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
Privately rented properties are often let fairly quickly so if you find somewhere you might be interested in:
- ring the number given in the advert straight away
- ask as much as possible about the property to decide whether it is suitable
- if you’re still interested, 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 supply a deposit (but don’t carry large amounts of cash and always get a receipt).
What to look for
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. Always ask whether you have to pay rent over the summer holidays if the property is empty.
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 each place will cost each week (or month)
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. The amount you have to spend usually depends on the size, location and condition of the property. Take a look at out 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.
If you find a home through a letting agent, you may have to pay letting agent fees. Letting agents must display the fees they charge and you shouldn’t have to pay any fees until the agency has found a place for you. Some agents don’t charge tenants at all, so it may be worth shopping around. Most letting fees are to be banned in Wales from the 1st September 2019.
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.