Viewing a property
Always view a property before agreeing to take on a tenancy.
The information on this page should make it easier for you to know what to look for and what questions to ask.
You can also print these checklists and take them with you to any viewing :
How to follow up an advert
Private places often let quickly. If you find somewhere you like:
- ring the landlord or letting agent as soon as you can
- ask as much as possible about the property to decide whether it is suitable
- ask the landlord if they are registered and have a licence under the Rent Smart Wales scheme. If you are dealing with a letting agent, ask the agent if they have a licence
- arrange to visit the accommodation as soon as possible – before you agree to anything
- get another person to go with you to view the property and let someone else know where you are going
- have details of referees or references ready
- be prepared to pay a deposit (but don’t carry large amounts of cash and always get a receipt) and be sure you view the property before handing over any money.
Print off and take with you our ‘Staying safe renting a private property : 10 Top Tips‘.
If the landlord or letting agent refuses to rent the property to you, or tries to charge you a higher rent than others in the property, they might be discriminating against you. Have a look at this Open Doors project YouTube video to find out more about your rights.
What to look for when going to a viewing
As a safety precaution, get another person to go with you to view the property and let someone else know where you’re going.
- it is secure
- the heating, lighting and plumbing works
- any furniture is in a good state of repair
- if other people live there, try to meet them to see if you will get on with them.
Sometimes private accommodation is available straight away. You might have to be prepared to move in (or start paying the rent) quickly. However you might be able to get the landlord to agree to hold the accommodation for a short period. They might charge you a ‘holding deposit’ to do this, but it can only be the equivalent of 1 weeks worth of rent. For more information on holding deposits, see our page on letting fees.
What each place will cost
You should find out as much as you can about the costs of the accommodation before you agree to move in or sign anything.
This can include:
- how much the rent is
- whether the rent includes bills
- how much the council tax is
- how much the bills are (in winter and in summer)
- whether the bills are shared with other people.
Renting privately can be very expensive. Take a look at our money advice to help with your budgeting.
How much you have to pay in advance
It is usual to have to pay a deposit and rent in advance, before or at the same time as you sign the tenancy agreement. Landlords normally ask for one month’s rent in advance and one month’s deposit, although it can be more than this, especially if the property is of high value.
The landlord or letting agent may also ask you to pay letting fees (or ‘admin fees’). For example, to prepare the tenancy agreement or to hold a property for you whilst they check out any references (a ‘holding deposit’). Many letting fees have been banned in Wales and it is an offence for a landlord or agent to try and charge them so always get advice before paying anything over. For more advice on which fees are banned, click here.
Some landlords and agencies do not accept personal cheques as deposits or rent in advance. You might have to pay in cash or pay by standing order from your bank account. If you need to use cash get another person to go with you and always get a written receipt.
Landlords often ask potential tenants to provide references to prove that you are reliable and will be able to afford the rent. This usually means providing bank details and/or a letter from your employer confirming employment. Sometimes landlords request character references or references from former landlords. If you are taking on a tenancy for the first time, a landlord might accept a reference from a parent or guardian.
You may be asked to provide a guarantor for the rent. This is more common for young people. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay the rent if you do not.
What kind of tenancy agreement you would have
When you have found a suitable place and paid the necessary charges, you will usually be given a tenancy agreement to sign before you move in. This states the rights and responsibilities that you and your landlord will have during the tenancy. You should check it carefully before you sign it, and get advice if you are unsure about anything it says.
Private tenants usually have fewer rights then people who rent from councils or housing associations, but all tenants have certain rights under the law, even if they don’t have a written agreement. Your landlord can’t take away these basic rights, regardless of what your tenancy agreement says.
Remember – even if the landlord doesn’t give you a written tenancy agreement, you still have legal rights.
Most new private tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies but there are other types of tenancy in the private sector. If you’re not sure what type of tenancy you have, get further advice from Shelter Cymru.