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How to look for a Place to Rent in… London

London is truly a city like none other. Mixing classic Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian style buildings with newer modern-day glass-laden structures is one thing, but London’s blend between old and new runs deeper than just architecture. 

At its core, London is as much about the lavish as it is the simplistic. For example, for every luxury apartment near Hyde Park, there are plenty of more affordable properties hidden away in boroughs such as Hackney and Ealing

London, for the most part then, is a complex blend of the affluent and the not-so-fortunate.

Where else in the world would you find a row of million-pound houses located next to state-owned properties? Or traders that have been serving the public for 50+ years, rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s newest migrant communities? 

In this guide we will cover how you can look for a place to rent in London, examine the things you need to consider about moving to the UK’s capital and also explain the rental process. 


CONTENTS


Part 1: The Cost
Part 2: The Right to Rent
Part 3: When is the Best Time to Rent in London?

 

Part 1: How to Find Places to Rent?
Part 2: Where to Live in London?
Part 3: Things to Note About Life in London

 

Part 1: First Steps
Part 2: Bills & Management
Part 3: The End of Tenancy 

 

The First Things to Consider

In this following section we will cover the first things that we feel you need to consider when looking for a place to rent in London. We will take a look at the cost of renting in the capital, addressing when is the best time to move, and also looking at the visa-related legalities of moving to London from abroad.
 

The Cost

Undoubtedly, one of the first questions many have about renting in London is whether or not they can afford to live there. It’s no secret that London is one of the most iconic cities in the world, and as such, it is one of the most desirable places to live in the UK, especially if you’re new to the country. 

However, London’s desirable status and sought-after tag doesn’t come cheap. London is an extremely competitive and in-demand market which of course means that property prices in the capital are vastly higher than the average UK price. Therefore, it’s no surprise that renting in the capital can also be prohibitively expensive unless you’re financially prepared.

While the prices do change based upon what you’re looking to rent and most importantly, where you’re looking to rent, the average rental price for a 2-bedroom apartment in London is around £1,900. Meanwhile, renting in another UK city such as Hull, could cost you as little as £412.

Beyond the cost of the rent per month, it’s also a good idea to consider that in order to rent most places in London you will need a tenancy deposit. 

While you do not need to pay a holding deposit to secure the property, a tenancy deposit is used as a sort of security guarantee to ensure that the landlord is covered in the case of a rental dispute or damages to the property. Once you have ended your tenancy, the landlord or the letting agent managing the property is required by law to return your deposit.

Thanks to legislation in 2019, deposits for rental properties in London and England have been capped at 5 weeks worth of rent. As a result of the deposit cap you can now more accurately budget the total upfront cost of renting a place in London… just don’t forget to include your bills as well!

If you’re looking for where to live in London, please see our ‘Location, Location, Location’ section below.
 

The Right to Rent

In order to rent a place in London or anywhere in England you need to prove that you have the legal ability to do so, this process is known as the ‘Right to Rent’.

Introduced as part of the Immigration Act of 2014, the Right to Rent is a really important act that aims to target illegal immigration and the housing of illegal immigrants in the UK. 

For a tenant to be able to rent a property successfully they must show proof that they have the legal right to be in the UK. To do this, tenants must show their landlord or letting agent identity documentation that confirms their stay in the UK is legal.

Documents that can be requested are as follows:

  • A valid UK driving licence & original UK birth certificate
  • A valid passport

If don’t have a UK birth certificate or UK passport, then you will need the following:

  • A valid passport and visa or Biometric Residence Permit that outlines your duration (or conditions) of stay in the UK.

The Right to Rent check must be carried out on each and every person who wishes to rent a property, regardless of whether you were born in the UK or not. 

In most circumstances you can prove that you have the right to rent when you are going through the renting process with your letting agent or landlord.

However, should you wish, you can also skip this step by registering via the Government’s online right to rent portal. 

Please note that the Right to Rent is only applicable to London and the rest of England. You do not need to prove your right to rent in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
 

Visas

If you’re planning to rent in London but currently live outside the UK, the chances are that you’ll need some sort of visa before you can really begin to start searching for a place to live.

For foreign nationals, having a visa is a vital part of England’s Right to Rent test as the visa determines how long you’ll be able to legally stay in the UK. 

Visa’s can come in a myriad of different types and durations depending on your circumstances. Each visa will have their own rules and regulations on what you can or can’t do during your stay in the UK.

Please visit the UK Governments official website to learn more and see if you need a visa to enter the UK.

