When looking for a flat or house to rent, think about:
- if the property is suitable for you e.g. managing the stairs
- what area you want to live in
- how much rent you can afford
- how much the start-up costs could be, such as the deposit or rent in advance
- how you will pay for things like furniture, kitchen appliances and insurance
Where to look for private rented properties
We cannot help you to find private rented accommodation. But there are several ways of searching for yourself:
- local papers and magazines such as the Dorset Echo and Bournemouth Echo
- noticeboards in shop windows, supermarkets and community noticeboards
- websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove advertise available properties
- house sharing websites such as Flatmate and Spare Rooms let you search for other people who are looking to share a property, which can help cut costs
Letting and management agents
Agents manage properties on behalf of private landlords. Agents should not charge you for a property search.
If you rent a property through an agent, they usually charge a fee of one third of a month's rent plus VAT. This fee may be non-refundable.
They will also need a deposit and up to two months’ rent in advance. We cannot recommend individual letting and management agents.
Viewing a property
When viewing a property, check that the property is secure and the heating, lighting and plumbing are working. The property should be in a good state of repair, and it is important you read the tenancy agreement before signing.
Get advice on renting a property
- checks your landlord or letting agent will make
- other costs of renting such as rent in advance, tenancy and holding deposits
- things to know before, during and at the end of your tenancy
- your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and tenancy agreements
You can contact Citizens Advice Dorset for more help and support.
If you are renting privately and not working, you may be able to make a claim for housing costs through Universal Credit. Get more information about benefits you may be entitled to in our welcome pack.
If you are working and on a low income, you may also be entitled to some help. Use an online benefits checker, such as Turn2us Benefits Calculator, to see if there is anything you can claim.
The Local Housing Allowance limits the amount you can claim in housing costs. It applies to claims for the housing element of Universal Credit. The allowance takes account of where you live and the number of bedrooms you can claim for. You can claim a bedroom for each of the following:
- a couple who live together
- someone else in the household who is 16 or over
- two children of the same sex (a child is someone under 16)
- two children of any sex who are younger than 10
Check the Local Housing Allowance Rates to see the most you can claim. It will change depending on the area you are looking to move into.
Look for somewhere at a similar rent or lower to avoid a shortfall. If there is a shortfall and you choose to go ahead, make sure you can afford to make up the difference.