09 July

Things you should know before renting a home

Reading Time: 4 minutes
 Three people moving boxes and furniture into an apartment block

Renting a home is exciting. Whether it’s your first or next home, or moving to a new area. It helps if you do things right from the start. We know there’s a lot to think about, so we’re here to get you started with our guide to renting.

Search icon

Before you start looking

Preparation is key. Some forward-thinking will help you get the property that’s right for you.

How much can you afford every month?

Typically, around a third of take-home pay is what people can afford for rent. But this does depend on what other outgoings you have too. Make a list of all your bills and expenses and leave nothing out so you have a clear idea of how much is left over. You’ll need to include things like rent, gas, electricity, phone, internet, TV licence and council tax in your sums.

What is most important to you?

Think about the things that matter to you when you’re choosing a new place. This will help you to make the right decision about property location and type.

  • Do you need somewhere that allows pets?
  • Do you need parking? How close does it need to be?
  • Do you need somewhere that’s furnished or unfurnished?
  • How may bedrooms do you need? Do you need a garage or extra storage areas?
Two women in a lounge sitting on a white sofa


One exciting part of renting an unfurnished home, is furnishing it to reflect your own personality. Don’t forget you may need to include buying furniture or accessories in your budget.

IKEA is a great place to discover affordable furniture and home furnishing inspiration for all sizes of wallets and homes for ‘a better everyday life at home’.

Ikano Bank* are the proud provider of IKEA Finance, offering affordable interest free credit (0% APR representative) from £99 to £15,000 and the option to spread your repayments over 3 months to 4 years.

Learn more about IKEA Finance

Ways to rent a property

There are generally two ways to rent a property, directly from a landlord or through a letting agent.

Direct from a landlord

Look for a landlord who’s a member of an accreditation scheme. These provide training and support to help landlords fulfil their legal and ethical responsibilities. Your local council should be able to help you finding schemes in your area.

Make sure you have the landlord’s name and an address where they’ll accept service of notices, in writing. Landlords are obliged to give you this information and the rent is not ‘lawfully due’ until they do so.

If you’re renting a flat, ask whether the landlord is the owner or leaseholder. If the landlord is not the property owner and they claim to be a tenant, a family member or a friend – be very cautious, as it could be unlawful sub-letting.

Through a letting agent

Since 2014, it’s a legal requirement that lettings agents and property managers in England join a government approved redress scheme. This makes sure that any unresolved disputes can be dealt with.

If they receive money from you such as rent payments, you should also check they are a member of a client money protection scheme. By law, this information should also be clearly visible to you at the agent’s premises and on their website.

Reputable agents are often accredited through a professional body such as ARLA Propertymark, GPP, Safeagent, RICS or UKALA.

Whoever you are renting your property from you should always be aware of scams, do your homework on the landlord or agent and check their credentials.

What about fees?

There are clear government guidelines on what fees a landlord or letting agent can or cannot charge.


  • Agreed rental payment.
  • A refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than 5 weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is less than £50,000, or 6 weeks’ rent if £50,000 or above.
  • A refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than 1 week’s rent.
  • Payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant.
  • Payments capped at £50 (or reasonably incurred costs, if higher) for changes to the tenancy contract (this is called a variation, assignment or novation).
  • Payments for utilities like water and energy, communication services, TV licence and tax.
  • A default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the housing, where required under a tenancy agreement.

All other fees including the following are not allowed

  • Fees for viewing the property.
  • Any charge for setting up the tenancy or contracts.
  • ‘Checkout’ charge for leaving the property when the tenancy ends.
  • Any charges for anything that’s done by someone other than the landlord or tenant but that the landlord must pay for. For example, employing third parties for cleaning, maintenance or administration.

Don't forget about insurance

Once you’ve moved in, remember to keep your valued possessions safe with adequate contents insurance. This is often overlooked by people who rent, but it can be a costly mistake.

These are just some of the important things to consider when you embark on your renting journey to help make everything run smoothly and settle you into your new home.

To get all the latest detailed guidance and information go to GOV.UK.

Information correct at time of writing. Please check with your local council or GOV.UK before signing any agreements. 
*Ikano Bank AB (publ) UK branch Registered Office: Waterfront House, Waterfront Plaza, Station Street, Nottingham, NG2 3DQ. Registered in England and Wales No. BR016253 VAT Registration No. 265321711.

Ikano Bank

Ikano Life