How to look for private rented accommodation

You might find it easier to look for private rented accommodation than apply for social housing if you are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Redbridge Council has very limited social housing and most people on the housing register will not get a house.

You can get advice and support if you are homeless or could become homeless.. This includes if you have nowhere to stay or it is unsafe for you to stay where you are.

You will first get advice from us including:

  • options to prevent you from becoming homeless
  • what benefits you can claim for
  • other options to find a home such as housing mobility schemes
  • referrals to our Children’s Social Services or Adult Social Care

Use this guidance so you can look for rented private accommodation in Redbridge.

What is private rented accommodation

Private accommodation is rented from a landlord or letting agent (not a council or housing association) in the private rented sector.

Different types of private rented accommodation

You can look for:

  • a room in a property where you will share a kitchen, bathroom and living room with people who do not own the property (a house share)
  • a flat or house where you live on your own
  • a room with a family or the property owner (lodger)

Why choose private rented accommodation

You might choose to rent privately because you:

  • have some choice over where you choose to live
  •  have more choice over the kind of property you can live in, including a house with a garden if you have a family
  • are likely to find a home quicker in the private rented sector rather than waiting for a council house

Before you start looking

You should think about the following before you look for a private property to rent:

  • you cannot join or stay on the Redbridge housing waiting list (register) if you move to another borough permanently
  • you may need a rent guarantor who will pay the rent if you cannot pay it
  • you may need a reference from your previous landlord
  • Universal Credit or Housing Benefit usually does not cover all of the rent
  • it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against people who are claiming Universal Credit or Housing Benefit
  • some landlords will not let you have a pet

If we have arranged temporary accommodation for you but your circumstances change and you arrange private rented accommodation instead, you must tell Redbridge Council.

Check the Redbridge Tenants Handbook for more information before you start looking

You should also check our Redbridge Tenants Handbook before you start looking for a private rented property.

This handbook includes the following:

  • things to consider before renting
  • deposit protection schemes
  • what to check before signing a tenancy agreement
  • your rights and responsibilities as a tenant
  • your landlord’s responsibilities
  • using the Rogue Landlord and Agent checker

How to look for private rented accommodation

Use the following steps when you are looking for private rented accommodation:

  1. Check what you can afford, including the size of the property.
  2. If you are eligible for benefits, find out how much rent will be covered in your benefit claim, otherwise known as the Local Housing Allowance rate.
  3. Check which areas to look at for private rented accommodation.
  4. Find a landlord or agent.
  5. Arrange a viewing.

1. Check what you can afford

You should work out what you can afford before you start your search for rented property. This includes:

  • rent
  • tenancy deposit
  • rent in advance
  • moving costs

You may get help with your rent if you are entitled to Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. How much you could get depends on the number of bedrooms you are eligible for.

How many bedrooms you are eligible to claim for:

  • will depend on the age and gender of your household members
  • might be different to the number of bedrooms you currently have

Use the bedroom calculator to check how many bedrooms you can claim for (link opens in a new tab).

2. Find your Local Housing Allowance rate

You cannot always claim benefits to cover all your rent.

If you are eligible for benefits, you should check the maximum amount you could claim towards your rent. This is known as the Local Housing Allowance rate (LHA). 

Check the LHA rates for Redbridge.

The LHA rate will be different in different parts of the country.

If you are under 35 and single

You will usually get the shared accommodation rate if you are under the age of 35 and single (not living with a partner). This rate is for a single room in a house which you share with other people.

The shared accommodation rate is lower than other LHA rates.

You will get this rate, even if you are living in a flat on your own.

3. Which areas to look at for rented accommodation

You can look in any area that you want to live in.

However, you are more likely to find better quality and more affordable properties outside of London.

You will have to leave the social housing register if you move out of Redbridge permanently and are on the register.

Check the Local Housing Allowance rates for other parts of the country by using the LHA calculator (link opens in a new tab). You will need to enter the number of bedrooms you can claim for.

4. Find a landlord or agent

Usually, you can find a landlord or agent with rented properties by searching online.

A landlord or agent should not ask you to pay any banned fees such as introductory fees.

Find out more about which agent or landlord fees are banned.

Contact the Trading Standards team if a landlord or agent asks you to pay any banned fees.

5. Arrange a viewing

You should always view the property that you are interested in before you commit to any tenancy. This means you can check if it is suitable for you.

Arrange a date and time to view as soon as possible. There are many people looking for properties.

How to keep safe when viewing properties to rent

Stay safe when you are looking for a private property to rent:

  • never view properties by yourself - take a friend
  • do not pay for anything before checking the landlord or agent is allowed to rent out the property
  • do not pay a holding deposit (holding fee) unless you have viewed the property
  • always get a receipt for any payments you make
  • get agreements confirmed in writing

Find out more about renting private accommodation

Read GOV.UK’s How to rent guide for detailed advice about renting private accommodation.

The guide includes:

  • a checklist of what to do while you are looking for somewhere to rent
  •  practical advice such as what happens at the end of the tenancy contract

Shelter have also written detailed guidance on private renting.

Contact us for advice

Contact us for advice if you cannot find somewhere affordable to rent in Redbridge.

We can help by:

  • looking at your situation and working out what you can afford
  • telling you about other options