Generally speaking, you will not be able to rent a property in the UK unless you have a valid visa for the duration of your stay. However, should you be a visitor (and a biometric passport holder) from one of the B5JSSK countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States) who is not a visa holder, you’ll automatically be granted leave to enter the UK for a maximum period of six months and have the Right to Rent a property in London and the rest of England.

 

When is the Best Time to Rent in London?

Due to its size and the number of properties on the market, places in London are available to rent throughout the year. 

However, if you wish to avoid the busy period it’s generally a good idea to look for properties outside of the summer months (dates). The summer is often seen is a the prime time for property renting for a number of reasons such as: 

  • University graduates moving out of their parents home or university accommodation.
  • Young families looking to move while their children are on holiday.
  • University students are aiming to rent properties for the start of their first/new semester.

 

Location, Location Location

Once you’ve decided that you would like to rent a place in London, it’s now a good time to consider where in the capital you would like to move to. 

Thankfully, London is a diverse city with several different types of people, and cultures from all over the world. So, regardless of where you choose to live in the capital, you’ll always find a pocket of society that makes you feel more at home. However, that being said, where you live can play a part in the type of experience you have in London. As such, over the course of the next few paragraphs we will attempt to clarify what makes each area of London unique and why you should consider it. 

Before we break down each region though, it might be a good idea to mention How & Where you can find places to rent in London first!

 

How to Find Places to Rent in London?

While finding an affordable place to rent that ticks all your boxes in London might be hard, finding where flats, houses and apartments are available to rent is the easy part. 

One of the simplest ways to begin your search for a rented property in London is to look online, and what better place to start than with Residential People?

On Residential People you’ll be able to see thousands of rented properties from hundreds of estate agents throughout the capital. 

In addition to simply searching for properties and looking at static images, with Residential People you can even take a virtual 360 degree tour of the property. Virtual tours are a great way to provide yourself with a greater sense of place, scale and understanding of the property before physically seeing it in person. If you happen to be overseas, then viewing a property virtually allows you to quickly see if the property is right for you and perhaps even start renting it before you have arrived. 

Along with virtual tours and a comprehensive number of listings, Residential People also features energy efficiency rating filters that let you search for properties based upon their energy performance certificate. 

Lastly, Residential People’s unique Map View feature shows you the average prices of properties throughout the capital at a glance, allowing you to see which areas are right for you. Once you have found the price range that’s right for you, you can click on a price tag to expand it and see more information about individual properties in that area.

Of course, should you not prefer to use a portal portal, you can also take advantage of marketplace-style listing websites such as Facebook and Gumtree which tend to have rooms and apartments to rent, directly from the landlord themselves. Typically, renting from the landlord directly also tends to work out slightly cheaper for you as the landlord doesn’t need to cover the cost of paying an agency to find tenants for the property. 

More often than not, marketplace listing websites are more geared towards the house sharing model whereby you’ll be renting a room inside a house with other occupants. However, that isn’t to say that you can’t find single family homes also from these sites as well. 

Beyond browsing for properties online, you can also directly approach one of London’s many estate agents in person by simply visiting their branch. While approaching in-person is a bit of a dying art nowadays, it still serves as a good way to learn more about the average asking price of a particular area in London.

 

Where to Live in London?

Now that you know how to find properties to rent in London, it’s now time to see where you can rent in London. 

As mentioned previously, London can be an expensive place to live in, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t pockets of affordable areas located throughout the capital. 

In the following sections we will outline some of the benefits of living in different parts of the capital and what to expect when living there.

 

North London

Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in N7 North London

North London is an exemplary case of London as a multicultural hotbed of a city that is both affordable and prohibitively expensive at the same time. 

North London covers a wide range of different ‘boroughs’ (eg. smaller areas – similar to a district) including the more affordable and down-to-earth boroughs of Hackney, Haringey, and Enfield. All three of these areas typically feature a range of cheaper restaurants from some of London’s biggest migrant communities such as Turkey and the Caribbean. Housing in these boroughs can be both affordable and expensive depending on the age of the property and the surrounding amenities. 

In keeping with London’s characteristic nature of affordability meets unaffordability, North London also includes the area of Stoke Newington, which is part of the North London section of the London Borough of Hackney. Stoke Newington is a particularly highly-sought after area that features multi-million-pound houses, small independent shops and award-winning restaurants. 

Besides Stoke Newington, North London also includes the very private and affluent areas of Camden and Islington. Both of these two areas tend to feature a range of coffee shops, boutique independent shops and a series of food and clothing markets. Camden Market in particular is one of North London’s most well known markets and the wider Borough of Camden also includes the London Zoo and some of the capital’s most expensive properties. 

