Securing Your Perfect Home

Almost there! This is the exciting part where you present your best offer to the landlord and keep your fingers crossed! Keeping organised and prepared for this step will make it so much easier for both you and the landlord that will be considering your offer amongst others. 

How do I submit an offer?

The estate agent that showed you around the property will provide you with a template form to fill in and you will need to provide the main information about you and your family with regards to securing the home. We have also created some offer templates for you to use depending on your current situation:

Remember to mention any requirements that are important to you, for example, any refurbishments or prior cleaning of the property. Also, it’s important to put your best offer in as others may also be submitting their interest in the home so you want to make sure that your offer stands out to the landlord. 

Documents required

Keeping organised beforehand with the relevant paperwork will make it easier for you to submit a good quality offer as quickly as possible. Here are the imortant documents that you will need to prepare:

1) Proof of Identity

The landlord must check whether the applicant is legally allowed to rent in the UK. By law, applicants must be aged 18 or over and have the right to rent (either by way of British citizenship or through a relevant visa). You may be asked for: 

  • Passport or driving licence 
  • Proof of current address e.g. a utility bill 
  • Visa / associated documents to prove right to live in the UK (if coming from abroad)

2)  Proof of Income or Guarantor:

Eligibility to live in the UK is not sufficient to rent a property. Landlords also will ask for evidence that you are able to meet the monthly rent of the property, normally through having annual earnings of X30 the monthly rent. For example, if your rent is £900 per month, your annual income must be at least £27,000. If you are sharing with more than one person, it is your combined income that would have to meet this requirement. Documentation to prove this could include:  

  • Recent pay slips 
  • A letter from your employer confirming job title, salary and length of employment  
  • Current employment contract 
  • Tax return for the most recent tax year 
  • Open banking access to their reference checks provider

If you make the majority (25x+) but not quite the monthly rent, agents or landlords might also ask you to demonstrate that you hold the difference in cash funds. Note that if you have a guarantor, they will need to meet the criteria above and sign a document confirming that they are willing to be legally liable for the rent in case you are unable to pay. Often landlords will prefer guarantors who are in the UK (i.e. fall under UK jurisdiction) and  also homeowners. There are companies out there that would be willing to act as a guarantor for a fee. These offer a very interesting proposition in that they normally won’t charge you unless your offer has been accepted, but not every landlord is comfortable working with them because companies are subject to different laws than individuals.

Note that landlords can be skittish about people who have just started a job and have not passed their probationary period. If at all possible, we would recommend pausing your search until this period has passed – unless you’re in a position to offer a guarantor, some evidence of funds or the ability to pay up front.

If you are self-employed, it is likely you will be subject to other checks. This could include: 

  • Three years’ worth of income evidence 
  • Bank statements 
  • Company details (if you work for your own company) 
  • Invoice records 

Being self-employed and searching for property in the UK can be tough, especially if your business is new. We would recommend securing a guarantor if you can.

What is a rent guarantor and do I need one?

A rent guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent for you if you don’t pay it. They may also be responsible for any damages that you may have caused to the property if you don’t take responsibility for it.

Your guarantor may be a parent or close relative and it is essential that they live in the UK. They will also be subject to checks for example, they may have to have an annual income of above X30 the monthly rent of your property. 

You will need a UK guarantor if:

  • you are a student and do not work
  • your income/joint income is below X30 the monthly rent 
  • you are on benefits

What is a holding deposit?

A holding deposit is 1 weeks rent which is paid at the offer stage to ensure you are a serious applicant for the property. It reserves the property for you, and will be refunded once the offer is accepted by the landlord.

Note that your holding deposit is only refundable if:

  • the landlord pulls out of the agreement
  • the agreement is signed and you enter tenancy

If you make an offer on a property in the UK, pay the holding deposit and then change your mind about the property, you can lose that deposit. The holding deposit is like a promissory note: “I am willing to pay x pcm for this property. I have told you the truth about my financial situation. I will sign the tenancy agreement once you’ve run all your third-party checks.”

The holding deposit is usually 1 week’s rent (for a property priced per month, multiply by 12 and divide by 52 to get the weekly amount). Once it has been paid, the landlord should take the property off the market as it has now been let, subject to referencing.

Some landlords will add your holding deposit to the security deposit.

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a 5 week deposit that covers any damages that may occur during your tenancy. Some landlords will put your 1 week holding deposit towards the total security deposit, meaning that they’ll ask you to pay 4 weeks instead of 5. To start a new tenancy, you will normally pay 1 month’s rent plus the security deposit (5 week’s rent), so this first bill will be expensive. Note that not all tenancies are paid monthly, some landlords may charge quarterly or weekly.

Before you sign your contract, read it carefully and make sure you understand all the terms. Ask for an inventory check if one hasn’t been offered. Inventory checks protect both you and the landlord, and they are really helpful when settling disputes. 

During an inventory check, a clerk will walk around the house and create a document that details the condition of the walls, furniture, floors, etc. Normally you would then receive a copy of this document on the day you move in, in which you would check the clerk’s work. Once you have documented everything, the document is kept secure as evidence of “how the property was” when you first moved in. Once you move out, the landlord or agent will inspect the property. If they discover damages that preceded your tenancy (i.e. they were already documented in the inventory), you would not normally be liable for those damages unless the issue had gotten significantly worse during your tenancy and you’d failed to report it.

When paying the deposit, ask for a receipt. There are laws in place to protect your deposit: 

  • It must be refundable 
  • It must be protected in a Deposit Protection Scheme 
  • It cannot be worth more than 5 weeks’ rent (for properties with an annual rent of up to £50,000) or 6 weeks (for properties £50,000 or more). 

This is 5 or 6 weeks rent that is held for the duration of your tenancy. Any damages made to the property will be deducted from this deposit. If no damages are made, this will be returned to you in full at the end of your tenancy. 

What is tenant referencing?

Tenant referencing is simply the process of the landlord or letting agent determining if you are a reliable prospective tenant and will be able to keep up with the monthly rent payments. 

This could include:

  • A letter providing evidence of  your character from a former landlord, former flatmate or school
  • A reference from your employer both supporting the suitability of your character and your income
  • If unable to provide a reference from your previous landlord, a useful alternative could be to prove that your deposit was fully refunded or to present your previous tenancy agreement and rent receipts.