Looking for private rented housing

There are many properties in North Somerset which are available to rent from a private landlord in the private rented sector. The private rented sector means properties that are owned by individuals and rented out for a set price, usually per month.

You can find a helpful guide to renting on the GOV.UK website. It contains lots of advice and checklists to help you get started.

Advantages of renting in the private sector

There are many advantages to renting privately:

  • there are no waiting lists, so you’ll be able to move in quickly
  • you can choose where you want to live, and you can easily move somewhere else if you want
  • there are many different types of property available, from one-bedroom studio flats to houses big enough for large families
  • the properties will usually be decorated and carpeted
  • properties often come with a fridge, freezer, washing machine and other white goods
  • if you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to housing benefit which will cover some or all of your rent

Where to find a property

Looking for a new home can be hard work. You may need to search daily and be flexible with your requirements.

You can find properties to rent by:

  • searching for local letting agencies online
  • checking shop windows and community/supermarket notice boards
  • speaking to the accommodation office at your college if you’re a student
  • joining local groups on social media
  • asking friends and family to keep an eye out for vacancies
  • checking websites, such as Zoopla, Gumtree, Rightmove and Prime Location

Letting agents

Letting agents manage properties on behalf of many private landlords.

They don’t charge you to view properties but they are likely to ask for a referencing fee, rent in advance and a security deposit.

Dealing directly with a landlord may be an easier and cheaper option. As well as avoiding fees, you may be able to negotiate a smaller deposit or flexibility in your first rental payments.

Top tips for finding a privately rented home

Landlords' and lettings agents’ main concern is finding a good tenant – someone who is reliable, will keep the property in good condition and most importantly, maintain rent payments.

  • visit letting agents in person – if you can, pop in and introduce yourself
  • ring round landlords and letting agents at least twice a week – it will usually take more than a couple of phone calls before you’re successful. 
  • be polite and relaxed when you call or visit a landlord or letting agent
  • contact more than one lettings agency – keep track of the agencies that serve the areas you want to live in and check local newspapers and websites
  • don't open the conversation with “do you accept housing benefits?” – you are much more than your benefits claim. Try, “Please can you help me, I’m looking for…” and go on to explain what you are looking for, why you are looking for a property and talk about any successful tenancies you have previously had
  • references – if you have a previous landlord reference, or something to show you’re a good tenant, make copies and give them to landlords and letting agents
  • present yourself well – be prepared to tell them a little about yourself. There is usually high demand for private rented accommodation, so the better you can present yourself, the more likely it is that you will be successful
  • set your search areas as wide as possible to have a better chance of success – consider areas further away from your ideal location, but with good transport links
  • view the property – once you find a suitable property, you’ll need to go and have a look at it. Be on time, be friendly and polite. Show a keen interest in the property. It’s a good idea to take a list of things to check and questions to ask, so you don’t forget about anything when you’re there. Don’t sign anything without viewing the property
  • don’t be afraid to ask the landlord or agent questions – if they’re reluctant to provide you with answers then this should make you question if they’re the type of person you want to rent from