 

East London

The Olympic Park in Stratford, East London

East London is possibly the most contrasting, yet appealing part of London as it features everything the city has to offer. Depending on where you choose to live in East London you can have a vastly different experience and opinion of the capital. 

In East London you have everything from the luxurious high-end rental apartments in Canary Wharf and Spitalfields to more affordable former council-owned properties in Barking and Plaistow. Meanwhile, East London is also home to the trendy Dalston and Shoreditch areas that have become a real symbol of East London’s push towards gentrification in recent years. 

If you’re looking for places to rent in East London expect competition and to pay slightly more than you might have expected. However, in return, you’ll have a centrally located home that is within touching distance to much of the city’s traditional working districts, as well as being surrounded by some of the UK’s highest rated restaurants.

 

South London

The O2 in North Greenwich is one of South London’s most famous landmarks

For first timers in London, you will no-doubt love the variety that South London provides, delivering somewhat affordable properties that remain within close proximity to the city’s main business districts. Some of the best areas to live in South London include Brixton, Clapham and Greenwich.

In addition to pockets of affordable properties to rent scattered throughout South London’s many areas, South London also features one of the capital’s best and well known food markets, Borough Market. Situated close to London Bridge Station, Borough Market is  one of London’s most beloved food markets and is home to many popular restaurants, startup companies and popup stalls.  

 

West London

The iconic Natural History Museum in SW7, South Kensington

West London is a vast part of the capital that covers everything from the exclusive and affluent districts of Kensington and Knightsbridge, to more working-class and lesser-known areas such as Acton and Hounslow

As a result of its vast size and the wide range of districts and boroughs within the region, West London is a bit of a mish-mash when it comes to finding places to live. 

Quite often with West London, the quality of the area (in regards to crime rates and the types of retail and leisure options available), are more or less determined by your budget.

Affluent boroughs of West London tend to feature internationally known designer brands, while the less fortunate areas tend to be focused more on necessity rather than luxury shopping, with a greater emphasis on supermarkets and bargain stores.

If you have no limit to your budget then renting in some of West London’s most sought after areas such as Notting Hill, affords you with large, and stunning properties, the likes of which you would typically associate with the capital.

If you’re on a budget however then some of West London’s areas such as Ealing and Shepherds Bush may be appealing, especially if you have already lived in a busy and dynamic urban city beforehand. 

 

Central London

The London Eye in London SE1

When most people think of London and the UK in general, the chances are most of the features and landmarks that come to mind will be in Central London and in particular, the borough of the City of Westminster.

Unsurprisingly then, the cost of renting a place in Central London is often much more expensive than any other part of the capital, with the City of Westminster’s median rent for a 2-bedroom home sitting at £2,659 (vs £1,450 for London as a whole). However, should you be able to afford the high rents, you’ll be able to experience some of the finest high-end homes that London has to offer. 

In addition to stunning luxury homes which can cost as much as £76,000 per month, Central London also benefits from being in close proximity to many of the capital’s most iconic landmarks including Piccadilly Circus, The London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. 

Despite being known as ‘Central’ London, the area tends to encompass parts of North West, East, West and South West London as well.

 

Suburbs

Houses on the River Thames in Kingston upon Thames

If you don’t mind commuting to work via trains or on the outskirts of the world famous London Underground network, then it might be worthwhile to consider some of London’s suburbs as well. 

Often referred to as ‘Greater London’, the suburbs of London offer a much more affordable option than living in the heart of the capital. Typically, the rental price you would pay to live in parts of Greater London is far lower than inner-parts of the capital. As such, you can choose to either save money or move into a comparatively much bigger property for the similar amount you would pay in inner-London.

As Greater London is extremely vast there are many places to choose from including the likes of Croydon, Richmond and Willesden Green. All of these areas are within 30 mins distance to Central London, while retaining rental prices far below the sometimes extortionate figures quoted for famous inner-London locales.

 

Things to Note About Life in London

As with most cities around the world, living in London does come with its fair share of downsides and difficulties. Depending on your lifestyle and where you live, these may not be a major concern, but it would be remiss not to at least briefly acknowledge them here.

Compared to many cities in the United States such as Chicago, New York or Detroit for example, crime in London is relatively low. However, that isn’t to say that London is a completely crime-free place. 

Depending on the time of day, and the area you live in (South, East and North London all have parts of them that have ranked in London’s top five dangerous areas for example) you may encounter criminal activity from time to time. 

Thankfully in London the majority of the crime tends to affect those who are already involved in criminality at some level, and in the case of London’s biggest epidemic, knife crime, it typically affects younger children/adults who are associated with gang members. 

