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What Do You Need to Rent a House in the UK?

What Do You Need to Rent a House in the UK?

There could be a variety of reasons you’re choosing to rent a house in the UK. Perhaps you’ve found a new job and need to relocate or you’re starting a university course in a fresh city.

Whatever the reason you’ve decided that it’s best for you to rent a house for the foreseeable future, good or bad, there are a few essential things you need to have to begin renting a house. 

In short, you need the following things to rent a house in the UK: 

  1. Deposit 
  2. Guarantor 
  3. References 
  4. Appropriate Legal Documents 


It is not always essential for a rental contract to include a deposit. However, it can be common and there are a few specifics you should be aware of when renting a property that requires a deposit.

Firstly, you may be required to pay a holding fee once you have decided you wish to rent a property and reserve it. A holding fee cannot be more than one week’s rent and can either be repaid or used to go towards deposit or first months rent. 

In Wales, your deposit is typically the equivalent of one months rent, however there may be circumstances which means a landlord or agent could request a higher deposit, for example if you have a pet.

Gone are the days where you hand over some cash to your landlord as a deposit and hope they give it back to you as you move out. As of April 2007 your landlord must register your deposit with a government approach deposit protection scheme. In England or Wales your deposits can be registered with Deposit Protection Services, MyDeposits or Tenancy Deposit Scheme. There are different schemes available for Scotland and Northern Ireland. 


A guarantor is a person who is liable for your rent should you fail to pay it. Guarantors are typically vetted the same way as you are, through credit checks or other forms of financial verification. 

You might be required to provide a guarantor depending on your situation. It is very common for students to be required to provide a guarantor as their income typically comes from student loans. 

Your landlord is free to ask for a guarantor in the tenancy agreement. It must be clear and in writing the terms and conditions of what your guarantor is liable for. In some cases, the guarantor agreement does extend into other conditions under the tenancy agreement, such as damage to the property. 

Guarantors tend to be favoured to be from the country you’re renting in. So if you’re renting in the UK, your landlord will likely prefer a UK guarantor. Having a guarantor in the same country as you’re renting makes legal action easier should it be required. At times, a substitute for a guarantor is more rent upfront. 


There are two reasons that you will be asked to provide references when renting a property. 

The first reason you may be asked to provide a rental reference is to prove you can afford to rent the property. Proving you are able to afford a property can be verified through your employer. An employer should be able to assure that you earn enough money to pay your rent.

Secondly, a reference may be required to prove that you will be a good tenant. This is either from your current or previous landlord(s) to ensure that you take good care of the property and haven’t caused any out of order issues while being a tenant for them. 

Sometimes you might not be able to get a reference from a previous landlord for various reasons. This isn’t the end of the world and you may still be able to rent. Providing a bank statement showing timely rental payments can aid you. Also a character reference from an employer or someone that knows you well can be enough for some landlords. 

Appropriate Legal Documents

Essential legal documents include a tenancy agreement/occupation contract, inventory, meter readings, contact details and sometimes a code of practice. 

A tenancy agreement should be written and signed by all parties involved. Ensure you read it carefully before you sign. If you’re unhappy with some terms within the agreement you’re welcome to ask for revisions or walk away from it without forfeiting your holding deposit. 

Inventory can be done before you move in and is a record of the state of the house before moving in. You yourself should take photos as an extra safe guard. The purpose of the inventory is to have a record of how the property was before you moved in and direct liability of any damage.

Taking meter readings on the day you move in records where the meter was at that time so that you don’t pay the previous tenants utility bills. 

You are legally entitled to know the name and address of your landlord and a telephone number should be provided incase of an emergency. 

Legislation differs in both England and Wales about what is required. More information is available on the .gov websites or speak to an agent.