The booming rental market means more would-be tenants chasing each property but there are ways of staying ahead of the competition.

Bob Martin, of Oxford-based Martin & Co, said: “Set a specific date you want to move by, don’t just say you are flexible.

“That way the agent knows you are serious and will be keen to show you properties.

“Also, give a reason for moving. For example, coming to Oxford because you are starting a new job shows intent, whereas ‘I just fancy a change’ rings alarm bells with agencies because it means you may not be serious and could end up wasting their time.”

Prospective tenants are vetted by a third-party credit referencing agency which includes credit history plus references from a previous landlord and current employer.

Mr Martin added: “Be honest.

If you have a county court judgement against you, for instance for non-payment of a credit card, it will be found out and you will be failed automatically but if you are upfront about it, it can usually be resolved.” Anyone not working should make sure they have funds to pay the first six or even 12 months’ rent in advance.

Simon Smith, of Thomas Merrifield, recommends signing up to an agency’s website to receive email alerts about new properties.

He said: “Stay in close contact with the agency. It is the person who phones or emails every day who tends to be the first to hear about a new flat or house.”

For more information, call Martin & Co on 01865 812110 or visit or Thomas Merrifield on 01865 515900 or