Where to look for a home in the Private Rented Sector
Here are the most common ways of finding a home in the private rented sector.
Social lettings agencies
These are not for profit enterprises that manage homes on behalf of private landlords and match up people looking for a home to rent with landlords who have homes to let. Social lettings agencies work in partnership with Councils and will accept people who receive Local Housing Allowance from the Council to pay their rent. In addition social lettings agencies do not charge tenants for their services and do not charge any up-front costs such as rent in advance and agency fees. The Social Lettings Agency in Neath Port Talbot is Neath Civic Centre, Neath, SA11 3QZ. Tel: 01639 685219. Web: http://www.lettingspbw.gov.uk.
Accommodation agencies and letting agents
A large number of homes in the private rented sector are let through letting and managing agents. If you have money and references from your employer or bank, going to a letting agent might save you a lot of time and effort, as they are likely to have a selection of properties that might be right for you.
When you contact an agent you should check what they can charge you for. Lettings Agents cannot charge for registering your details or for giving you information about available homes. They can charge for drawing up tenancy agreements or inventories (an inventory is a list of the furniture and fittings in your accommodation, with notes about their condition and the condition of the property itself) and for any other services that you agree to, such as discussing the tenancy agreement, and any changes you would like to make to it, with the landlord. You might want to use Lettings Agents which are members of the following associations, as they are generally considered more reputable:
- Association of Residential Lettings Agents
- National Approved Lettings Scheme
- National Association of Estate Agents
- Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
- Safe Agent Fully Endorsed
You can find Lettings Agents who are members of these groups by searching on their websites.
You will find letting agents listed in the local papers and in Yellow Pages or Thompson Local.
Some agents will not deal with people who receive Local Housing Allowance from their Council to pay their rent. Your Housing Options Team will be able to tell you which Lettings Agents accept tenants who receive Local Housing Allowance.
If you have internet access then browsing properties online can be a fast and efficient way of tracking down the type of home you are looking for. Sites you can use include:
A lot of people find their homes through adverts in newspapers. Places go quickly so it is important to start early and follow up the advert as soon as possible.
Housing Options team
Your local Housing Options Team may also keep a list of landlords and you could check to find out whether they have any homes available when you are looking.