Renting your first property can be a daunting experience, as there are lots of things to consider and organise for your tenancy to run smoothly. To help you, we have put together a guide for renting - answering many of our tenants' FAQs.

How do I make sure I am notified of new properties?

You can register on portals like Zoopla and OnTheMarket, where you'll receive notification of new property listings that suit your requirements. But Compass also offers you the chance to stay ahead of the game and to be one of the first to know about new properties with our mailing list. The rental market often moves quickly, meaning new homes don't often stay available for long, so making sure you're in regular contact with your local lettings agents is really important.

What is ARLA Propertymark and is it important?

ARLA stands for Association of Residential Letting Agents and is the governing body of the lettings industry. ARLA Propertymark agents are held accountable to a strict code of conduct and service level, so by working with an agent who follows this you ensure that your rental is handled by the book and your best interests are looked after. It also means you have additional protection - if you were not happy with the service you received from your agent, you could complain to ARLA Propertymark who would assist you in resolving the issue(s).

How many properties should I view?

If you are only looking at property in one area, I would say no more than 5 if you want to avoid looking at the same type of thing repeatedly. If you are more flexible on the area and/or your budget, then you may want to book a few more to ensure you’ve seen a good representation of each area and price range.

What references are required to rent a property?

The most important reference you will need to provide is one from your employer verifying that your earnings are as you have stated. If you have previously lived in a rented property, a reference from your previous landlord is required. You may also be asked to provide personal references - these can be from a friend or colleague who can vouch that you are who you say you are and that they believe you will be a good tenant.

Am I a suitable tenant?

A landlord’s ideal tenant is someone who pays their rent on time and doesn’t cause any damage to the property. That is why we run through background checks on all prospective tenants. These checks highlight issues which may be of concern to landlords including bad credit scores, previous rental arrears, debt, a criminal record or even if you’ve filed bankruptcy.

What if I am not a suitable tenant?

Do not panic if you have got a bad credit rating or previous debt, you may still be able to become a tenant by using a guarantor. A guarantor is a family member or friend, who firstly is a homeowner and is prepared to sign a contract stating that if you fail to pay your rent, they will be liable for it. This offers landlords added peace of mind that rent will be paid on time and in full.

Furnished or unfurnished?

Again, this one is down to personal preference and whether you already have your own furniture. Be careful not to fall into the trap of wrongly assuming that taking an unfurnished property will cost less to rent. If money is your sole motivation for choosing unfurnished, make sure you check with your agent that this is the most cost-effective option. Whichever option you go for, make sure it is crystal clear what state the home and furniture were in when you moved in and who is responsible for replacing or repairing it.

Will I get my deposit back?

Yes, you are entitled to receive your deposit back when you leave the property - providing it is left in the same condition as when you moved in. If the property needs to be professionally cleaned or there are any damages or repairs, the landlord or managing agent is likely to deduct the cost for rectifying these issues from your deposit. If there are any disputes over the deductions from the deposit, these can be raised with either the letting agent or the deposit holding company who can act as a mediator until the dispute is resolved.

What repairs & maintenance issues am I responsible for?

As a tenant, you are responsible for looking after internal decorations, furniture, and equipment. There is an expectation for wear and tear to the property and landlords will not be able to deduct this from your deposit so long as it’s reasonable. It is your duty as a tenant to report any maintenance or repair issues to the landlord in a reasonable amount of time to prevent the problem from worsening. Minor maintenance works such as changing light fittings and checking smoke alarms work all fall within your responsibilities as a tenant.

What repairs & maintenance issues is my landlord responsible for?

Landlords are responsible for the properties structure and exterior, as well as the sanitation fittings such as sinks, drains, and pipes. Heating and hot water are also the responsibility of the landlord as are gas appliances and fittings.

What happens when I want to leave?

You will need to review your contract to understand if you are on a fixed-term tenancy or a periodic one. If you are on a fixed-term agreement you need to check if there is a break clause and what the terms are, otherwise you will have to continue paying rent until the end of the fixed term. If you are on a periodic tenancy then your tenancy rolls on each time you make a payment so you will need to give notice equivalent to the gaps between payment e.g. if you pay monthly your notice is one month. The notice should be given in writing and you should always keep a copy for your own records. Include in the letter the property’s address, the date you will be leaving, and how the landlord can contact you if they need to.

For further information, please review the current government guidance and guidelines for tenants.