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How to find suitable rented accommodation

Updated: 17 Aug 2017
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How close will you be to friends, family and work?
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Before you start looking for accommodation you should have an idea of the kind of accommodation you need - the size, type and location.

Location

You should consider the location with regard to where you work, bus and train travel, schools and shops in the area, how close you will be to friends, family, medical care, availability of secure parking and social life.

Size of property

You need to decide what size of property you require for your needs and what you can afford. The appropriate size for the properties for which Local Housing Allowance is being claimed is based on the following allocation of bedrooms, with one bedroom being required for each grouping, counting each person once only:
  • a couple who live together
  • a person aged 16 or over
  • two children of the same sex (any age up until 16)
  • two children under 10
  • a single child (a ‘child’ is someone under 16)

Where to find properties to rent

The most common places to find private rented accommodation include:
  • ‘accommodation to let’ columns in local newspapers
  • property websites
  • classified ad websites
  • advertisements in shop windows or notice boards
  • estate agents
  • students should check with their university and on the Student Pad website
  • ‘to let’ boards outside properties
It is often the case that rented property is not advertised so ask around and tell friends or work colleagues that you are looking for accommodation.

Landlords & agents

We've listed a few landlords and agents to get you started.
  • See landlords and agents in the South East area

Estate agents' fees

If you find a home through an estate agent you may be charged fees for their services. Before you pay any money find out exactly what the fees are for and get advice from Housing Rights Service, the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. You should also ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement and read it carefully if you are unsure about any parts of the agreement get further advice before you sign it.

Viewing properties

  • Gather as much information as you can before you view properties so you don't waste time looking at a property that won’t be of interest to you or may be out of your rent range.
  • When going to view a property, always bring a friend or family member with you. It can be useful to get another person's opinion and it is safer than going alone.
  • Try to view a number of properties in your chosen area - this will give you an idea of what is available and what kind of properties are in your rent range.
  • If you are not familiar with the location, go early and check out the area for shops, bus routes and local facilities.
  • Try to avoid viewing at night, as it may be difficult to see faults or disrepair.
  • Make a list of questions that you want to ask the landlord.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

If you are considering living in a property with at least two other people who are not members of your family, the property is known as a  House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
HMOs generally fall within the following categories:
  • shared houses
  • houses converted to bed sits
  • houses let in lodgings
  • hostels, B&B, guest houses or hotels
  • residential homes
  • houses or buildings converted to flats, flatlets or maisonettes
In order to ensure the health, safety and well being of the occupants, we have set standards to be applied to HMO properties.
If you live in a HMO and you feel the property doesn’t meet the required standards, you should contact  your local HMO Unit on 03448 920 900 and speak to your district council's environmental health department.