Moving into your new rental

Once you’ve chosen a rental property and agreed the tenancy with the landlord, things start to move fast. Our guide tells what you can expect to happen next – from paperwork to making payments – and what’s involved in being a property tenant.

Published in April 2023

The initial paperwork

If the property landlord has accepted your application, the next step is to sign the terms and conditions of the tenancy contract. This will cover things such as the rental price, the type of tenancy, the duties you have as a tenant and the service you can expect from your landlord.

You will usually then need to pay a holding deposit. This is equivalent to one week’s rent and as long as the tenancy proceeds, it will be refunded to you when you make your first month’s rental payment. The holding fee allows the letting agents to remove the property from the market while reference checks are done.

Reference checking can take around two weeks. This involves your landlord’s agents arranging for several checks to be made to show that you’d be a suitable tenant. These checks look into your rental history, financial status, credit check and employment record. The landlord or letting agent will also conduct a right-to-rent check to confirm that you are legally entitled to rent a property in the UK.

For convenience, you may have the option to handle this paperwork remotely. At Smeaton Homes, we ask letting applicants and landlords to sign and exchange paperwork by email using DocuSign. You can, however, come in to sign documents in person if you’d prefer.

You can find more information about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in the government’s ‘How to rent’ guide

Preparing for the move

Once the referencing is done, your tenancy agreement can be drawn up and it’s time to sign the contracts. This is the stage at which you’ll legally commit to the tenancy. So you should check it carefully and be sure that you want to proceed.

At this point you’ll also need to set up a regular payment for your rent fees. If you have a guarantor (someone who agrees to be legally liable for unpaid rent on your behalf if, for example, you’re unable to show you have a suitable credit history), they will need to sign agreements at this stage too.

You’ll also agree a move-in date. Following this, you’ll get a ‘move-in letter’, which will confirm how much you need to pay. This will include your first month’s rent payment plus your deposit. These payments will be due at least 48 hours before you move in. Your deposit will be protected in a government-approved scheme. As long as you keep up with rent payments and look after the property correctly, you should get your deposit returned to you at the end of your tenancy.

With the move-in date set you can also start taking practical steps such as booking in a removals service and cancelling deliveries to your old address.

Getting into your new rental home

If everything has gone to plan with payments, checks and contracts, you can get the keys for your new rental! But there’s still some admin to complete before you can kick back and relax. One of the most important tasks is to check the inventory – a list of all the items that should be provided in the property. You’ll need to check the inventory report provided against what’s actually present in the flat or house. Then you’ll need to note anything that’s missing or inaccurate, before signing and returning it within the time stated by your landlord or letting agents.

Another important job is to set up accounts for each of your utilities – which might include water, phone, broadband, gas and electric. The starting meter readings should be provided on your inventory report and you’ll need to submit these when setting up your accounts so your bills are in order.

There are a number of other admin tasks to attend to so you can get established at your new address. Make sure service providers like TV Licensing, Council Tax, Electoral Services and DVLA are all notified about your move – along with all others that you have an account with. Plus, make a note of practical things like the bin collection days.

Settling in to your new home

Then you really can relax into your new rental home! Your tenancy agreement will have details about the rules and expectations placed on you as a tenant. You also have a number of rights as a tenant. Hopefully, in a spirit of cooperation, you’ll enjoy a smooth and positive relationship with your landlord and letting agents.

If anything goes wrong – like a boiler emergency or a property maintenance issue – remember to let your landlord or agents know as soon as possible. If you’re renting through Smeaton Homes, you can report issues through a simple online system called PropertyFile. This also keeps all your important documents in one place for easy access, including details about what to do when it’s time to end your tenancy and move on to your next home.