7 things to know when renting a dwelling for the first time

7 things to know when renting a dwelling for the first time
19th June 2024

As a contract-holder, there are a number of things to know and do before you move ahead with renting a dwelling. While landlords and agents have various legal obligations and a duty of care to look after you, it is also your responsibility to ensure you are well informed and in the best possible position to take up an occupation contract.

So, if you have never rented a dwelling before, here are 7 things to know:

  1. Begin by reading the Rent Smart Wales guide

This is a comprehensive guide that outlines your rights and responsibilities. It includes:

  • Renting from a landlord or letting agent
  • Things to check when looking for a rented home
  • What you should do and expect when living in a rented dwelling
  • What happens at the end of a tenancy
  • Where to find help and what you can do if things go wrong

You can access it at any time on the Rent Smart website.



  1. Make sure you rent from a professional, reputable landlord or agent

If you find a dwelling that’s being advertised and let by the landlord directly, make sure you’re happy to proceed with them. Ask if they are a member of a landlord association, such as the NRLA.

If you are renting through an agent, the best ones will be members of one of the self-regulating industry bodies, the biggest being Propertymark. Both the ombudsman and professional body logos should be clearly displayed in the agent’s branch and online.


  1. It’s worth checking the legal basics are in place before you even view a dwelling

Before the occupation contract begins, it’s worth asking the landlord or agent if these are in place - gas safety, Energy Performance Certificate, electrical inspection within the last five years -  before going to view the dwelling. It’s also worth asking which scheme they will be using to protect your deposit. Checking these should help reassure you that they are reputable and letting legally.


  1. Be on time for viewings

From the moment you enquire about a dwelling, the landlord or agent will be assessing your suitability as a contract-holder, so create a good impression by arriving on time. And if you can’t make an appointment or are running late, call whomever you’re meeting to let them know.


  1. Have paperwork ready for reference checks

Your landlord or their agent will carry out referencing, credit checks and an affordability assessment, so make sure you’re prepared with the relevant contact/account information to mitigate any unnecessary delays with referencing.

Note that you cannot be charged for any of these checks, and you must give your written permission for a credit check to be carried out.

  1. Make sure you will be able to afford at least 6 months’ rent when you accept an occupation-contract

The vast majority of landlords will ask you to sign a minimum fixed-term tenancy of 6 months (or 12 months, often with a 6-month break clause). This means you are legally committed to paying the rent for that minimum period, so it’s important to be confident you will be able to afford to make those payments for the term of the occupation contract.

  1. Check how much notice you will have to give if you want to leave

Legally, you cannot leave within a fixed term. So it is your responsibility to understand what notice you’ll have to give if you want to leave, and it’s important to check whether there’s a ‘notice clause’ in the occupation contract.

To make sure you rent a legally and safely let dwelling that you’ll be happy to call home, just get in touch with our local experts.

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