keys in a lock

a guide to viewing and signing for a new home

At akt, we understand that viewing and signing for a new tenancy can be both exciting and nerve-racking. In this guide, we have included a few tips and important steps to think about in preparation for your new home.


Viewing accommodation and properties

  • When viewing a new flat, studio, or house, you should always check both the inside as well as the outside for any issues that may arise or anything that might need fixing.
  • You might want to take someone with you to view a property, such as a friend, family member, support worker or occupational therapist so that they can give a second opinion.
  • If you spot anything that needs repairing when viewing a property, but it is somewhere you really want to live, you can ask to make it a condition of the contract that these issues are fixed. If it seems like this won’t be possible, or a landlord/agency is reluctant to agree, it might be worth considering looking elsewhere.
  • Which? have a brilliant resource covering questions you may want to ask when renting a home, including home viewing tips, a rental property checklist and key questions to ask when viewing a rental property.

It is also good to ask to see a tenancy contract before agreeing to pay anything, and any good agent/landlord will be able to provide a draft.

What to check for


  • Check particularly damp areas such as the kitchen and bathroom for signs of mould. Pay attention to all walls, windows and ceilings, and look behind large furniture such as wardrobes or sofas and inside cupboards – agencies should not be showing properties with damp/mould.
  • Check Shelter’s website for what you and your landlord should do if you spot damp in your property.

appliances and furniture

  • Check, what comes with the property? Are appliances in working order or do they need replacing? Do all light switches and sockets work? Smoke alarms and CO2 detectors – are they fitted, and do they work?

smoke alarms and CO2 detectors

  • There must be at least one smoke alarm on each floor. If the property uses gas, is there a CO2 detector? Will they require batteries, or are they connected to mains electricity?


  • Check, does the toilet flush? Do all the taps and water outlets work properly? Does the shower have enough power and warm up reasonably quickly?


  • Check, does the property have double glazing? Are there any drafts under doors or near windows which might mean it would be hard to keep the property warm?


  • Check, are there extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom? Can you open windows to let fresh air in?

is the property accessible or can it be adapted to be accessible?

When searching for properties online, information on accessibility can be quite basic and photographs might not give enough detail.

It is always best to speak directly with the landlord or agency to ask about accessibility. You might also want to consider accessibility within the area, e.g. access to public transport, whether footpaths and crossings are accessible and whether the area is well-lit.

If you are disabled as defined by the Equality Act 2010, you have a right to ‘auxiliary aids’ which include temporary adaptations or portable support aids.

this does not cover removing or changing any physical features of your home, but could include:

  • 1.

    Replacing taps

  • 2.

    Changing a doorbell

  • 3.

    Changing the colour of a wall or ceiling

  • 4.

    Adding temporary grab handles

  • 5.

    Fitting tap turners

  • 6.

    Having a free-standing bath lift

  • 7.

    Installing temporary shower seats

  • 8.

    Adding cord covers to your electronics

tenancy application checklist:

Once you have viewed the property and decided that it’s suitable and affordable, you will usually need to submit a tenancy application with your details.

this will include supplying supporting information/documents such as:

  • 1.

    Proof of income such as payslips or benefits

  • 2.


  • 3.

    Five year address history

  • 4.

    Employment history

  • 5.

    Reference details for previous landlords*

  • 6.

    Guarantor details (if required)

  • 7.

    Proof of deposit

  • 8.

    A reference from an employer (if required)

The landlord or letting agent will complete checks with your current and previous landlord/housing provider to check if you are a good tenant, and may also carry out a credit check. If you need a guarantor, then they may also be subject to a credit check.

*If you’ve never held a tenancy before then you could use references from a support worker, council worker or other professional who is able to provide a character reference.

You may also have to pay a holding deposit so that the property is not offered to someone else whilst these checks are carried out.

rental property checklist:

Before starting your tenancy, you must be provided with the following documents:

  • A copy of the government’s How to Rent guide (in England).
  • A gas safety certificate.
  • Details of the deposit protection scheme.
  • The Energy Performance Certificate.
  • A copy of the tenancy agreement

You should also ask about:

  • Contact details for the landlord/agency and an emergency contact number.
  • Which companies are currently supplying gas/electricity or how to top up a meter.
  • An inventory list of furniture and fittings that come with the accommodation agreed with the landlord/agency and the condition they are in at the beginning of the tenancy.
  • How to report maintenance issues and who will repair them.
  • A record of any electrical inspections.
  • When the boiler was last serviced.

If your tenancy application is accepted and you are happy to go ahead, you should agree a tenancy start date with the landlord or letting agent.

Once you’ve got a signed copy of your tenancy agreement, make sure you keep it in a safe place – it’s a legally binding document and contains important information about your and your landlord’s rights and responsibilities.

If you are worried about housing, or having any questions about finding somewhere suitable to live, you can contact us by emailing or via the live chat on our website.

We are online Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm (closed on Bank Holidays). You can leave us a message outside of these times and we’ll get back to you.