The search for your first rental home is an exciting adventure but can also prove to be stressful. It is all too easy to become intimidated by the process or lose the perfect property because you aren’t adequately prepared.

first time renters guide

If you are looking to rent in Wimbledon, you will have an impressive array of potential homes to choose from. There is something to suit all tastes.

If you are a first time renter, read on for insights into how to find your ideal rental home and what you need to do when you move in.

Determine your budget

Before you move in, you will have to pay a security deposit and possibly one month’s rent in advance. There is little point in trying to rent a home until you have saved enough to cover the costs you will incur in advance of moving in, as you will inevitably fall at the first hurdle.

Work out how much rent you can afford to pay, don’t be tempted to overstretch yourself. When you apply for a property, the landlord or letting agent will do an affordability check. This will vary between landlords and agencies, but with Robert Holmes we require your monthly earnings to be at least three times the rent. If your gross salary is less than this, you may be asked to provide a guarantor.

You will also need to budget for council tax, gas, electricity, water, broadband, insurance and TV license costs.

Starting your search

Make a checklist of the features you are looking for in a property. This will help you narrow down your choices and pick the right rental home. Think about parking and proximity to public transport, whether you want to live close to bars and restaurants or somewhere more quiet, how many bedrooms you need and whether a furnished or unfurnished property would suit you best.

Portal websites are a great place to start your search, but you should also register with local estate agencies so you are first to know of new properties that meet your criteria. Often the best properties are snapped up before they appear online.

Viewing Properties

Due to the fast pace of the rental market in Wimbledon, it is advisable to have all decision-makers attending the viewing so you can decide quickly and not miss out.

Take the checklist you made regarding your needs with you to viewings to make sure the property is a good match. Make a list of questions to ask about all the properties you view. Here are some important ones:

  • How much is the monthly rent?
  • What is included in the rent?
  • What additional bills will I be responsible for and how much are they likely to be?
  • What is the deposit and where will it be protected?
  • What fees must be paid to set up the tenancy agreement?
  • Are there fees if you renew the tenancy in the future?
  • How long is the contract?
  • What notice period is required?
  • Who should be contacted in the case of an emergency?
  • What insurance does the landlord have and what do I need to arrange?

property viewing

Applying for a property

When you have found a property you would like to rent, you will need to put down a holding deposit (the equivalent of one week’s rent) and complete an application form. The application form gathers the information required for your reference and credit checks. The details usually requested are:

  • Tenants’ names and contact details
  • Required tenancy start date
  • Contact details of a referee, this could be your current landlord or if you are a first time renter, your employer or college lecturer
  • Contact details of guarantor (if you need one)
  • Employment details, including your current and past employers and your salary
  • Bank statements
  • Other details such as whether you smoke or have pets

Make sure you inform your referees in advance, as they will probably be contacted during the referencing process.

Referencing process

Your prospective landlord or letting agent will assess your suitability for renting the property. They will request references from your employer and possibly also personal references and run a credit check. Expect the referencing process to take around a week to complete.

You will be asked to provide proof that you have the right to live in the UK so make sure you have your passport and other relevant documents to hand. More information on which documents are acceptable in a Right to Rent check can be found here.

Tenancy deposit scheme (TDS)

When you have been accepted for the property, you and your landlord will agree on a moving in date. You will be asked to pay the security deposit and the first month’s rent in advance. If you have paid a holding deposit, it will be deducted from this amount.

Security deposits are capped at five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000 and six weeks’ rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or more. All deposits must be placed in one of the following government-approved tenancy deposit schemes. Your landlord should inform you which one they have used.

tenancy deposit


Your landlord will have insurance for the building and for any contents they provide. It is essential to arrange contents insurance for your belongings before you move into your new home.

Collecting your keys

On the agreed moving in date, you can collect the keys from the letting agency, or the landlord may meet you at the property to give you the keys.

You will be sent an inventory. Make sure you check this thoroughly before signing it, as it will help you if there is ever a dispute about the property’s condition when you come to move out.

As part of your check-in process, you should also be given the following documents and certificates:

  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Deposit Protection Certificate
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Electrical Safety certificate
  • How to Rent Guide

Make sure you have the contact details for the managing agent or landlord and that you know how to report any issues.

Take meter readings as soon as you move in and notify the utilities companies.

During your tenancy

During your tenancy, you should ensure that you pay the rent on time, take good care of the property and be considerate to your neighbours.

If you have an issue, always report it to the managing agent or landlord, as minor problems can develop into bigger ones if they are not dealt with promptly. Never attempt any repairs or decorating without contacting your landlord or agent for permission and guidance.

Your landlord (or tradespeople) may need to access the property during the tenancy, for instance, to carry out repairs and maintenance or property inspections. They should give you a minimum of 24-hours notice before any visit.

There’s a lot to think about when you are searching for your first rental property. However, if you plan ahead, budget wisely, think carefully about what you really want and ask the right questions, you will find the perfect home.

If you’re looking for a property to rent in Wimbledon or the surrounding areas, get in touch today.

About the author

Nicolas Holmes

Nick joined Robert Holmes to inject fresh ideas and help grow the New Homes department of Robert Holmes as well as helping to inject technology into the business and to grow its client base. Together with one of the Directors Nick is in charge of all Development opportunities that Robert Holmes deals with along with sales. Aged 40, he provides succession together with the two existing directors. Nick has always been focused on building client relationships and sales. He built up his own gallery in Chelsea, where he had a loyal following of customers and artists.

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