Finding a home that you can afford to rent doesn't have to mean finding social housing. There are more properties available in the private rented sector.
A private landlord is someone who owns one or more properties that they rent out to tenants.
There are many advantages to renting privately:
- There are no waiting lists, so you'll be able to move in quickly
- You can choose exactly where you want to live
- There are many different types of property available, from one-bedroom studio flats to houses big enough for large families
- The properties will usually be well decorated and carpeted; this is often not the case with social housing.
- The properties often come with a fridge, freezer and washing machine
- If you're on a low income, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit which will cover some or all of your rent
The GOV.UK website has a useful guide for people looking to rent privately.
Finding a private rented home
Why do I need to consider private rented property?
The demand for social housing far outweighs the supply. If you need to find a new home quickly, the private rented sector is your best option. Private rented homes tend to be ready to move into straight away and are plentiful. Failure to look for a private let may mean the Council gives you less help if you become homeless.
Where to search
Letting agents will match up people looking for a home to rent with landlords that have homes to let. Talk to them directly about your needs. Many landlords do not use agents; instead, they advertise their accommodation in local newspapers, shop windows and on notice boards in supermarkets, community centres, cafes, fee websites or post offices. Agents and Landlords advertise properties mostly online. Below are some useful websites:
Talk to your Housing Options Officer for details about private rented properties in the area you want.
Advertise that you need a place to rent
You could advertise that you're looking for a place to rent. In your advert, describe the type of place you want, where you'd like to live and how much rent you can afford. Use free websites such as spareroom.co.uk or gumtree.com and social media sites like Facebook Marketplace. You can also advertise locally in shops, community centres or other notice boards. Ask your friends, family or the people you work with if they know anyone who is renting out a room or a flat.
Be aware of scams
Rental fraud happens when would-be tenants are tricked into paying an upfront fee to rent a property. In reality, the property does not exist, has already been rented out, or has been rented to multiple victims at the same time. The victim loses the upfront fee they have paid and is not able to rent the property they thought they had secured with the payment.
How to present yourself
It is important to respond to advertisements as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment. Demand for housing is high, so vacancies can be taken up the same day they are advertised.
Landlords and letting agents want a tenant that will pay the rent and look after the property. You will need to reassure them that you will be able to do this.
Be organised and professional - getting accepted as a tenant is a bit like applying for a job, so be polite, turn up on time for any viewings or meetings, dress tidily, and check any emails you send for spelling mistakes.
Show that you are respectful - when you arrive to view the property, offer to take off your shoes. It's a small thing but it helps to show you care and helps to keep the landlord's carpets clean. Ask questions that show what a responsible person you are e.g. what day does the recycling get collected?
Have your paperwork ready
ID is particularly important as the landlord or agent will have to check you have the right to rent. Make sure to bring it to the viewing in a folder.