Skip to main content

Things to consider when looking for a home to rent

There are several things to consider when looking for a place to rent.

You can download a checklist of things to consider, and use it to make notes on any properties you look at.

What will the cost be?

  • How much is the rent?
  • Will you have to pay a deposit?
  • If you are on benefits or a low income, will the landlord accept local housing allowance (housing benefit)?
  • How much council tax will you have to pay? Remember, if you're under 18 or a student you don't have to pay council tax, and if you live alone you can claim a single person discount of 25 per cent.

Location and transport

  • Location - how far away is the flat from your place of work or study, or your family and friends? 
  • Amenities - how far away is the nearest supermarket, pub, takeaway, a leisure centre, cinema or library?
  • Transport - is the property on a bus route or near a station? When's the last bus home?
  • Parking - is there enough parking? Will your car be safe?
  • Safety - is the area well lit? If you are viewing the property during daylight, try to imagine whether you'd feel safe travelling home at night.
  • Health - what's the local GP's surgery like? Is there an NHS dental practice you can join? 
  • Children - if you have children, are there suitable nurseries and schools in the area? Will they be able to get a place? Use the directory at Scottish Schools Online to find out.

Things to look out for when viewing

General condition

  • Is there any sign of damp, such as mould on the walls or carpets?
  • Is the property big enough for all your belongings?
  • Is it gas or electric heating and what is the average monthly bill? Where is the meter?
  • Make sure all the lights work.
  • Is there hot and cold running water? Try flushing the loo and turning on the shower to check they work.

Furniture and fittings

  • How much furniture is provided? What condition is the furniture in?
  • Is there enough furniture for your use?
  • Does the furniture comply with safety regulations? Items such as sofas and mattresses should have labels on them to show they pass the regulations. You can see examples of these labels at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform furniture guide.
  • Is equipment such as kitchen utensils, a washing machine or vacuum cleaner provided?
  • Are the curtains and carpets in a reasonable condition?
  • What about the kitchen - are the cooking facilities up to scratch? Is there a working fridge and cooker, ample storage? How clean is the kitchen?

Safety

  • Is the wiring safe? Ask the landlord, and double check to see if any fittings, plugs, etc are loose from the wall.
  • Are any electrical appliances safe? Your landlord should get them checked every 12 months. Usually the electrician will put a sticker on the plug of each appliance saying when they were last checked.
  • Are there working smoke alarms, a fire blanket in the kitchen and fire extinguishers throughout the house? Is there another escape route besides the front door?
  • Can your landlord show you a certificate of gas safety provided by an Gas Safe Register engineer within the last 12 months?
  • How secure are the locks on both the doors and windows? Does the door have a bolt or chain? Is there a spyhole so you can see who's outside? If the property is a flat, does it have an entry phone system?

Energy Performance Certificate 

Any landlord who puts a property up for rent must obtain a certificate giving the property an energy rating and must show it to you free of charge. Also, in any advert for the property the landlord will need to state the EPC rating. This will help you work out how high your fuel bills are likely to be. If the landlord doesn't produce a energy performance certificate, you can report them to the council and they may be liable for a fine of up to £1000.

Outside the property

  • Is there a back yard or garden? If there is a garden, who is responsible for its upkeep?
  • How is rubbish collected? Is there a wheelie bin or bin house?
  • What is the outside structure of the building like? Point out to the landlord if you see that any gutters are broken. The landlord is legally responsible for the upkeep of the fabric of the property.

Accessibility

If you, anyone else in your household, or anyone who regularly visits you is disabled, you'll need to make sure the property will meet their needs too. For example, do you need a property on the ground floor? Do you need a parking space nearby? If not, it may be possible to get a designated disabled parking space assigned to you by the council - check the council's website to find out more.

Download our accessibility checklist (also available in large print) to check whether a property will suit you.

The landlord

Is the landlord registered?

Before you agree to move into a new property, you should always check that the landlord is registered with the council. Most private landlords should be registered with the council and when a landlord advertises their property, they have to include their registration number in all adverts.

Is the landlord a member of an accreditation scheme?

If possible, try to rent from a landlord who's a member of Landlord Accreditation Scotland or an accreditation scheme run by the council or, if you're a student, by your university or college. In order to join an accreditation scheme, your landlord has to show that their letting policies and their properties meet the standards required by the scheme. For example, they will need to prove that they fulfil all their legal duties, that they don't discriminate against certain groups of people and that they care about their tenants - in short, that they are a 'good landlord'.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

The important points

  • When working out the costs of renting, include rent, deposit and council tax.
  • It is unlawful for letting agents to ask you to pay premiums for registering with them, or credit checks for example. You can challenge them or ask for the fees back afterwards, up to five years after the premium was charged
  • Location is important - consider how close you will be to your nearest shops, if there's enough parking and if the area feels safe.
  • Private landlords need to supply an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating in any advertising, which can help you know if the property will be expensive to heat.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

Was this page helpful?

This feedback tool can't offer advice. If you still need help, please call our free housing helpline on 0808 800 4444

Would you recommend Shelter Scotland's website to a friend, colleague or family member?
(0 - not at all likely, 10 - extremely likely)

Your feedback is being submitted

Success! Thank you for your feedback.

If you'd like to hear more about our work at Shelter Scotland, you can sign up to receive updates on our campaigns page.

Sorry, there was a problem sending your feedback to us. Please try again or contact us via the website if this error persists.

The fight isn't over - support us this summer

far from fixed campaign logo
It’s a disgrace that people are still homeless in Scotland today. Join our campaign
It’s a disgrace that people are still homeless in Scotland today.
Volunteer
Find out more about volunteering with Shelter Scotland
Volunteer with Shelter Scotland
Have you had a bad housing experience? Tell us about your story.
Share your story of a bad housing experience
£