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How to get broadband in a rented home - contracts, monthly broadband, and more

To Let sign

Despite its importance to modern life, internet access can easily be overlooked when hunting for a house or flat to rent.

But broadband is something that we should be considering when searching for a new home. Not only is there the question of whether the available broadband speeds are suitable, but you also need to think about contract length, cancellation fees, and unexpected costs.

Time spent researching now can help avoid problems later on, and potentially save you money.

Broadband in rented homes: the key points

  • Choose a contract that fits your rental agreement; short-term contracts are available if you need broadband for less than 12 months.
  • You can take your current broadband deal with you when you move.
  • Ask the landlord or agent if there's already a phone or fibre line in the property, and get permission if you need to have a new line installed.
  • Some rentals include broadband but check that it fits your needs and, if not, whether you are free to switch.
  • Mobile broadband can be a suitable alternative to fixed-line broadband services.

Home rentals and long broadband contracts

Many broadband contracts (and most of the best deals) have a term of 18 or 24 months, which can be longer than the lease on a rented home. To avoid getting stuck paying for a broadband service that you no longer receive, or being hit with a cancellation fee, planning is necessary.

If you think you’re likely to carry on using the same ISP, investigate your provider’s procedure for moving the broadband when moving home so you know if it will be easy to carry the service over to another property and how much it may cost. You can also read more in our guide on how to switch broadband.

If you’re living with flatmates bear in mind that circumstances can change; that ultra-cheap 24-month contract may not be such a great deal when you have to pay an early termination fee.

If you do end up having to cancel a contract early make sure to speak to the provider to understand exactly what it will cost. If there’s a fair amount of time remaining, the cancellation fees can be expensive.

You may also wish to consider a broadband service on a short term contract. These can be rolling monthly, three or six-month contracts, or student broadband deals designed to fit around term times.

Short contracts can avoid the potential issues of a longer-term deal, but you will probably end up paying more compared to a longer-term commitment.

Here are some of the best short-term broadband deals currently available:

Dynamic deal panel

You’ll usually need to pass a credit check to sign up for a broadband deal. If that’s a problem, you’ll find a few providers offering broadband without a credit check.

Does your home have a phone or fibre line?

Unless you get wireless broadband, you will need some kind of line running into the property to supply internet access. This could be a BT telephone line, Virgin Media cable, or fibre optic wire.

Check with the letting agent that a phone or fibre line is present. It's not usually a huge problem if there's no infrastructure in place, but you’ll need to look at the cost of installation or the availability of other options in the area.

If work is required to install a line, always check with the landlord first.

Some properties may have a deactivated telephone or broadband line. You may have to pay to get it reinstated, and waiting for an engineer could delay installation for weeks. For more information, read our guide to broadband installation times.

Some broadband providers offer free setup but this will not always cover a line installation or activation of a dormant line.

Want broadband but don't need a phone? There are providers offering broadband without a phone line, but most of these still require a line of some sort for the broadband service.

Does your landlord already have a broadband contract?

Some properties come with broadband, which can look like a great deal on paper. But make sure to find out what exactly this includes because if your landlord’s chosen broadband service is too slow or has a tiny download limit, you may have to dig into your own pocket.

Once again, make sure to investigate thoroughly and ascertain whether the bundled broadband will suit your needs, and what you can do if you want to install your own. Like any utility, everything should be simple, but it’s worth taking the time to ensure you don’t run into a problem down the line.

There may also be security concerns. If you do not have control over the Wi-Fi router, you may wish to take extra precautions — such as a VPN service — to reduce the risk of your online activity being monitored.

Watch out for broadband black spots

Despite the reliance that so many of us have on broadband it isn’t yet fully available across the entire country, particularly in more remote areas. Certain postcodes won’t be eligible for the faster lines, or certain phone lines won’t have been enabled for fibre services yet.

To check coverage in your area you can use the postcode search function on the Broadband Genie comparison tables.

What are your alternatives?

If you face a long wait for broadband installation or can’t get the service you want, it isn’t the end of the world.

Mobile broadband at home is becoming more popular now that 4G and 5G are widely available and very fast.

You can use a mobile phone with tethering USB or Wi-Fi dongle, or mobile broadband router. However, outside of the major cities, you may well find that mobile broadband doesn’t suit your needs.

Even after 5G coverage becomes widespread don’t be surprised if the service isn’t up to scratch as performance can be affected by many factors such as weather conditions and local network traffic.

And if you are using a mobile contract make sure that your data plan will provide a sufficient amount of data allowance; unlike fixed-line home broadband, you will not find loads of deals offering unlimited mobile data.

This can be a problem because while web browsing and email use very little data, video streaming and downloads can quickly consume a large amount of bandwidth. Check our data usage guide for more details.

However, there are a few mobile broadband packages that include unlimited or very high data usage limits. Here are a few of the best deals currently available: 

Network Monthly £ Setup £ Data limit Contract Device
Three £20 £0 UNLIMITED 24-mo 5G Hub Buy now
EE £45 £50 500GB 18-mo 5GEE Router Buy now
EE £50 £50 UNLIMITED 18-mo 5GEE Router Buy now

Alternatively, there are always public Wi-Fi hotspots, which can be enough to get by on if your internet usage is fairly low. Universities will provide free internet on campus, or libraries and cafes can be great places to go if you only surf online occasionally. This is only really a short term or emergency solution, though.

Comparing broadband deals for rented homes

Once you’ve decided what kind of broadband is right for your home, we have everything you need to compare internet deals and find the best package. Use our handy comparison tables to quickly filter deals by specific criteria, factors such as free installation, providers, fibre and more, to prioritise the features that matter most.

A good starting point is entering your postcode below - or use our checker tool to see what’s available in your area:

Broadband Genie postcode checker

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Once you’ve entered your postcode, you’ll only see deals available to that address. We partner with SamKnows in order to bring you the most accurate information possible (see our privacy policy for further details).

Or call our Ofcom accredited advisors on 0800 4661 043 for impartial recommendations from thousands of deals.

Matt Powell

Meet the author:

Senior Editor

Matt Powell, Broadband Genie's Editor, has been with us since 2009. A lifelong tech enthusiast, he has 20 years of experience writing about technology for print and online.

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