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Renting Privately

How to Find Private Rented Housing

Colchester has a very competitive private rented housing sector which can make it very difficult to find a landlord who is willing to offer you a tenancy. See below for some places you can look for privately rented housing:

  • Word of mouth: friends, family and work colleagues may know a landlord
  • Local notice: Some private landlords will advertise on their own. Check local noticeboards
  • Letting Agents: Some agencies will ask you to undergo a credit check at a cost. If you think you are likely to fail, find someone who may act as a guarantor, who could pay your rent if you are unable
  • Websites: ZooplaRightmoveGumtreeOpenrent or Spare Room

What Sort of Property do I Need?

The type of property you need will largely depend on who lives with you but might also depend on your age, employment status or other factors.

A single, 20 year old is likely to have different needs to a family with 4 children or even a single person in their 60s or 70s. The following is a guide to the types of accommodation that might be available:

  • Lodgings – you have your own room (which should be lockable) but share the rest of the house with your landlord. Bills are usually included with the rent
  • Bedsit – you have your own, lockable room but usually share other facilities (e.g. kitchen and bathroom) with the other people living in the property. Bills are often included with the rent
  • House-share – own room but share the rest of the property (which might include a communal living-room) with the other tenants. There will either be individual tenancy agreements or one for the whole property
  • Self-contained flats & houses – No shared spaces, or other tenants

The type of tenancy you are offered will mainly depend on:

  • The date you moved in
  • Who you live with
  • Who your landlord is
  • The type of housing you live in

To check what type of tenancy you may be offered (and your legal rights) please follow this link.

Solo Housing Lodging Scheme

Single residents in Colchester who require affordable accommodation can be referred to the Solo Housing Lodging scheme. The scheme helps people find a safe affordable place to stay, matching them with a lodgings landlord and a room in their house.

The Lodging Scheme enables homeowners with a spare room to let it out and meet someone wishing to rent it. This also provides the householder with extra tax-free income. It also provides people who do not have a home with a quick solution to their problem at an affordable rent.

Find out more by reading this lodging leaflet from Solo Housing or visit for further information.

Help With Paying Rent

You may be entitled to some help with your rent costs – the amount of help that you receive will depend on the size of property you need, your income and family make-up. You can check whether or not you might be entitled to help with your rent payments by completing a trial benefit calculation here.

What Size Property Do I Need?

The housing benefit and universal credit rules state that 1 bedroom is required for each of the following:

  • A couple or a single adult
  • A person aged 16 or over
  • 2 children aged 10-15 who are of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 regardless of their sex

What Fees Will I Need To Pay?

Most letting agents will require you to pay various fees before offering you a tenancy.

The fees will often cover the cost of credit checks, and administration. The fees currently charged can be quite expensive but the government has recently published a draft Bill which aims to lower landlords and letting agents fees currently charged to tenants.

On average, a landlord will ask for approx. 6 weeks rent as a damage deposit that is required by law to be placed in a deposit protection scheme. Failure to do so is prosecutable. They will also ask for the first month’s rent in advance.

More information on deposit protection can be found here.

Information about deposits and rent in advance payments generally (including where you might get help to pay these) can be found here.

My landlord has asked for evidence that I have the ‘right to rent’

By law, all private sector landlords and letting agents must undertake a ‘right to rent check’ before they rent you a property.

They must check your immigration status and that of anyone aged 18 or over who will be living with you. If a landlord or letting agency fails to do the checks, they may be liable for a fine of up to £3,000. Everyone is required to have a ’right to rent check’, regardless of nationality or property type. Not cooperating with supplying evidence for ‘right to rent’ will likely end your chance of renting.

For more information about the ‘right to rent’ checks, please follow this link.

For a list of the documents that can be accepted to prove that you do have the ‘right to rent’, please follow this link.