Top tips to checking your finances before renting

With the cost of living increasing and budgets are becoming even tighter here are our top tips for looking at your finances before embarking on renting a property.

  • Your rent is likely to be your biggest outgoing. When deciding how much you can afford, draw up a detailed budget of all your other likely outgoings and then add a contingency fund before setting your rental price limit.
  • Make sure you understand whether you will be paying rent on a weekly or monthly basis. This seems obvious but it is not always clear in some advertising.
  • Find out whether or not bills are included – gas, electricity and water. If you are responsible for paying your own bills, make sure you have budgeted enough and allowed for the further increases we are all expected. Ask the existing tenants what their average bills have been – but again, prepare yourself for further increases in energy prices, so set your budget higher than what they have been paying.
  • Unless you are exempt from paying council tax, you will need to budget for this as well.
  • Don’t forget to account for internet and phone charges, as well as contents insurance and a possible TV licence.
  • Remember, you are likely to have to pay a deposit on your new rental home – and also pay some rent in advance. Ensure you are clear about how much this will be. The landlord or letting agent legally has to put your deposit into a government protection scheme to protect it in case of dispute when you leave.
  • Be very clear about whether the property will be furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished. Have a good look round and add up any extra moving in costs you might have if you do need your own furniture. You may be able to buy some of this more cheaply if you look at second-hand options.
  • Check your credit rating – you are going to have to prove you can afford the rent and you are likely to be credit checked. You can do this free on any number of reputable websites. It is much better to know in advance if there is likely to be a problem.
  • Gather your financial evidence together. You will need to show proof of your income. Ask the landlord or letting agent what they will need to see. If you have any doubts as to whether the evidence is strong enough, discuss this with the landlord or agent. It may be possible for someone to act as your guarantor, in which case you will need to find out what they will be required to produce. Students often now need to have guarantors before renting privately.