Beyond knife crime and basic crimes however, in the more affluent areas of London you should also be vigilant of the potential threat of terrorism. As one of Europe’s premier cities, London is unfortunately a target for terrorism and is something that you should be aware of. While terrorism is impossible to predict and ultimately to prepare for, it should be something to keep in mind if you are looking to rent in London and have never lived in a busy, internationally-known metropolis before.

 

The Renting Process

So now that you’re familiar with different parts of London and the preliminary information regarding moving to the UK’s capital from abroad, it’s now time to take a closer look at the renting process.

In the next three parts we will go over the first steps of renting a property, the costs and maintenance while renting and lastly, what happens when your tenancy ends. 

 

Part 1: The First Steps

 

What Types of Rental Contracts are Available?

In London a rented property is granted under two main forms of contract, either an individual tenancy contract or a joint tenancy agreement. 

As the terms suggest, an individual contract is a legally binding agreement between an individual tenant and the landlord, while a joint tenancy agreement holds the whole group responsible for the property and collective rent payments. If you’re renting a property with your married partner or close family then it is not too important which type you choose as in these circumstances, the rent is typically split between earners within a household. 

However, if you’re renting with friends or strangers, then it’s generally a good idea to ask for an individual contract instead. 

With an individual contract, if one person leaves the house (i.e. breaks their contract) or pays their rent late, the other tenants will not be held liable for that person’s actions. Under an individual agreement a good tenant will not be unfairly punished by the actions of their fellow tenants.

Beyond the above forms of tenancy contracts, there are also four types of tenancy agreements in England. However, it is likely that you might come across only two of them when looking to rent a place in London.

 

Tenancy Types

 

Assured-Shorthold Tenancy

The most common type of tenancy in privately-rented properties in London is an Assured-Shorthold Tenancy (AST). 

If you have an AST tenancy, you will either have a private landlord that you deal with directly or your rented home will be looked after by a property management company that either owns the home or manages it on behalf of the landlord.  

Most AST agreements have a term limit of between 6 to 12 months and are only given on privately-owned properties where the landlord does not live in the home, and when the rent is less than £100,000 per year. If the rent is more than £100,000 a year, the tenancy cannot be considered as an AST. 

Under an AST your tenancy deposit must be put in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme which aims to protect your money in the event of a dispute with the landlord. 

With an AST, your landlord must give you 4 months notice if they wish to end your tenancy. 

 

Excluded Tenancy 

The second most common type of tenancy is an Excluded Tenancy. You’re more likely to have an Excluded Tenancy agreement if you live with your landlord or share communal rooms with them such as a bathroom or kitchen. 

Excluded tenancies carry fairly little protection from eviction for the tenant as the landlord is not required to serve you a notice to leave the property, nor are they legally required to protect your deposit like an AST would. 

 

Assured Tenancy 

This tenancy is a rare type of tenancy that is usually granted by housing associations and offers greater protection in regards to eviction. Assured Tenancy is primarily used by councils and housing associations and as such, is unlikely to refer to your type of tenancy in London.
With an Assured Tenancy the landlord does not have the automatic right to repossess the property when the your tenancy term ends, and can only serve you a notice to leave if the rent is unpaid or other tenancy terms are broken.

 

Regulated Tenancy 

The final type of tenancy is another rarely seen tenancy, and one that you will almost certainly not have to encounter. Referred to as a Regulated Tenancy, this is a long-term contract with a private landlord that in most cases, needs to have started before the 15th of January 1989. 

Under a Regulated Tenancy the rent that tenants are entitled to pay must be set and deemed to fair by the Valuation Office Agency

 

How Long is my Tenancy Agreement?  

Tenancy agreements serve the purpose of giving the landlord a financial guarantee of rent being paid on their property for a set period of time, while also giving the tenant enough freedom and flexibility to leave the agreement if their situation changes. 

Most tenancy agreements you’ll find online tend to last either 6 months or a year. However, should you wish, you can ask for a longer lease as there is no maximum limit on the number of years that you can rent a privately owned property for. 

In the event that you’re planning to rent the property for more than a year at a time, it is generally a good idea to ask for a break clause to be inserted into the contract as well. With a break clause you can more easily leave the property should your situation change (e.g. new job, marriage, children etc)

 

Fixed-term Tenancy 

Most AST’s tend to be on a fixed-term tenancy-basis, whereby the tenant must reside and most importantly, pay the owed rent for the property for the duration of the contract. 

A fixed-term tenancy can only be ended early in the event of a break clause or if the landlord agrees to cancel the contract and allow you to move out.

