How to rent

This guide is for people who are looking for a house or flat to rent.

Applies to England



This guide is for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities. It provides a checklist and more detailed information on each stage of the process, including:

  • what to look out for before renting
  • living in a rented home
  • what happens at the end of a tenancy
  • what to do if things go wrong

This is the most up to date version of the Guide. It incorporates all changes detailed in the update history below.

We are updating the easy read which supports tenants with learning disabilities. It is supplementary to How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England and will be available as an additional supporting resource where appropriate.

Check how to get repairs done in your rented home

This online tool gives you tailored information about getting problems fixed in your rented home. You’ll also find out what to do if your landlord or letting agent is not responding to requests for repairs.

Published 10 June 2014
Last updated 2 October 2023 + show all updates
  1. The How to Rent guide has been updated with advice on how to access free legal aid services, advice and support, regardless of financial circumstances.

  2. Updated How to rent: the checklist for renting in England.

  3. Added How to rent: easy read

  4. Updated the How to Rent guidance.

  5. 3 June 2019: Corrected to reflect the rebranding of National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) to Safeagent, and to update links to the GOV.UK client money protection scheme webpage. 29 July 2019: The ‘Before you start’ section was updated to clarify Shelter’s advisory role. The sentence ‘If you don’t have a guarantor, you can ask Shelter for help’ was amended to ‘If you don’t have a guarantor, you can ask Shelter for advice’.

  6. Guide updated following the Tenant Fees Act 2019.

  7. On 6 July 2018 the title of the guide was amended to 'How to rent: the checklist for renting in England'.

  8. Added updated guide.

  9. Removed reference to the 'London Rental Standard' in the renting 'Direct from the landlord' section.

  10. Updated the How to Rent guide.

  11. Updated with the latest edition of this guide

  12. Added updated guide.

  13. Added information about Acrobat Reader download

  14. First published.