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How much time does it take to secure a rental property in London?

How much time does it take to secure a rental property in London?

You’ve found your ideal property in your best-loved borough, made a successful offer, and agreed terms with the landlord – but you can’t call it home just yet. Before you can collect the keys and move in there are some final steps to take as part of the rental process: provide the necessary documents, sort your references, sign the tenancy agreement, and pay the deposit and rent in advance into the landlord or estate agent’s account.

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Master all the steps needed to rent a home in London – including how to secure a property, understanding deposits, and checking the tenancy agreement before signing. Updated March 2024.

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So, how long will this take? As a rule of thumb, this will all take around two weeks to complete from you offer being accepted to moving in, provided the property is vacant – but there are variables to consider that might prolong this process.

References – takes two to three days

To ensure you can afford the rent and can pay on time, the landlord or letting agent will contact your employer to confirm your income if you’re a full-time employee.

If the landlord or letting agent uses a professional tenant referencing company, this process is typically completed entirely online, with a turnaround time of two to three days from receiving the appropriate permissions and documentation.

To prevent these background checks from delaying the process make your referees and employer aware that they will be contacted imminently.

Documents – instant if you provide the necessary documents

Before the start of the tenancy, letting agents and landlords in England are required by law to check that all tenants over the age of 18 who occupy their properties have legal status to live in the UK – known as the Right to Rent Check. This can be completed instantly, provided you supply the landlord or letting agent with the correct documents in person.

Acceptable ID documents for a physical Right to Rent check fall into three categories: List A, List A Group 2, and List B. Some landlords outsource the ID verification element of Right to Rent checks to certified Identity Verification Service Providers (IDSPs).

Have your documents ready that prove to the landlord you have a reliable income, such as employment contracts, pay slips, or letters from their employers confirming their job status and income. Together with several months of bank statements to confirm that you can cover the rent and associated expenses. If the documents are satisfactory there won’t be any delay to the process, and you can start preparing your references.

Signing the tenancy agreement – a few days after the referencing

You’re ready to sign the tenancy agreement, which usually takes a few days to be prepared once the referencing has been passed. Don’t rush this vital step now the big move is almost within sight. Shield yourself from any nasty surprises down the line by diligently reviewing the fine print before signing on the dotted line. If you have any reservations don’t hesitate to request clarification from your letting agent or landlord.


Financial payments – takes a few hours to a few days

Finally, you will be required to pay a deposit to the landlord or letting agent, which will take a few hours or a few days, depending on where you’re transferring the money from. This serves as security for the landlord in case of damage to the property or unpaid rent. Check that the landlord meets their legal obligation to protect your deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it. This ensures that you can get your deposit back when you move out, provided you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement.

You will also be asked to pay the rent for the first months before you move in – which is known as paying ‘rent in advance’. There’s no legal limit on how much rent in advance you can be asked for. You might be asked to pay more if there’s a problem with your credit check or references. Prevent any delays by ensuring that you have sufficient funds in your account when the time comes to make both payments.

Finding your ideal home to rent in London requires patience and an understanding of the process. Expedite your rental journey by making sure you have everything ready – documents, references, and funds – before you make an offer.


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This guide gives you all the detailed information to help you understand renting in London, including:

  • How to decide where to live in London
  • How to find a home to rent
  • How to make a rental offer
  • How deposits work and how much they cost
  • Understanding rental contracts, and how to check your tenancy agreement

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