Once a fixed-term tenancy has passed its fixed-term, the tenancy will automatically become a periodic tenancy.

 

Periodic Tenancy

Commonly referred to as a ‘rolling’ contract, a periodic tenancy is an agreement that runs on a month-to-month basis (or similarly agreed short-term policy). Periodic tenancies often take place once a successful fixed term has expired, and unless otherwise stated by the landlord, the rental price and all the same terms and conditions of the original tenancy agreement will continue to apply.

 

Furnished or Unfurnished?

Furnished properties are often desired by new expats and those moving into their first home, and are a great way to start your London rental journey while keeping your initial costs low.

With a furnished apartment, virtually anything that you would need to live comfortably should be provided by the landlord or their management team prior to moving in. Items such as refrigerators, washing machines will be included, but the landlord will also supply furniture too such as beds, sofa’s drawers and wardrobes. Depending on the landlord, a fully furnished property might also include plates, cutlery and glasses – making the place ready to move in from the moment you get the key.

Unfurnished properties meanwhile refer to the complete opposite. While many ‘unfurnished’ homes do come with white goods (fridges, freezers and washing machines) this is at the discretion of the landlord and as such must be agreed on before signing the lease. As for the rest of the furniture, you will be expected to buy your own as & when you wish.

 The initial cost of renting an unfurnished home can be more expensive than renting a fully furnished one. However, in the long term, renting an unfurnished property can work out cheaper as you won’t be held liable for any damages or wear and tear to the products.

Furthermore, renting an unfurnished home allows you to add a bit of your own character by choosing furniture that represents your tastes.

 

Viewing the Property

A property viewing is an absolutely vital stage of the rental process as it is your time to physically see the property for yourself and examine if it matches up to the promotional photos and videos you may have seen online.

During a property viewing you should take this opportunity to ask the landlord or the agent showing you around the property many things about the house and the neighbourhood. Should you discover anything damaged or in need of repair, now is the time to ask the landlord if they’re willing to fix it.

Some of the key areas you should inspect and ask about include:

 

The Exterior

While it might technically be the first thing you see when viewing a property, many people often overlook the outside of a property when they’re doing a viewing as their focus is typically on the condition of the interior of the property. However, it’s generally a good idea to carefully check the exterior of the property as well as doing so could potentially reveal any issues that could cause a problem down the line. 

When checking the exterior be sure to look for leaking gutters and pipes, as well as any cracked window frames. If the property has a garden, it’s important to clarify who will be responsible for maintaining it, and if it is shared by another flat above or below the property (depending on the type of property you’re renting of course!) 

In the event that the property is an apartment, it’s also a good idea to confirm who is responsible for the common areas, and to understand if the building has any sort of professional onsite management.

 

Look for Signs of Infestation

Dealing with ants, mice, cockroaches and other pests is never nice, so why put yourself in that position if you don’t have to.

While most reputable agencies will never willingly show properties that have a considerable infestation problem, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be on the lookout. Be sure to check for any mouse droppings or potential entry spots that could harbour rodents and unwanted animal guests. 

On the subject of pests, it’s also a good idea to ask the landlord or letting agent when the place was last treated, as this can give you a better understanding of any problems that might be lurking underneath the surface. 

 

Be Weary of Mould

Mould is a particularly nasty problem that tends to affect ground level and badly ventilated homes.

Beyond being visibly unappealing, mould is seriously hazardous to your health and can lead to numerous respiratory complications including coughing and asthma. 

Be on the lookout for damp and almost wet walls, as well as black or green spots randomly growing. Mould and damp are commonly found in areas such as the kitchen and bathroom, but once the spores are in the house, they can spread to virtually anything, including clothes, books and particularly furniture. 

Click here to learn how you can prevent mould in your home

 

Check Appliances and Fittings 

As mentioned above, whether you choose an unfurnished or a furnished home, the chances are that the property will still contain some white goods (i.e. Fridge, freezer and washing machine). 

If you see any appliances during your viewing it’s a good idea to clarify if they will be included with the property. In the event that some appliances are set to be included, you should also ensure that they are clean and in good working order. If for whatever reason appliances are broken or in a disgustingly bad condition, you should ask the landlord for clarification about whether they’ll be replaced or not before signing your rental contract. 

Beyond appliances a property viewing is also the best time to test the shower/bath as well as the hot and cold water taps. You should also pay attention to the water pressure volume as well as whether all the light switches work.

