If you are taking up the lute it is a good idea to hire a lute before making the commitment to buying one. A few countries have lute hire schemes administered through their national lute societies. The UK has the largest scheme, with over 60 instruments, though because the UK is an island and lutes are often damaged in air transit, it is limited to hirers in the UK and Europe who can collect / courier lutes without air transit.
If you cannot hire a lute from one of these schemes, contact your nearest lute society on the lute societies for advice. Many lute makers or teachers will have a spare lute they can hire out. Teachers will generally be happy to give an initial consultation lesson in which you can try your hand on a lute. Many lute enthusiasts have more than one lute and may be happy to hire or lend one to a beginner - contact your local lute society.
Some lute hire schemes keep sturdy lutes for theatrical hire; contact your national lute society. This can be problematic because good playing instruments are fragile.