Renting in London: top tips to give you a head start
To say the London rental market is saturated is like saying the British capital is home to a few historic landmarks; it’s a huge understatement. In the last few years, the number of rented homes has edged past the amount that are owner-occupied and the reasons for this are varied – from unaffordable property prices to transient lifestyles.
In a city with around 9 million residents, this means there are a fair few people vying for position in the rental market. To compound the issue, anyone moving from another country must also contend with head scratch inducing rules and regulations.
Guide to Renting in London £14.99Add to cart
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 May 2023.
Fear not, we’ve come up with some top tips to help you navigate the vast and daunting ocean that is the London rental market.
Don’t waste valuable time schlepping around gaffs that, as lovely as they look, are out of your price range. Review your finances before you start your property search to establish a realistic budget and stick to it – don’t forget to factor in the deposit as well.
2. A month is longer than four weeks
Don’t be fooled by rent that’s misleadingly advertised as ‘per week’.
For example, you’d be forgiven for assuming £300 per week means the monthly rent is £1,200, but you’d be mistaken. To avoid this common mistake, multiply the weekly rate by 52 to calculate the annual total (in this case £15,600) and divide by 12 to get £1,300…easy!
That’s a £100 difference you might not have noticed until it was too late.
3. Estate agents or private landlords?
Knowledge is power, so check that an estate/letting agent is registered with NAEA Propertymark or ARLA Propertymark. These professional bodies act as moral guardians on your behalf, by insisting their members operate ethically.
On the plus side, if you ever have a dispute with the landlord or a serious problem with the property, there’s someone at the end of the phone whose job it is to get issues resolved on your behalf. This is far more convenient and efficient than trying to contact an elusive landlord directly.
While private landlords aren’t regulated, the benefits of renting with them can be appealing: as well as doing away with additional fees, they can be more flexible with their rental terms than agents who typically stipulate that the tenancy extends for six or 12 months.
4. Check your deposit’s protected
You wouldn’t walk up to someone in the street and give them a few hundred quid and expect them to keep it nice and safe for you.
So, make sure the landlord fulfils their legal requirement by paying your deposit into one of the three government-approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes.
If they propose to make deductions from your deposit at the end of your tenancy, you can dispute any you think are unfair for free via the scheme.
5. Tenancy agreement
They say the devil is in the detail and this applies to your tenancy agreement.
So, go through it with a fine-tooth comb before signing, because its contents will impact your liability. Consider the length of the notice period you are required to give, the length of advanced notice the landlord must give you and your rights when leaving the property.
6. Inventory of household contents
Request a comprehensive inventory of household contents that lists everything from the boiler to the blinds and describes the condition of everything on there.
Raise any disagreements you have immediately and ensure changes are made to the document.
Also, take pictures of the entire property, so you are well-placed to dispute any unfair deductions from your deposit at the end of your tenancy.
7. Get help from the experts
Take the hassle out of the rental process by using a relocation agent like Simply London. Having already assisted you with the home search process, we can help you to arrange, negotiate and manage your tenancy agreements from start to finish. These specialist property services complement our school and settling in offerings, enabling us to provide a comprehensive relocation package.