 

Maintenance & Repairs

Up until now we have just mentioned that in the event that you find something damaged during the viewing, you should ask the landlord to have it repaired, replaced or removed prior to you signing the tenancy agreement. However, you should also use the property viewing as a chance to ask the landlord who is responsible for maintenance works throughout the property. 

Most landlords prefer to either manually do repair and maintenance work themselves or hire labourers to handle these duties for them. Conversely however, some landlords might stipulate that any and all repairs in the property are your responsibility as the tenant. As such, to avoid any misunderstandings of who takes responsibility for what, it’s a good idea to ask such questions of the landlord or letting agent at the viewing.

 

Consider your Safety & Security

Before you view a property it’s always a good idea to visit the area first to see if it’s right for you and whether or not you feel safe and comfortable with your surroundings. 

Ideally, when viewing a property in an unfamiliar area you should take the time to study the surrounding neighbourhood both in the day and the night to get a full picture of what your surroundings are truly like.

One of the best ways to get an unbiased opinion of the local area is to ask people you meet in the area what they think about the neighbourhood. A random business owner or person on the street will likely have no vested interest in whether you decide to rent a property or not, as such, their opinion is likely to be more  genuine than anyone else. Quite often, local residents will also know the area better than you, the landlord and sometimes even the agency themselves. 

As well as the wider neighbourhood it’s a good idea to ask the landlord and letting agent who lives next door, (as well as below or above you if you’re looking for a flat) to get a better understanding of what type of person your neighbours could potentially be.

In the event that the current tenant is present in the property when you go to view it, you should also ask them why they are looking to move and whether they have enjoyed their time in the property or not. While a tenant is less likely to severely criticise their apartment in the presence of their landlord, it can still be worthwhile to hear what they have to say.

When checking the exterior and interior of the property, it’s also a good practice to consider your safety as well, double check that the front door is sturdy and secure and that any windows in the property can be opened easily from the inside. In addition, keep an eye out for smoke alarms and CO2 detectors (if any), and clarify if you need to buy batteries for these or are they running via electricity.

 

What Bills are Included?

Speaking of electricity, if you haven’t asked already, a property viewing is also another time to clarify what bills are included in your rent. If the property is managed by a third party company, you should also clarify if you’re going to be expected to cover their fees on top of the rent.

During your viewing you should also ask the landlord or letting agent how they would like the rent to be paid, as well as the date. The easiest way to pay rent is via direct debit, this way you can know exactly what time each month your money will leave your account. 

 

Energy Efficiency Rating

One of the best ways to keep your bills low is to have a home that is energy efficient. At your viewing, you should ask to see a copy of the property’s energy performance certificate (EPC). In the event that the letting agent or landlord doesn’t have the certificate to hand at the viewing, they should be able to provide these to you via email shortly afterwards.  

The EPC is graded on a scale of Grade A to G and reflects how well insulated and energy efficient the property is. The closer to Grade A the less you’ll be spending on your utility bills. 

Click here to learn more about the EPC and how you can find energy efficient properties in London.

 

Part 2: Bills & Management

Once you have found a place to rent in London that you like, you’ll now need to budget for its operating costs. 

In the following section we will delve into virtually every financial aspect of renting a property, so you have a clearer idea of the real cost of renting a property in London.

 

Council Tax

Council Tax is an annual fee that goes towards funding services such as rubbish collection and the local fire stations. 

Council tax is paid by virtually every household to the local council that runs the borough you’re renting in. However, there are discounts of up to 50% depending on your circumstances. If you are classed as a student you can be exempt entirely from paying council tax, but you will need to meet certain criteria to qualify.

The cost of Council Tax is determined by a number of factors including the valuation band for your home and how much your local council charges for that band, as well as whether you can get a discount or exemption.

Please visit any of the links above to find out more about Council Tax and how it might affect your rented property.

 

The Utility Bills

No matter where you live in the world (except maybe with your parents!), bills are sadly part of the rental process and is something that you will definitely need to factor in when looking for a place to rent in London.

In the event that you are looking for a serviced apartment where bills are included, or have made an agreement with your landlord that all bills will be included in the monthly rent, then you can skip this section. For everyone else however, the following information is essential.

In London there are a number of mandatory utility bills that virtually every tenant will need to pay at some point during their tenancy. Falling into this category are electricity, water (both fresh and sewage) and depending on the age of your property, perhaps a gas bill as well.

Unlike other bills such as phone or internet bills, most utility bills don’t come monthly unless you have specifically requested for them to do so. By default, utility bills will be billed quarterly (four times a year), and will require you to pay off a larger sum in one go. However, should you wish, you can ask your respective provider to send you these monthly.

