Looking for a private rented home

Things to think about

Looking for a private rented home takes time and there is a lot to think about. Watford is an expensive area to rent in. Because it is an expensive area, the council recommends you consider homes outside of Watford too.  This page gives you information on finding a suitable private rented home for yourself.

How can the council help with renting a private rented home?

HomeLet is a free of charge, private renting incentive scheme run by the council.  The Homelet scheme matches landlords who have available properties with prospective tenants looking for a private rented home. In some cases, the council can help HomeLet applicants financially to secure a home.

Where to find a private rented home

Look at the websites of letting agencies such as

Citizen's Advice Watford has an excellent list of websites you can look at to find a private rented home.  Their list is broken down to websites that rent homes

  • For people who claim local housing allowance
  • For single people
  • For people with pets
  • With rooms to let

What can you afford?

Use this Affordability calculator to help you find out how much rent you can afford. This website also gives you lots of information about budgeting for your housing costs.

Things to think about when viewing a private rented home

Shelter has a comprehensive list of things to think about and look at when you view a private rented home which covers what you should look at on the outside and inside property, whether the property is safe, like the wiring and electrical items, what furniture and fittings are available and their condition, how you feel about the landlord, where is local transport, can you afford the rent and so on.

Gov.uk also has a comprehensive checklist on renting homes in England.

Checking the landlord is who they say they are and the property you are looking at definitely belongs to them can be done through RentProfile which is a website listing verified landlords and tenants.  If the landlord is not listed there, the site offers a landlord background checking service for a small fee.

Agreeing the rent with the landlord

Check on the internet for what rents are charged for similar properties using ZooplaRightmovePrimelocationGumtree or Home.co.uk

Check what the rent includes.  For example:  does it include charges for water, gas, electricity, council tax?

Setting up a private rented tenancy

Gov.uk gives comprehensive advice on how to set up a private rented tenancy. The most common type of tenancy issued by a private landlord is an assured shorthold tenancy which has a fixed period of 6 or 12 months and sometimes longer.

Your landlord's responsibilities when you become their tenant.

Shelter has a list of responsibilities a landlord has towards their tenant.

These include that the landlord:

  • Must check that you have a right to rent and will ask you to provide ID.
  • Must protect your deposit for the home in a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme
  • Must provide you with start of tenancy information, such as electricity and gas safety certificates
  • Is responsible for most repairs in your home
  • Has responsibility for health and safety in your home
  • Must tell you about your rent and follow rules for increasing it
  • Must allow you to enjoy your home without interference
  • Cannot evict you without following certain rules set out in housing law

If the home you are renting is a room in a shared house, the landlord may have to have a house in multiple occupation licence

Your rights and responsibilities as a tenant

In return for living in the home, you should keep to the rules of the tenancy.  You should:

  • Live in the property as your main home
  • Always pay the rent in advance and on time
  • Do not smoke, keep pets or run a business in the home if these are not allowed in the tenancy agreement
  • Report repairs that need to be done as soon as possible and let the landlord in to get them done
  • Not damage the property, furniture or fittings
  • End the tenancy properly

What to do if you fall behind with your rent

The landlord is very likely to evict you if you do not pay your rent and go into arrears.  As well as evicting you, they can also claim back the money you owe them through the courts.

You must talk to the landlord as soon as possible if you do fall behind with your rent to agree a way of repaying the rent owed. See the advice on what to do.

If you are on a low income, and/or claiming welfare benefits, you may be able to get financial help with paying your rent such as local housing allowance/housing benefit.

You can apply online to the council for local housing allowance/housing benefit

The Money Advice Service gives advice on budgeting and planning your income

Watford's Credit Union is a good place to start saving with and a better place to get cheaper loans than relying on loan sharks.

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