Thinking about renting in London but have no idea where to start? You’ve come to the right blog post.
I won’t lie to you – finding the right place that you want to call home is not always easy. It’s not that rentals are hard to come by but all the quality rentals get snapped up quickly so it just takes time, some wit and a lot of patience to get what you’re after.
If you’ve only just moved to London for the first time, or you’re just investigating, here are some basic rules to help you find somewhere to live on arrival.
The first and most obvious option. There are loaaaaaads of different sites out there but the below are by far the most popular and where you’re most likely to find something decent.
- www.spareroom.co.uk is perfect for those looking for a flatshare. It has great search options and is one of the most popular websites for flat hunting in London, though to be able to contact brand new listings you’ll need to pay a small fee. They also have a great mobile app and private messaging system.
- www.moveflat.com is another great option and is also mostly for people who are looking to flatshare. It’s one of the more personal options where people tend to tell you a little about themselves, who they’re looking for and provide lots of photos.
- www.primelocation.com, www.zoopla.co.uk and www.rightmove.co.uk are all real-estate websites which have listings for whole properties to let (i.e. empty houses and flats rather than flat sharing) most often through real estate agents. These are perfect if you’re looking for your own place, but keep in mind that you will need to prove a regular income with at least 3 months of UK payslips and references to pass the checks (or have a guarantor as an alternative).
- www.gumtree.com is a little trickier to use and gets updated too often with the same repetitive ads, but nonetheless it’s a popular option that private landlords often use to avoid paying pricey real estate agent fees. A good way to save some money on fees, just avoid any scams!
Sign up to everything!
Subscribe / email notifications / download the app / check in morning, noon and night. Despite the what can only be described as despicable London rental prices, finding the right place is still incredibly competitive and it’s very much a landlord’s market out there. You need to be on that phone the second you find something that you like to make sure you’re the first to view it.
Look daily and be quick with picking up the phone and arranging inspections or you’ll miss out.
Get your finances in order
If you’re renting in London from an estate agent, you’ll probably be expected to put down a deposit as soon as you see the flat and decide to take it. Make sure you have all your finances sorted before you even go to the viewing.
House shares tend to be a little more flexible especially when you’re replacing an existing housemate. It’s pretty common for you to transfer your deposit to the housemate who is leaving rather than the estate agent, just make sure you inspect the room and house to check for damages, missing inventory etc. before you transfer over their deposit, or else it’ll become your problem to fix/replace/clean.
Protect yourself and don’t inherit other people’s costs
- Ask for a security deposit slip or receipt – landlords are legally bound to register your deposit with a safe deposit agency. You can find out more here.
- Take photos of the house and all the rooms for proof of what it looked like and any issues/faults that existed when you moved in.
- Go through the inventory list with a fine tooth comb and send an email with a list of any discrepancies to the landlord on your first day.
- Take meter readings for the water, gas and electricity on moving day to ensure you’re not paying for other people’s bills
Be flexible with timing
Most rentals in London don’t come on the market until about a month before the move-in date, so you almost can’t find a place any earlier than 1 month in advance. In fact, you’ll find that most places have an available date within two weeks which is perfect for a quick move, but if you want to secure a place ahead of time then be prepared to pay some extra rent.
Find the right location
In the broadest sense, London is often split into South of the river and North of the river. One isn’t better than the other, it’s simply a matter of preferences. Be sure to spend some time in an area that you’re thinking of renting in London to get a feel for the place and make sure you’ll be happy there.
If you’re brand new and have no idea where to start, ask the London New Girl Facebook group members for some help and recommendations!
In the most generalised terms possible, inner West London feels like the beautiful London you see in films, a lot of inner North London is middle-class/yummy mummy territory, East is hipster haven and much more rough and ready, and South is where you’ll find all the Aussies 😉 and is a bit of a mix of the other 3. I say generalised because London literally changes from one street to another. Many streets house million pound properties on one side and social housing on the other. It really does completely depend on the street rather than the borough or area, which is why it’s so important to view your flat before putting any money down.
For more information, check out my related article on Moving House in London
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