Despite its importance to modern life, internet access can easily be overlooked when hunting for a new house or flat to rent.
But with more of us than ever renting rather than buying, 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.
If you are ready to buy now then click the link below to check out some of our best short-term deals for renters:
Home rentals and long broadband contracts
Many broadband contracts (and most of the best deals) have a term of 12-24 months, which can be longer than the contract 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, forward planning is necessary.
If you think you're likely to carry on using the same ISP, investigate your provider's procedure for switching 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 onto how to switch broadband.
If you’re living with flatmates though bear in mind that circumstances can change – that ultra-cheap 24-month contract may not look like such a good idea when you have to move on.
If you do end up having to cancel a contract early make sure to speak to the provider so you know 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. This can avoid the hassle of a longer-term deal, but you will probably end up paying more per month relative to a longer contract.
And as well as the contract length, remember that 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 line?
Yet some properties may not have active phone lines. You may have to pay to get the phone line reinstated, and waiting for an engineer could delay installation for weeks.
Check with the letting agent that a phone line is present. If there’s no phone it isn’t the end of the world, but you'll need to look at the availability of other options in the area, or the cost of installation. And if work is required, always check with the landlord first.
Remember that while some broadband providers offer free setup this will not cover a line installation or activation of a dormant line. Also keep in mind that while Virgin offers broadband without a phone, it does still need a physical line so installation will still be necessary if the property does not already have a Virgin Media socket.
For more information, you can also check out our guide to broadband installation times.
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 fully 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 - this will filter ISPs to display only those available at your exchange.
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 thanks to the rollout of fast 4G, and soon 5G, and can be utilized either through a mobile phone (if it has tethering enabled), 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 deals offering unlimited mobile data. Web browsing and email use very little data but video streaming and downloads can quickly consume a large amount of bandwidth. Check our mobile broadband data usage guide for more details.
Alternatively, there’s 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. Don’t rely on being able to get by on these though - if you need a connection at short notice it could mean a long trek to the nearest hotspot.
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 on any of our broadband comparison pages. From there you can answer a few brief questions to get results tailored to your needs.
Or call our Ofcom accredited advisors on 0800 4661 043 for impartial recommendations from thousands of deals.