Unfortunately many people find that they are unable to obtain accommodation provided by housing associations, mainly due to the lack of vacancies and the high demand for social housing.

Many people therefore find that looking for privately rented accommodation is their best option. This often gives you more choice over the type of accommodation available and the area in which you live.

There are many things that you will need to think about before you start looking for somewhere to live like:

  • Where you would like to live;
  • The size and type of accommodation you would like;
  • The cost of the accommodation each week or month;
  • Whether you will have to pay a deposit;
  • Whether you can get housing benefit;
  • How long the accommodation is available for;
  • Is the accommodation furnished or unfurnished;
  • What type of tenancy you will have.

Finding accommodation

Private rented accommodation is advertised in various ways, but is most commonly available through letting or accommodation agencies, local newspapers, shop windows and by word of mouth.

Type of accommodation

There are lots of different types of accommodation to rent privately and they will vary greatly in quality, size, price and the services available depending on where and what type of accommodation you are looking for. Some areas have less accommodation available so this may limit your choice. It may also be difficult if you limit yourself to only a certain type of property in a particular area. It will be easier if you are prepared to be flexible.

You will need to consider

You need to know that you are able to meet the rent payments on the property. If you are on a low income or receiving state benefits you might qualify for housing benefit to help with the rent. Before entering into any agreement for a property, it is always advisable to check if the rent falls within the Local Housing Allowance. If you do not do so you may find that you have to pay any shortfall between the Local Housing Allowance and the contractual rent

For more information on the factors to consider when claiming benefits please see here

A lot of private landlords and letting agencies will require a rent deposit, which will often be at least one month’s rent. You may also be asked to provide references, which will mean giving bank details or a letter from your employer confirming your income, and often a character reference that could be given by a former landlord or if you are taking on a tenancy for the first time, a parent or guardian.  Since 6 April 2007, if a landlord takes a deposit, they should within 14 days of receiving a deposit, give the tenant details of how their deposit is protected. There are two types of tenancy deposit protection scheme available for landlords and letting agents.  All schemes provide a free dispute resolution service.  

Most new tenancies now are set up as assured shorthold tenancies and are generally for either an initial six or twelve-month period. You should make sure that before you sign an agreement that you read it carefully and agree with the terms that are set out. You should get advice about anything that you are unclear about.

Contact us

Housing Options
Community and Housing Department
3rd Floor
Civic Centre

Telephone: 020 8545 3636

Email: housingadvice@merton.gov.uk