How to find a property to rent
We do not have nearly enough council or Housing Association tenancies available to meet demand. You may wait up to fifteen years for a council or Housing Association tenancy, even if you have children, or are sick or disabled.
If you need to find accommodation, your best option is to look in the private rented sector.
How to find your new home
Work out where you can live. Try and be as flexible as possible as this gives you the best chance of finding a home. Property in Enfield is very expensive. Consider other areas, particularly outside of London.
Set your budget
Work out what you can afford. Use the benefit calculator to see what you might be entitled to in benefits and work out your budget using a budgeting tool. If you are going to claim Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit, you need to know how much you will get towards your rent. This is known as Local Housing Allowance and you can find out about what you could be entitled to via the Valuation Office.
Register with estate agents
Register with estate agents in all of the areas where you are looking to rent a property. Make sure they have your contact details and stay in touch with them.
Check online property search websites
Set up alerts on property search websites such as Zoopla, Right Move and On the Market. Remember you can use the internet free of charge in any Enfield library. You can also check on classified advertising websites such as Gumtree.
When you view a property, make sure you have your documents with you. Please be aware that there are fraudsters operating in the rental market. Do not part with money or bank details until you are sure that the tenancy is legitimate. If the property seems very cheap compared to other tenancies, the landlord only wants cash or something else does not seem right, be very careful.
Have your information ready
Make sure that you have the information the landlord needs for you to take the tenancy. They will normally ask for proof of ID, proof of your income and proof of where you live now (a gas, electricity or water utility bill or a council tax bill).
Landlords have to check that you are eligible to rent a property in the UK and will need documents as proof. These are known as right to rent checks.
Once you have agreed a new tenancy
You and your landlord both have rights and responsibilities during the tenancy. The Checklist for Renting in England gives some useful information about this.
If you are taking out a Shorthold Tenancy your landlord must keep the property safe and free from health hazards and carry out most repairs. They must also provide you with:
- protection for your deposit in an approved deposit protection scheme
- a current gas safety certificate before you move in
- an Energy Performance Certificate
- working smoke alarms on every floor - the tenant is then responsible for regularly testing smoke alarms and replacing batteries as needed whilst they are living at the property
- a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms using solid fuels
Take a look at the Government's how to rent a safe home guide to find out what to do if you identify a problem in the property.
From 1 June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act comes into force. The aim of the act is to protect tenants from paying high fees to estate agents when they are taking a tenancy.
You are required to search outside of Enfield to increase your chance of finding suitable private rented accommodation.
Our Homefinder scheme is designed to support you in your search for your own private rented home. The Homefinder team can help with a damage deposit and rent in advance if you have no deposit and rent in advance of your own.
If you are accepted, the team can provide details of letting agents with available properties and send your information to agents. However, searching for a private rented home yourself offers more flexibility. If you find your own private rented housing which is suitable, both you and the prospective landlord or agent should contact the Homefinder team, who will:
- help to negotiate the rent
- ensure your tenancy agreement is in order
- fast track your Housing Benefit claim once everything is filled in and your documents have been seen (if you are entitled to Housing Benefit)
- pay the deposit and rent in advance on your behalf if you have no deposit or rent in advance of your own (equivalent to a month's rent)
Once the rent is negotiated, a tenancy will be drawn up if we are satisfied that you will be able to afford the rent. The lettings agency or landlord will then agree an inventory with you. Once the tenancy agreement and Homefinder Scheme agreement are signed, we will complete the Housing Benefit form on your behalf if you are entitled to claim Housing Benefit. The damage deposit will cover damage, rent arrears or theft of content.
To be accepted for the Homefinder Scheme, you must be:
- homeless or threatened with homelessness
- in priority need
- able to manage your finances
- capable of independent living
- able to afford the rent either through work, or Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing element
- unable to afford your own deposit and rent in advance
If we accept a rehousing duty for you, you will normally be referred to the scheme.
Your application for the scheme is assessed in line with homelessness law, which includes assessment on medical vulnerability. We will consider any medical information provided and contact your GP or any medical practitioner assisting you, whose details you have provided.
For advice and information, including whether you are eligible for the Homefinder Scheme, contact the team on 020 8379 1000.