Utility bills are set up typically by the landlord or letting agent and will become active once you have taken the property. In London you’ll be able to switch your electricity and gas (if any) supplier upon moving into the property, and there are several comparison websites out there such as Compare the Market, USwitch and MoneySuperMarket which can help you with this.

Unfortunately you cannot change your fresh or sewage water provider, but thankfully, the costs of these services are comparatively low compared to the other two energy services.

 

Additional Bills

Beyond council tax and the basic utility bills, you will also need to consider what additional bills (such as internet or a phone contract) you may wish to take on during your tenancy.

In some rented properties (especially if you’re sharing a property) internet might already be provided in the property, or better yet, included as part of the monthly bills. However, should it not be included, it’s extremely important that you shop around on comparison sites for the best internet deals available. 

Internet speeds in London can vary depending on a number of factors including where you live, the age of the building and the number of service providers in the area. As such, it’s a good idea to compare internet speeds at a postcode before signing a tenancy agreement. 

When renting a property it’s vital to consider how many contracts you are likely to need during your tenancy. For instance, you’re likely to have a mobile phone contract (you can also shop around on comparison sites for these too!) but you should also ask yourself if you’re likely to create an Amazon Prime account for your delivery needs? 

Perhaps you might also wish to subscribe to Apple Music, Spotify or another music streaming service? Or you’re a movie and entertainment person, if so, will you also subscribe to Netflix or Disney+? 

If you’re moving to London from another country, and already have some of the above subscriptions, it’s a good idea to remember that virtually all of the services listed above will not work outside of your current location. As such, you will either need a VPN or in some cases a brand new account to utilise the services in the UK.

Besides your internet connection and streaming services, it’s also important to remember that you may need to pay a TV License as well. 

Depending on where you come from in the world, you may already be familiar with a TV License or its equivalent in your home country. For those who aren’t, the UK’s TV License is a tax/fee that is set up to fund public broadcasting and in particular, the BBC.

Fortunately, if you only ever use your TV or online services to watch on demand programmes (i.e. not live) then you don’t need to pay for a TV License. However, if you’re a person who likes to watch live TV (even if it’s used via a streaming service like Amazon Prime Video), you must pay for a TV Licence.

 

Electoral Register

Often referred to as the ‘Electoral Roll’ the Electoral Register is a free, but near-mandatory database that allows you to vote and take part in local elections. 

Anyone who is a British, Irish or EU citizen and is over 16 years old must register on the electoral roll unless they have been exempt. Failing to register to vote could result in a fine, and can make it significantly harder to apply for credit or get a mortgage. However, if you are not a British citizen this step might not apply to you. 

Please refer to the UK Governments official website to register and check your eligibility. 

 

Schooling

School

Lastly, if you’re coming to London with children it’s important to remember that you also need to factor in their schooling when renting a property in the capital. 

For first timers in the UK, it’s important to understand that in all but the most extreme visa cases, your child will be classed as a dependent on your application, allowing them to attend a school in the UK. 

There are three ways that your child can be educated in London. Your child can either attend an independent (private) school, state-funded (public) schools or they can be taught at home via private tutoring.

 

Public Schools 

Public schools are state-funded schools that are essentially free to attend and open to children of various ages. 

Please note however, as public schools receive funding from the local government, virtually all public schools in London will have a catchment area policy in place that only permits entry from students who live in the vicinity of the school.

To see which schools are available in your area and their level of performance, please visit here to learn more. 

 

Private Schools 

Also known as ‘independent schools’, private schools do not have a catchment area policy like those found in public schools. Thus, allowing you to register your child in any private school throughout London or beyond. 

As the name suggests, private schools are not state-funded, meaning that in order to operate they need to charge parents for their services. The cost of independent schools can vary from school to school so it’s worth looking at a specific school to see how much they charge. 

Please take a look at the Independent Schools Council’s website for help finding an independent school in London.

To learn more about schooling and the different types of schools available in London and beyond, please visit the Government’s official website.

 

Insurance

The phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” rings true for most things in life, however, when it comes to property and personal belongings it perhaps takes on added meaning.

When renting a property it’s easy to forget that just because you don’t own the property outright, that you shouldn’t insure it and its contents for the duration of your stay 

There are two types of insurance that you should consider when renting. Similar to utility bills, you can take a look at well-known comparison websites to find out who can offer you the best and most comprehensive deal that works for you.

 

Contents insurance

This type of insurance covers all of your belongings within your rented property and insures them against theft as well as damage from fires, floods and even vandalism.

