to work out how much Housing Benefit you might get. 

Local Housing Allowance is based on the rents being paid by people with the same number of bedrooms as the property where you live, or the number of rooms you and your household needs. You can check the LHA rates for you, based on the area you live in.

Once you find a property

Most landlords expect a rent deposit, that can be the equivalent of 6 weeks’ rent, although it can vary.  In addition, the landlord will normally request that you pay the first month’s rent in advance.

Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and your deposit can be registered with:

Lettings agents and estate agents may also charge administration fees for their services.  So, before you pay any money out and agree to anything, find out exactly what the fees are. You also need to make sure you have the funds to cover these costs.

If you agree to rent a property from a private landlord, you will normally receive a written tenancy agreement outlining the terms and conditions of your tenancy.  You should ask for a copy of any tenancy agreement and read it very carefully before you sign it. If you are unsure about anything, get further advice before you agree and sign.

Further guidance and advice

There are a number of guides to help you understand your responsibilities and rights as a tenant: 

More information and guidance is also available from Shelter and Citizens Advice.

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