How Can You Tell If A Rental Property Is Legit Or A Landlord Is Legit?

Picture of landlord reviews in London
Renters' Rights > How Can You Tell If A Rental Property Is Legit Or A Landlord Is Legit?
Ben Yarrow
21 February 2024
29 October 2019


Checking to make sure the place you want to rent is legit should be a top priority.

Here’s 10 top tips and few basic things you should look out for to make sure the next place you rent is legit.


1. Check tenancy reviews on Marks Out Of Tenancy

Seriously, check for any rental reviews.
If there isn’t a review, Google the landlords name, Google the property address.
Maybe someone’s written something somewhere.

Picture of landlord reviews in London


2. Take a builder friend with you when you look around

If you’re planning on paying £1,000 per month to rent this place, over a year that adds up to £12,000.
I know, we’re really good at maths.
But think about it, that’s twelve grand, 12 stacks of £1,000. That’s shitloads of money. If you were going to buy a car for £12,000 you’d probably try and find one of your mates who was ‘good at cars’ to come with you to kick the tyres.
Your home is arguably more important than a car, so take someone with you who knows what to look out for. Dave the Mechanic could save you from buying a rusty banger - find a builder equivalent.

Picture of a dusty builder


Remember: you can rate your landlord on Marks Out Of Tenancy.


3. Ask the landlord why the previous tenants moved out

Does the landlord know?
Does the landlord care?
Did the landlord boot the previous tenants out?

Picture of an old man looking through a magnifying glass


4. Request to see the gas certificate

There are several documents and certificates your landlord legally has to provide you with before you rent a place.
You should check to see if your landlord already has a gas certificate, even before you start renting.
Have a look at what else a legit landlord should give you as you move in here: Why is the Ministry of Housing's 'How To Rent' guidebook so useful?

Picture of the Gas Safe logo


5. Ask to see the EPC

An EPC is an ‘Energy Performance Certificate’.  It lasts 10 years. If the landlord is legit, he or she should definitely have one.
You can check to see if an EPC is legit using this online tool.
There’s some guidance around EPCs from an official, legit site here.
If the landlord doesn't have an EPC, gives you a fake, or doesn't know what an EPC is, you've found yourself an non-legit rental and non-legit landlord.

Picture of an EPC rating logo


6. Speak to the neighbours

You might end up living next to these people, knock on their doors, ask them what the place is like to live in.
What’s the neighbourhood like?
Get a sense for what the surrounding area might be like to live in.

Picture of two front doors


7. Test the smoke alarms

Smoke alarms save lives.
When you’re on a house-viewing, pressing the TEST button on a smoke alarm to see if it screeches in your ears and makes you go cross-eyed for 5 seconds is a small price to pay for your safety.
Has the landlord tested to see if the smoke alarms are working?
Does the landlord care enough about the property or the future tenants?
If the smoke alarms haven’t been tested or aren’t working, this would be an indication that the rental property isn’t legit.

Picture of a fire-figher spraying water on a burning house


8. Check the woodwork around door frames

The woodwork that goes around a door frame is called ‘architrave’.
We’re not sure where or when we learnt that, it’s just another useless gem of information.
But for the purposes of figuring out if a rental property is legit have a look at the woodwork around the door, specifically around the door latch, the door lock and the door hinges.
If there’s recent damage to the woodwork around the lock or hinges, this could indicate the door has been opened using anything apart from a key.
Are the door hinges screwed securely into the woodwork around the door frame?
This might not be as important for internal doors, but you want your front or back door to be secure, right?

Picture of an old door with cracked and peeling paint


9. Look for recent repairs to walls

Are there any gaping holes?
Any bits of wall that look like they’ve been recently covered up, replastered, or repainted?
If the rental flat or house has recently been redecorated, ask the landlord when and why it happened.

Picture of a broken window


10. Combine all the evidence, look at all the signs, combine them all.

Finding a smoke alarm that doesn’t work might not be a deal-breaker on it’s own, but combine that with a back door hanging off its hinges, an out-of-date gas certificate and some vague answers about why they previous tenants moved out; and you may have found a dodgy property, not a legit rental and possibly not a legit landlord.