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Can I rent in London if I don’t have a UK bank account?

A frequent question we get from clients before their move to London and the UK, is whether they need a bank account in the UK before being able to rent.

It seems like an online research on the topic will give very conflicting messages.

In addition to this, this is the case in a number of countries around the world: you start with a bank account, and then, and only then, are you allowed to rent.

Renting in London without a UK bank account

As with many other things, the rules are different in the UK from many other countries…

The good news is: you do not need a UK bank account in order to rent – in fact, it is the contrary. In most cases, you need a rental tenancy, or let’s say permanent address, in order to open a bank account!

Why is that?

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There are two main reasons:

  1. To be blunt, landlords and estate agents do not care where the rent is paid from, as long as they get paid on time and for the correct amount (beware of currency exchange rates when transferring from abroad into the UK which could amend the final amount paid into the estate agent’s account.)
  2. By law, a UK bank account can only be opened, for traditional banks*, with several proofs of address. The required proofs can only be obtained once someone is a permanent resident in the UK.

*You can find out here which other options you have to open a bank account in the UK with digital banks.

Practically, what does this mean?

 

  1. Most clients will pay their first month of rent and security deposit from their existing bank account in their country of origin.
  2. They would then open a UK bank account within the first weeks of arrival, and pay their subsequent months of rent from their new UK account.

But this is not an obligation, you could pay your rent in the UK from an account overseas all the way if you wish to do so (be mindful of bank transfer fees though!).

Whether you will be paying your first month rent or all rental payments from overseas, check out Wise here – they offer much better currency exchange rates than most banks around the world. And you can even open a UK bank account with them! More details on this here.

Another frequent question is whether you need a visa to rent in the UK: you can find the answer here.

 

Please note
This article is for information only and does not constitute legal advice. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of legislation which is subject to change. The information is correct as of February 2023.

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  • how to make a rental offer
  • how deposits work
  • how to prepare your tenancy references
  • how to check your tenancy agreement before signing
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