First-time renters' guide

Published: 26/05/2024

Renting a property for the first time can seem daunting, but our quick guide will leave you feeling like a seasoned tenant in no time.

Rent will be your largest monthly cost, so it is vital to work out how much you can afford before you start your search. A good rule of thumb is to allocate no more than 30–45% of your monthly income. Make sure you pay attention to whether the rental rate being advertised is per week or per month. If it is per week, multiply it by 52 and then divide by 12 to find out the monthly cost.

Security Deposit
This is normally five weeks' rent. Your landlord can make deductions from your security deposit to cover rent arrears or damage to the property when you move out. Your landlord or letting agent is required by law to place your deposit in one of three government-backed protection schemes and provide you with the details. They must also let you know how much they propose to deduct from your deposit within 10 days of the end of your tenancy. If you disagree with this amount, then the deposit protection schemes provide a resolution service. This can be used to settle any disputes, provided that you and your landlord agree to use it and accept the decision made.

Holding Deposit
Some letting agents and landlords charge a holding deposit. The maximum amount that they are legally allowed to charge is equivalent to one week’s rent and is held while your references are being checked. This will then either be returned to you or deducted from your first month’s rent. The landlord or letting agent is legally allowed to keep your holding deposit if you change your mind about renting the property, give false or misleading information, or fail to pass a ‘right to rent’ check.
In advance
Rent is usually paid in advance to cover the upcoming month so you will need to pay the first month’s rent before you move in.
Unless your rental agreement states otherwise you will be responsible for paying
Council Tax
Utility bills (gas, water and electric)
Internet and phone bills
Contents insurance
You may also need to pay additional service charges for things like gardening or cleaning of communal areas.
When going on a viewing, always ask the current tenants about the cost of their bills so you have an idea of how much yours will be.

You can rent a property fully furnished, partly furnished or unfurnished. A furnished property may cost slightly more but it is usually cheaper than having to buy all of your own furniture. However, an unfurnished property gives you more opportunity to put your own stamp on your home.

Any other costs
You are liable to pay for any damage that you cause to the property. There may also be fees for adding new tenants to the contract during the tenancy. You may be charged to have a new set of keys cut if you lose yours, and your landlord or letting agent is legally allowed to charge you interest on your rent if you are two or more weeks behind. The interest charged can be no more than 3% above the Bank Rate per day.

Your landlord or letting agent will want to make sure you can afford the rent. They will therefore require that you provide them with references, usually from your previous landlord and current employer. You will also need to provide proof of income and address, usually in the form of payslips and bills. It is also normal for them to run a credit check on you so it is always wise to take some time to check your credit score through sites like Experian to make sure that there are no issues that will be flagged up.
If you are looking to rent a property in Wimbledon please give us a call on 0208 542 3232 or send us an email to to be added to our earlybird list so that you can be one of the first to find out about our latest available properties.