Finding private rented accommodation

This page looks at various ways to find accommodation to rent, and includes information on letting agencies, deciphering property to let ads and safety when flat-hunting.

Where should I start?

  • Ask around: your family, friends or work colleagues may know of someone with a room to let or a flatshare in need of a new tenant.

  • Adverts: Check out ads in shop windows, and on noticeboards in supermarkets, community centres and university/college. You can put a notice up yourself saying that you're looking for accommodation. Look at ads in local papers and magazines. See below for our guide to deciphering rental ads.

  • Online: there are lots of websites listing rental properties. For starters, try:

  • EasyRoommate - enter your details and this site will provide you with a list of flatshares in your area

  • Lettingweb - rental properties across the UK, plus register to receive email and SMS alerts when a new property is added that meets your requirements

  • Letting in Scotland - lists rental properties across the country.

  • Property Squirrel - rental properties in Edinburgh, Glasgow and across the UK

  • Your local council: some council advice centres may have lists of accommodation available to rent.

  • If you're a student: your Student Accommodation Office should have lists of reputable landlords who rent to students. You can also try the Accommodation for Students website.

The private residential tenancy

On 1 December 2017, a new type of tenancy came into force, called the private residential tenancy, this replaced assured and short assured tenancy agreements for all new tenancies.

The Right to Rent

From 1 February 2016 landlords who have rental properties in England and Wales will have to check that tenants or lodgers can legally rent their property. These regulations only apply to properties in England and Wales, and will not apply to tenants or lodgers who rent property in Scotland.

What about letting agencies?

Letting agencies are an increasingly popular way of finding accommodation.

Find out more about letting agencies.

Rental ad jargon - what does it all mean?

When you look at classified advertisements for rental properties you could find yourself confused by all the abbreviations. But don't worry, if you don't know your GCH from your GCSEs, your PCM from PMT, use our handy jargon guide to decipher it for you:

  • GCH = gas central heating

  • WM = white meter for electricity

  • WC = water closet (toilet)

  • N/S = no smoking

  • No DSS = usually prefixed by the word 'sorry', this means that the landlord doesn't want tenants who will be claiming housing benefit

  • DG = double glazing

  • EPC = Energy Performance Certificate, this must also be included in adverts for private rented housing and should give you an idea of how expensive the property might be to heat

  • LR = Landlord Registration

  • CT = council tax

  • PCM = per calendar month

  • PW = per week

  • lge = large

  • sm = small

  • rm = room

Landlord registration

Landlord registration is how councils monitor private landlords and ensure that they are suitable people to let out property. Before any person or agency is registered, the council will have to check that the applicant is a fit and proper person to let property.

Landlords have to include their registration number in all adverts. To check if a landlord is registered you can view the private landlords database.

Flat hunting safety guidelines

Remember, when you go to view potential flats to rent, always follow these safety guidelines:

  • Don't go on your own. Always take someone with you when you visit a flat.

  • Always let other people know where you're going, who you're meeting and when you should be back.

  • Arrange to call someone afterwards to let them know you're safe.

  • If you arrange to meet someone over the internet to view a property, be doubly cautious - people on the internet aren't necessarily who they say they are.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 5 September 2018

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England