Depending on the amount of your insurance policy, you can either opt for an ‘Indemnity’ type which pays out based upon the age of the item, or a ‘New for Old’ style policy whereby the insurance will cover the full cost of the or a replacement item at current market value. 

 

Tenants insurance

Similar to contents insurance, tenant insurance is a form of insurance that covers the property and items within it. 

However, the main difference with this policy compared to that of contents insurance is that this type also covers accidental damage to the landlord’s contents, fixtures, and fittings. 

 

Property Inspections

Unless you happen to have a very ‘hands-off’ style landlord, you’ll most likely be paid a visit by your landlord to periodically inspect the property during your tenancy.

Your landlord should give you at least 24 hours notice before attempting to inspect the property, and must have been in agreement with you before entering the property. While there is no limit on how many times your landlord can ask to inspect the property, they must do so in a manner that doesn’t constitute harassment, and must be done at a reasonable time of the day.

 

Repairs & Maintenance

As outlined in our previous subsection on maintenance and repairs, it’s important to establish when viewing the property whether you’re going to be solely responsible for maintaining and repairing the property, or will your landlord share the burden.

Typically landlords will cover most maintenance and repair costs, unless there is a suspicion (or acceptance from the tenant directly) that the tenant is responsible for the damage. However, should you be tasked with repairing and maintaining an item in the property it’s important to budget for this in the event of emergencies.

When renting a place in London please discuss in detail with the landlord or letting agent over who bears responsibility for repairing and maintaining the property. By having this discussion before you begin your tenancy, there’s less room for misunderstanding around what things you’re expected to be responsible for as a tenant.

 

Part 3: The End of Tenancy

As mentioned in Part 1, most tenancy agreements can only be ended in one of four ways – either at the end of their fixed-term, during their term (with a break clause), during the ‘rolling’ tenancy period (with sufficient notice from either landlord or tenant) or by being evicted. 

Providing you haven’t broken any of the rules stipulated in your tenancy agreement, your landlord is unlikely to exercise their eviction rights. However, regardless of whether they attempt to evict you or you decide to leave the property of your own violation, at some point, your tenancy agreement will no doubt come to an end – when this happens it’s important to understand what your next moves shall be. 

In the following sections we will cover all of the things you should do before your tenancy comes to an end.

 

Cancelling Bills

Assuming you haven’t been evicted you should be well aware of the end date of your tenancy at your current rented property. As such, now is the time to begin cancelling any existing bills or services you may have in the premises.

If you are in a long contract with a mobile phone, internet or tv company for example, you don’t have to cancel the contract outright. In fact, doing this would often incur a series of penalty fees that could make the moving process far more costly than it needs to be. In these instances you can simply ask your service provider to move the contract to your new address (providing you have another property already lined up). 

Upon contacting your specific provider, your service will either be temporarily disabled until you’re set up in your new home, or simply continue as normal with all future bills being redirected to your new address.

In addition to cancelling or moving services such as internet and television, it’s also a good idea to update the local council as well about your upcoming move. Updating the council means that you’ll no longer be liable to pay council tax on your current property, and instead, will be billed for your new place instead. 

Depending on your provider you may also need to give a notice period in order for them to accept your move request. Please contact your supplier directly to find out if your supplier needs a notice before you move out.

As mentioned above, along with cancelling your bills and services, it’s also a good idea to update your mailing address with any businesses that you have communicated with. Doing so will not only enable you to continue to receive mail and any deliveries that you have arranged, but is also considerate to prevent future tenants in the property receiving your mail.

 

Checking Out

Once you have given notice to your landlord or letting agent, a ‘Checking Out’ day will be booked which will serve as your official moving day.  

The check out procedure is similar to the check-in stage whereby you’ll run through an inventory check with the landlord or letting agent to check the condition of all the inventory listed in the initial inventory report. 

After the inventory check is completed, you’ll then be expected to return your keys to the landlord or letting agent.

 

Getting your Deposit Back

After you have checked-out and returned your keys, the next step is getting back your deposit. 

If you signed an AST then your landlord or letting agent would have kept your deposit in a deposit protection scheme. 

At the end of your tenancy, all you need to do is ask your landlord to return the deposit, and they’ll be legally obliged to do so. However, please note that while the landlord has the ability to take any deductions they require from the deposit (usually as a result of missing rent, damages, or lost items in the home), it’s important to remember that your landlord cannot take any money from your deposit without your consent.

Should you be unable to reach an agreement with your landlord regarding the final deposit amount, you can ask the DPS to mediate your case for you. The DPS will then apply an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process to determine whether the landlord has any right to claim your deposit (and if so, by how much).

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