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What are the requirements for renting a house?

What are the requirements for renting a house?
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If you are looking to rent a house, understanding the requirements might help you save precious time and hard-earned money. This may also help make the rental process smoother and your rental experience more fulfilling.

To help make your experience stress-free, we’ve put together the requirements for renting a house and answers to some of your renting questions.

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Can anyone rent a house?

Yes. However, landlords may have a right to prevent disqualified persons from accessing a rental property. A disqualified person is an individual with no legal immigration status. Such a person doesn’t qualify for the right to rent.

People with unlimited rights to rent a house are those that:

  • Are British, EEA or Swiss nationals
  • Have the right to reside in the UK
  • Have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • Don’t have a time limit on their stay in the UK

What do you need to provide to rent a property?

Landlords may require you to provide various documents to be considered a trustworthy prospective tenant. You’ll need to prove your identity, character and employment. You may also be required to prove that you can pay the rent for the tenancy agreement period.

Proof of identity may include a valid passport or driving licence and your UK visa if you are from abroad. It may also include documents stating that you are allowed to rent in the UK.

If you are employed, a landlord may require a letter from your employer. If this is not possible, payslips for the last three to six months are a good alternative. Your employment contract or tax return for the most recent tax year can also act as proof of employment.

If you are self-employed, you might need to provide evidence of earnings for up to three years. You can provide bank statements. 

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What are the steps to renting a house?

There are three key steps to renting a house.

1. Contact the landlord or letting agency

Once you identify the house you want to rent, contact the landlord or letting agency. You may be required to provide proof of identity and show that you can pay rent. The landlord may also conduct a ‘right to rent’ check to verify that you can rent in England.

2. Find out the costs involved in renting the house

You can get this information from the landlord or letting agency. These costs may differ per landlord or letting agency, but expect to find permitted payments like:

  • Refundable holding and security deposits
  • Unpaid rent interest
  • Early termination fees
  • A month’s rent in advance

It might also be in your best interest to find out the banned permitted payments.

3. Sign the tenancy agreement

The landlord will draw up a tenancy agreement that runs for six to 12 months. Read it carefully before signing because it highlights the dos and don’ts during your stay. It also stipulates the rights and responsibilities of the landlord.

Once you have signed the tenancy agreement and paid the necessary permitted payments, you can move into the house.

What are the legal requirements for landlords?

In England, landlords should:

  • Maintain the structure of your rented house and keep it safe and free from health hazards
  • Give you an Energy Performance Certificate for your rented property
  • Ensure that all electrical and gas devices and equipment are installed correctly, inspected and maintained regularly
  • Check that you have the right to rent a property in England
  • Provide you with the How to Rent guide
  • Avoid discrimination based on name, colour, nationality, accent, ethnic or national origins, or the period you have been resident in the UK
  • Give a two-month notice of eviction
  • Protect your deposit in a government-approved scheme

If you are looking to rent a house in Scotland, check the mygov.scot website for the legal requirements for landlords. Most of them are similar to the requirements mentioned above, but you may notice a few differences. If you’re looking to rent a house in Northern Ireland, check out the nidirect.gov.uk website.

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