7 things to know when renting a property for the first time

7 things to know when renting a property for the first time
19th June 2024

As a tenant, there are a number of things to know and do before you move ahead with renting a property. While landlords and agents have various legal obligations and a duty of care to look after you, it is also your responsibility to ensure you are well informed and in the best possible position to take up a tenancy.

So, if you have never rented a property before, here are 7 things to know:

  1. Begin by reading the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide

This is a comprehensive guide that outlines your rights and responsibilities, with checklists and information to help you understand the renting process. It includes:

  • Key questions to ask before renting
  • Things to check when looking for a rented home
  • What you should do and expect when living in a rented home
  • What happens at the end of a tenancy
  • Where to find help and what you can do if things go wrong

Your landlord is obliged to provide you with the latest version of the guide before you move in (in England), but you can access it at any time on the GOV.UK website.



  1. Make sure you rent from a professional, reputable landlord or agent

Landlords are not currently regulated or required to undergo training, so if you find a property that’s being advertised and let by the landlord directly, make sure you’re happy to proceed with them. Ask if they are a member of a landlord association, such as the NRLA, and if you are renting in London, you can check the Rogue Landlord and Agent database to see whether they have ever been fined or prosecuted.

If you are renting through an agent, you should know that they must belong to either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme, giving you a route to redress if you have any problems with them. The best agents will also be members of one of the self-regulating industry bodies, the biggest being Propertymark. Both the ombudsman and professional body logos should be clearly displayed in the agent’s branch and online.


  1. It’s worth checking the legal basics are in place before you even view a property

Before the tenancy begins, you must be given copies of the current Gas Safety certificate and Energy Performance Certificate, and the property must have had a full electrical inspection within the last five years, so it’s worth asking the landlord or agent if these are in place before going to view the property. It’s also worth asking which scheme they will be using to protect your deposit. Checking these should help reassure you that they are reputable and letting legally.


  1. Be on time for viewings

From the moment you enquire about a property, the landlord or agent will be assessing your suitability as a tenant, so create a good impression by arriving on time. And if you can’t make an appointment or are running late, call whomever you’re meeting to let them know.


  1. Have paperwork ready for reference checks

Your landlord or their agent will carry out referencing, credit checks and an affordability assessment, so make sure you’re prepared with the relevant contact/account information to mitigate any unnecessary delays with referencing.

Note that you cannot be charged for any of these checks, and you must give your written permission for a credit check to be carried out.


  1. Make sure you will be able to afford at least 6 months’ rent when you accept a tenancy

The vast majority of landlords will ask you to sign a minimum fixed-term tenancy of 6 months (or 12 months, often with a 6-month break clause). This means you are legally committed to paying the rent for that minimum period, so it’s important to be confident you will be able to afford to make those payments for the term of the tenancy.


  1. Check how much notice you will have to give if you want to leave

Legally, you cannot leave within a fixed term. So it is your responsibility to understand what notice you’ll have to give if you want to leave, and it’s important to check whether there’s a ‘notice clause’ in the tenancy agreement.


To make sure you rent a legally and safely let property that you’ll be happy to call home, just get in touch with our local experts.

Looking for advice?

If you're looking to let or sell your property, we can help. Get in touch with your local branch or book in for a property valuation.

Contact Us

Got a question, general enquiry or something else?

Speak to your local expert Value your Property
Property Valuation

Find out how much your
home is worth. Instantly.

Portico knows the London property market.


Sign in


Free Valuation