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?
Are you entitled to any help to pay your rent?
How much council tax will you have to pay? Remember, if you're under 18 or a student you don't have to pay
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?
Things to look out for when viewing
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?
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.
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.
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'.
Last updated: 7 April 2016
Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.