If you have just come out of a relationship consider your options carefully. It may be an idea to rent a room in a house with a family or as part of a house share until you can find something more permanent. This will give you time to sort out your legal situation and finances as well as helping you overcome initial feelings of isolation.

Step-by-Step Guide to Renting:

Determine how much you can afford to pay in rent

Work out how much you can afford to spend on rent. As a general guide you should be looking at no more than a third of your income, excluding electricity and gas which might be included in your rent.

Decide where you want to live

Think about nearness to your place of work, local amenities and local schools. Check out the neighbourhood: is it the type of place you'd feel comfortable walking around at night, would you be happy for your children to play outside, what are the local residents like? Is it a retirement area, full of young professionals, family orientated or close to a university or college? This may determine whether the environment is likely to be quiet and peaceful or lively with good social clubs and bars.

Consider your needs

Make a list of the facilities that are important to you such as central heating, good security, laundry facilities, a telephone, number and size of bedrooms. Make a checklist before you begin your search.

Find a suitable place to rent

Look online, estate agents and letting agencies. If you see a property that looks promising ring immediately, good properties for rent are often in high demand. When you ring make a note of any additional information you get and file it with the original advertisement, this will avoid confusion if you are viewing a number of properties.

Inspect places to rent carefully

Don't rush into taking the first apartment you see. Sometimes the search for the right property can take many weeks but you are better off staying with friends or in a Bed and Breakfast while you look rather than finding yourself living in conditions unfit for habitation.

Find out what bills are included in the rent and what extra features are included, for example is there an allocated parking lot and is the property furnished? Consider the personality of the landlord and if possible speak to other tenants to see how quickly he makes repairs. Inspect the property with a friend for a second opinion and trust your instincts. If you see an old gas boiler that concerns you or exposed electrical wires try again - you will need to feel safe and comfortable in your home.

Tenancy Agreement

Before you sign a tenancy agreement:

* Read it carefully and make sure you and your landlord agree on everything
* Clarify what the rent includes, when it is due, how it is paid and what the notice period is
* Find out if the deposit is refundable and whether it includes any rent upfront
* Ask for a full inventory of everything in the flat and check that nothing is missing. Make a list of anything that is damaged and insist the landlord repairs it from the outset - get his agreement to do this in writing before you sign anything

Moving in

Once you move in:
* Make a list of essential things you need to buy. Include bed linen and quilts, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, a can opener, shaving mirror and cleaning tools
* Take meter readings from the gas and electricity and inform utility companies if you are going to be responsible for paying the bills
* Get a TV licence. Pick up a form from any post office
* Arrange contents insurance for your possessions
* Inform your bank, credit card company and any organisations that write to you on a regular basis of your new address
* Register to vote and let the local council tax office know you have moved

Know your rights as a tenant

If you experience difficulties with your landlord get advice quickly. Be aware that

* Your tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract and any violation is a breech of contract
* Your landlord cannot simply move you out or move someone else in while your lease is valid
* Your landlord cannot enter your home without your permission. If emergency repairs are necessary you should let him enter but he must give adequate notice
* When you pay a deposit you should get a receipt and weekly rent should be entered into a rent book. The deposit should be fully refundable when you leave providing there is no damage to the property or furnishings
* The landlord must keep the property in good repair and provide adequate fuel, water and sanitation. He must also ensure that a registered CORGI engineer checks any gas system annually

If you do experience problems keep a note of any correspondence or telephone calls between you and the landlord. Seek advice from one of the organisations listed on our links page. The sooner you do this the better because problems are likely to escalate if left unresolved.