Over the last 20 years, the number of renters moving home has doubled. So it makes sense to see more people thinking about the process of renting an apartment. There’s a lot of nooks and crannies involved with moving a new home, and it can all get a bit complicated.
“How do I calculate my budget?” “Do I need to pay for anything upfront?” What documents do I need?” These are all common questions asked by renters, especially if you’re leaving the nest or moving for the first time in a long time and want to brush up on the process.
We’ve already covered the ultimate renting checklist, which will make sure you’ve got all the bases covered for the big move. Now we’re turning our attention to the process of moving, and everything you need to secure your new pad.
Step 1: Your finances
Your budget pretty much dictates where you’ll be able to move, which is why it’s important to calculate it before doing anything else. Make sure that you can comfortably afford the rent and will be able to make payments without any issues. It’s worth creating a budget planner so that you have a better overall view of your finances.
Work out the things that will likely need paying for, though these may differ depending on the type of property you’re renting. As a rule of thumb, most renters need to pay for the following items:
- Monthly rent
- Council tax
- Utility bills, such as water, electricity, gas and internet connection
- TV license and digital TV and streaming subscriptions
- Contents insurance
There are occasions where council tax and utility bills are included in the rent. However, it’s worth covering their costs when doing initial calculations just to be on the safe side.
Other items unrelated to your home that you should include in your monthly budget:
- Monthly phone bill
- Travel costs
- General meal costs
Once you’ve got a clearer idea of your price range, it’s time to start thinking about the type of place you want to move into.
Step 2: Type of property and rental
Modern-day renters have never had so much choice in the rental market. You can choose to rent from a private landlord or professional Build-to-rent company. There’s also the option of flat-sharing if you don’t want to rent an entire place.
The one you choose will ultimately come down to the location where you decide to live. The majority of property searches are postcode-led, so you’ll likely have a better idea of the type of property you want to call home after finding a location.
It’s also worth thinking about the rental contract at this stage. Do you want a long-term let or a short let? Longer lets typically last for a minimum of 12 months and feature a six-month break clause, while short-term lets tend to last less than six months and can be as short as one day.
Step 3: Your property search
Now it’s time to get to the good stuff as you start thinking about a location and your property requirements. You may already have an idea about which neighbourhood you want to live in, or perhaps you’re open to where your next adventure begins.
Check out our London and Manchester guides to find the perfect neighbourhood for your needs.
The more you know about what you want from a property and location, the easier it will be to find somewhere. We recommend thinking about your non-negotiables and negotiables. These can be things like access to outside space, having a lift in the building, being close travel links and local restaurants et cetera.
Local amenities to consider
- Transport links
- Restaurants, bars and cafes
- Medical facilities
- Places of worship
- Open spaces
- Schools and nurseries
Things you may want in your property
- Does it need to be furnished or unfurnished?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms
- Do you need outside space?
- Type of property: new build, purpose-built or period home
- Is it pet friendly?
Some of these elements will be non-negotiables (eg, having French windows might be a must-have. Who are we to judge?). Other aspects could be on your wishlist, but you’re willing to do without as your prioritise essential items.
Once you’ve decided on the key requirements you’re looking for in a home and location; it’s time to get searching. Movebubble is the place to start, as there are tens of thousands of properties you can browse in your search for a new home.
Step 4: Viewings
After you’ve found some places that you like, you’ll need to go and see them. During the viewing is when you get a genuine feel for the property, whether you attend physically or do a virtual viewing. Make sure you ask the person showing you around — whether the letting agent or the landlord — plenty of questions.
Some of these may include:
- If you can negotiate the price
- Whether or not you can decorate
- Are utilities and council tax included?
The aim is to come away from the viewing with more knowledge of the property and a feel for what it might be like to live in.
Step 6: Making an offer
The rental market moves at a fast pace, so you don’t want to dwell on whether or not to make an offer. If you like somewhere, the next stage involves getting a let agreed. Negotiating with the landlord usually takes place through a letting agent, who acts as an intermediary.
If your offer is accepted, you’ll need to pay a holding deposit (usually one week’s rent which is deducted from the first month’s rent). This will secure the property and stop other people making offers while you go through the referencing and contract stage.
Step 7: Referencing and contracts
Now that your offer has been accepted, you will be required to go through several checks that determine whether or not you’re suitable to rent your new home. These include:
- Right to Rent check
- Proof of ID
- Tenant references (and guarantor if needed)
- Credit checks
You’ll need a fair few documents for all of the above, including address history, bank statement details, and employment information. Referencing is a set of thorough professional checks that help to understand your financial and previous-living situations.
Assuming everything goes well with referencing, the next stage involves signing the contract. The majority of lets in the UK use an AST for the lease between the landlord and renter. The AST sets out the conditions of the rental and is your final chance to add any clauses you may feel are necessary to moving in. Many of them feature a six-month break clause, which means you can leave the property after six months if you give the appropriate notice period.
Step 8: Making payments
Once all the checks and contracts are signed, you’ll need to make the initial payments before moving in. You’ll need to pay the first month’s rent (minus the holding deposit), as well as the security deposit (up to five week’s rent), which acts as a guarantee in case there are any damages when you move out of the property.
Some landlords are part of the zero deposit scheme, so it’s worth checking before you move in. By law landlords are required to place all security deposits in a tenant deposit scheme and notify their renters with details of the scheme after 28 days after doing so.
Step 9: Preparing for the move
Now it’s time to get ready for the big day. You’ll want to think about things like arranging moving vans and the practicalities of moving your furniture — if you’re moving into an unfurnished property.
Other elements include giving notice to a previous landlord, setting up standing orders for rental payments, notifying the utility providers at your previous and new addresses, and setting up a redirection for your post.
On the move-in day, there will likely be a professional check-in, which will be conducted by the landlord or letting agent. This involves checking the condition of the property before you move in and noting the items that come with the home via an inventory.
Step 10: After the move
So you’ve picked up the keys and moved in. All that’s left to do is cover yourself with the relevant insurance. Contents insurance is the most common insurance type for renters and covers all of your personal items in the home.
You’ve now officially completed the steps for renting a flat. It’s time to relax while enjoying your new humble abode!
The above advice is designed to make sure that you ace the renting process and can move into your new home relatively stress-free. There are always some stressful elements along the way. But with these tips, you can minimise the hassle and look forward to starting a new chapter in your home.