Finding Private Rented Accommodation
Before you start looking
Find out about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. The links below will take you to information on what you should expect from your landlord and what they will expect from you.
- 'How to Rent' on the GOV.UK website
- 'Private Renting' on the Shelter website
- 'Your rights when you rent from a private landlord' on the Citizens Advice Bureau website
Decide where you want to live and the type and size of accommodation you need.
- the distance you are prepared to travel to work and the availability of public transport if you use it
- the proximity of schools, hospitals and other services that you use;
- the distance from family and friends
- how many bedrooms you need
- whether you want to live in a flat or a house
How much can you afford?
Private renting can be expensive. When working out what you can afford you should take account of expenses beyond rent such as:
- Council Tax
- water rates
- gas and electricity bills
- phone and internet charges
- household insurance
In shared properties some or all bills may be covered in the rent, check with the landlord what is included.
Most landlords will expect a deposit. Some landlords will agree to you paying a deposit in instalments if you ask. Make sure you get a receipt for any money you pay.
Help with your rent
If you are on a low income or benefits, you may be able to get some Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent. It is important to remember that your benefit entitlement may not cover the whole of your rent, so you must check before you accept or sign for a property, as you will be liable for any shortfall.
The actual amount of help you get will depend upon the number of bedrooms you need and the amount of income and capital that you have.
If you are a single person household under the age of 35 and on a low income or benefits, the maximum amount of rent that can be used in your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit calculation is based on the cost of renting a room in a shared house or flat unless you:
- live with an adult non-dependent; or
- are a foster carer; or
- get the severe disability premium in your benefit; or
- receive the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance or the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment; or
- need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn't normally live with you; or
- Are aged under 22 and have been in care; or
- live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation or a county council (in England); or
- are 25 or over and have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or; hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community; or
- are 25 or over and are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements.
Use our Benefits Calculator to see if you qualify for help with your rent
Help with your deposit and rent in advance- Rent Deposit Scheme
The Council may be able to help if you need housing, but do not have enough money to pay your own deposit and/or rent in advance. You will need to meet certain conditions to qualify for the Rent Deposit Scheme. More information can be found on our Rent Deposit Scheme page
Where to look for private rented accommodation
Estate agents / letting agents
These agencies act as go-betweens for landlords and those searching for accommodation. They advertise and maintain lists of properties available to rent. Some are online only, but the majority also have a chain of shops or are privately owned small businesses operating in a local area.
Reputable agents will be members of the National Association of Estate Agents or an accredited landlords scheme. If you would like to find names of registered estate agents, search the NAEA's website
Make sure you get written details of all the costs involved before you sign any paperwork or a tenancy agreement. It is unlawful for a lettings agency to make you pay registration fees before they find you accommodation. It is common to pay a 'holding fee', once a property is located and you wish to accept it, to prevent other applicants viewing the property. This fee should form part of the credit checks and administration charge so always ask before you proceed. This fee is usually non-refundable.
Renting directly from a landlord
Some landlords offer their properties direct to tenants to avoid the fees that are charged by an agency. Local newspapers are a good source for private landlords seeking tenants directly.
There are a number of accommodation websites that advertise places to rent. These include:
For Houses, flats and shared accommodation:
Other places to look
- Notice boards in supermarkets, newsagents and libraries
- Local papers