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First time renting guide

First time renting guide

There are many benefits to renting. It offers flexibility if you’re moving jobs or studying away from home and allows people to change their living arrangements quite quickly compared to the slower and more complex process of buying and selling property.

Whilst the process of renting can be simpler than buying, it can still be daunting if it’s your first time moving out of home or you’re relocating for work. To help make things simpler, our short guide for first time renters covers the key points that you need to take into account.

For extra guidance you can read our more detailed guides, as well as the government’s How to rent guide.


Before you start looking

Consider your needs

As well as affordability and location, think about your individual requirements.  What do you need from a property?  Some key questions:

  • What is your budget? Use our useful calculator to work out what you can afford.
  • Are you looking for a furnished or unfurnished property?
  • How many bedrooms do you need?
  • Do you need parking?
  • Would you like a garden?
  • Do you need to be near local amenities, like schools or transport links?
  • Are you looking for a short term or long term let?
  • Do you need a property which allows pets?

When are you looking to move? It helps to have a clear view of what your timescales are and any possible limitations, like current notice periods.

Renting privately or through a Lettings Agent

Private landlords letting their property directly are unregulated and not usually part of a professional body. Many tenants therefore prefer the reassurance of renting through a reputable and regulated lettings agent like Davis Tate. 

Davis Tate is a member of ARLA Propertymark, a regulatory body with a strict code of practice. By adhering to their high standards, we offer our customers peace of mind that your best interests are at the heart of how we work.

Lettings Agents also generally have a broader range of properties, making it easier to find something which suits your requirements, tastes and budget.   

At Davis Tate we always welcome the opportunity to talk to all our customers. You are welcome to drop in anytime for a coffee and a chat with our friendly team to talk through your needs and register with us.

Viewing properties


Make time to view all the properties that you're interested in. In the current market we are finding that some properties are reserved at the first viewing, so make sure you have your finances in place so you can secure the property quickly.

When you're at the viewing make sure you take the time to have a good look round. Check the water pressure, find out how the heating works, check the size of the fridge, etc. If you're viewing a property and the previous tenants are still living there, make sure you know what's included and what belongs to them. 

Know how the property is managed

A number of landlords will leave the day to day management to the estate agent so they will deal with any maintenance issues on your behalf. Other landlords will manage the property themselves. It's good to know how your property is managed so you're aware of who to contact if there's a problem. 

Preparing for tenancy

Getting your finances in place

Make sure you're financially prepared to make decisions quickly. Once you decide to rent the property you will need to pay your administration fee to start your application. 

Reservation Form
Complete and return the form with original photographic identification and proof of address (e.g. utility bill).

Referencing & Right to Rent
We will carry out a right to rent check internally and referencing will be carried out by an independent specialist referencing company.

Deposit and Tenancy Agreement
We’ll pull together the tenancy agreement - an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) which provides a standard set of rights and responsibilities for all parties. Other conditions may be added into the tenancy agreement, which will be signed by you and the landlord.

You’ll also need to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit before the tenancy starts. In some cases, we can offer a Zero Deposit protection product as an alternative.

Signing paperwork
At Davis Tate we use Docusign, an online platform for digitally signing documents without having to print them out. It is legally recognised and documents can be received, read and signed from any device connected to the internet, anywhere in the world.

During the tenancy

Moving in
Once the agreement has been signed and the standing order set up you may collect the keys on the day your tenancy commences. Davis Tate will provide you with the Energy Performance Certificate, the landlord's Gas Safety Certificate (if relevant), contact details for your property and any emergency contractors details.

Rent and repairs
The agreed rent must be paid on time or landlords may take court action to have tenants evicted.

Landlords are required by law to carry out repairs that keep the building in good condition, keep gas, electricity, heating and water equipment up to scratch and do other agreed work.

Landlords must have a valid gas safety certificate for every gas appliance and any furniture supplied must comply with fire resistance standards.

Tenants are responsible for looking after their home, which includes keeping it clean and simple tasks such as changing bulbs, fuses and batteries for smoke alarms.

When repairs are required, you should report these to the landlord or their agent as quickly as possible. Any delay in reporting which causes additional damage to the property could be the responsibility of the tenant.

For properties managed by Davis Tate, we carry out regular property visits to check that tenants are looking after the property and that all safety measures such as smoke alarms are working correctly. We’ll arrange these with you in advance and always try to give you plenty of notice.

At the end of the tenancy

Tenancy renewal
Around two months prior to the end of your fixed term Davis Tate will contact you to discuss your future plans. The process is similar to the start of the original tenancy and allows further commitment, planning and budgeting for another fixed term.

Notice and eviction
A tenancy runs until it is ended by either the tenant giving notice, or the landlord serving an eviction notice. As a tenant, the amount of notice you are required to give depends on the type of tenancy you have and your individual tenancy agreement. During the fixed term period of your tenancy, you can usually only end your tenancy early if the tenancy agreement has a break clause.

Providing there is no outstanding rent owed, and no cleaning or repairs are needed, your security deposit will be returned to you in full. If cleaning or repairs are required, these will be agreed between you and the landlord and the cost deducted from your deposit, with the balance returned to you.