Renting for the First Time

Blog cover image holds an image in the centre of a couple in an empty apartment being shown the view by an estate agent. The text on the cover photo reads "Renting for the first time - how to prepare"

So, you’ve decided you’re moving out of the family home. Whether this is because you’re going to college or you feel it’s time, it’s a big step.

Having your own place can bring a lot of freedom, but with it comes financial responsibilities. We’re here to familiarise you on what to be aware of when preparing to move into rental accommodation. Being mindful of some of the common pitfalls can help to make the renting process a lot easier.

At the moment, rental property availability is low, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start renting. It just means that you will need to be more prepared. It is never too early to start making a plan.

Read on to find out things you need to consider when renting for the first time.


You might have an idea where you want to live, so start there – have a look at estate agent’s websites or to get an idea of what rent is charged and for what type of properties. If you’re a student – be sure to check out your Students’ Union and college website for information on accommodation.

Ask yourself, are you going to move in with friends/partner? Or do you want a house share, or do you want a place all to yourself? There are many considerations with this decision alone. If you want a place all to yourself, it’s going to be a lot more expensive than sharing with friends or in a house-share.

If you’re going to live with friends, you’ll need to establish guidelines, such as, a household budget for shared bills and rent, a chore rota and just general housemate behaviours/etiquette. Even if you are the best of friends, and it’s difficult to discuss, you’ll be glad you did it! It’s best to discuss everything before you sign a lease!

The Rent Tax Credit for people paying for private rented accommodation will be increased from €500 to €750 a year from 2024.

The Rent Tax Credit will be extended to parents who pay for rented accommodation for their student children under the Rent-a-room scheme and for ‘digs’. This change can be applied for the 2022 and 2023 tax years.

Saving for your deposit

Once you’ve established where you want to live and who you’ll be living with, you’ll have a good idea of how much the rent will be each month. This means that you can start budgeting for your rent and deposit (deposit = 1 month’s rent).

Test your ability to pay  

Not planning to rent just yet? Start planning now, it will mean that you are more prepared for when you need to rent.

A good way to see how much you can afford is to set aside the expected rent on a regular basis. Typically rent is paid monthly, so start by setting aside what you expect to pay each month on rent. If you are paid weekly or fortnightly, then put aside a smaller amount aside weekly. This is so that it adds up to what you expect to pay for rent each month.

Try this for a few months or as long as you can. Use this opportunity to check if you can comfortably afford the expected rent with your current outgoings. This includes car costs, loans repayments, phone credit or other regular bills. If you find you’re struggling to make ends meet, then you may need to revise your location or living situation or both. You’ll need to find something that’s more comfortable for your finances.

A bonus of starting to test your ability to pay will mean that you have a bank of money to spend on essentials before you move in or to cover the deposit and a couple of months rent as a buffer. Starting the process of planning earlier will help to reduce the risk of being derailed by costly surprises.

Top tip – remember, when budgeting for your rent, most rentals will not include electricity, heating, broadband/TV bills or bins in the rent. These are extra costs to consider and budget for!

Additional costs 

So, you’re all ready to move in, you have a deposit together and have a healthy budget you know you can manage. Check your lease to see if there’s an inventory list of furniture and appliances, if there isn’t, request one. This is important so you and your landlord have written evidence of what is in the apartment/house/room (in a house share) before you move in. This will help to avoid any disputes when you’re leaving or when it comes to repairs.

On top of your rent and deposit, you’ll need some extra money to cover essentials that won’t be provided, these can include:

  • Bedding – a duvet, pillows, and sheets.
  • Kitchen essentials – cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, and glasses (if not provided).
  • A kettle! Most rentals don’t supply these. After a long day of moving, you might want a cuppa, so be sure to have your kettle easily accessible.
  • Don’t forget a trip to the shops to get milk, bread, and whatever essentials you’ll need in the first day or two. You’ll be busy moving and unpacking.
  • If you’re using your own furniture, you’ll need to factor in the costs of a moving van and any people who are helping you move.
  • Cleaning supplies – a sweeping brush, vacuum cleaner (if not provided), a mop, kitchen/bathroom cleaners, and so on.

If you’re going to be sharing your accommodation with friends or a partner, you can discuss and work out what you think you’ll need and can budget accordingly.

Before you sign  

Ask to view the property again before committing to anything. Note any issues such as mould/damp, damage to walls or furniture (take photos) and agree on these with the landlord/letting agent. Ensure that both parties sign that these issues were there before a deposit was paid. Ensure these issues are included again with your lease when you’re signing. This is to avoid problems with your deposit when your lease is up.

And again, before you move any boxes into your new home, take photos of the house/apartment/room. Take specific photos of any issues, such as mould/damp, holes, or dents in walls that weren’t captured as part of the lease. Keep these somewhere safe – even print them with their time stamps and keep them with your lease.

Now that you are equipped with some knowledge and tips, happy renting!

Check out these useful links below for extra information!


Contact Us

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If you have a query for one of our advisers or are struggling with your debts, you can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, or find the contact details for your local office. More information is available on our website.


Disclaimer: This blog does not represent legal advice and is intended for guidance only. If you are concerned about your current or future personal financial situation, then please contact an adviser from MABS. Advisers are available by phone, email and in-person in locations nationwide.

Note: We welcome references to and use of the content in this blog. However, please reference MABS and link said content if you choose to do so.