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What to do before you rent

Bradford Council believes that there are some things that you can do before you start renting a flat or a house, which should stop problems at a later date.

When you start to look for rented property, work out your budget taking into account your bills and other outgoings, so you know what you can afford. You should never agree to rent a house or flat if you are unsure you can afford it, because if you do not pay your rent your landlord can take you to court and evict you. Not only will you lose your home, but you will also have a court judgement against you which will make it more difficult to rent another property.

You may be able to get help to pay you rent from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if you claim this.  You should find out how much help you can get, beforehand.

Before you agree to rent, or sign anything, take a good look around the property you’re thinking of renting. Is it safe and suitable for you to live in? Here are some things you should think about: 

  • Is the property large enough, with the right number of bedrooms for your family
  • Heating: what kind is there, and does it work? 
  • Damp: look for tell-tale stains or mould on walls and ceilings. 
  • Electricity: are there enough sockets and do they work? 
  • Water: is hot water provided? 
  • Kitchen and bathroom: are they well equipped and big enough? Do they have adequate ventilation? Do all the fixtures and fittings work? 
  • Furniture: check what comes with the property and what condition it is in. The landlord should give you a list. Make sure you agree with what’s on it
  • Security: check that all the doors and windows close properly and that there are enough locks and bolts to keep the place secure 
  • Safety: how would you get out in a fire? The Fire Service has produced more information about Fire Safety and your landlord is responsible for making sure you have enough smoke alarms. If you’re thinking of moving into a house that’s been converted into flats, bedsits or a hostel (HMO) there should be fire safety equipment such as smoke and heat detectors, fire doors and fire blankets.
  • Safety: any room with a fuel burning appliance – such as a gas fire, but excluding gas cookers – should have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm fitted.

Make a list of anything that does not work or is missing and talk to the landlord about it. 

Ask your landlord for a written tenancy agreement, which says what your rent is and spells out what you and your landlord are responsible for.

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Contact details

Housing Standards Team
8th Floor, Margaret McMillan Tower
Princes Way,

Phone : 01274 434520
Email :