If you live in London then it’s pretty likely you’ll be renting property at some point. London property is some of the most expensive in the world. This means that renting is usually the most popular option if you want to live in the city. Either you could look to rent an entire house or flat, a studio apartment or a take a room in shared house, living with friends or other professionals.
This doesn’t mean that renting is the worst option, far from it. Renting allows you to explore different areas of the city without being tied to one area for too long. Property prices can be volatile and even if you can afford to buy your own property, this might not be the kind of commitment you want to make.
London is a huge city with a highly mobile working population who are constantly moving around the city, switching jobs and commuting. It’s an exciting place to live but it can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding the right place to rent property and the right property to rent!
There are lots of things you should be aware of when renting in London so we put together a helpful guide of useful tips for anyone looking to rent in London.
London flat hunting tips
Finding a flat in London can be time consuming. Often, properties don’t stay on the market for long so you have to be quick when it comes to requesting viewings and making offers.
Book in as many viewings as possible on the weekends and if your employer allows, ask if you can have flexible hours for the weeks that you are house hunting.
Make sure you have enough money in your savings account to transfer rent or deposits quickly and ensure you also have any references or ID documents in order.
Keep on Top of Your Communications
As you’ll be messaging various agents and viewing lots of different properties, it can be hard to keep on top of viewing times, remember which number belongs to which agent and which properties you’ve viewed that day! Label your emails clearly with a title and always include a link to the property you’re discussing in case you lose track. Save any agents names to your phone and always write everything down in a calendar including viewing times, name of agent or landlord, telephone number, address of property and link to property details.
Make a List of Requirements
As property in London moves quickly, most flat or house hunters have a sense of urgency which can lead to hasty decision making. Whilst London’s fast paced property market can often leave you feeling like you’re in a rush, you don’t want this to push you towards renting a flat you’re not 100% sure about.
One way of making sure you don’t sign up to something you’ll regret later, is to have a list of requirements in their order of importance. It’s unlikely you’ll find a property that gives you absolutely everything you want. Instead, you’ll have to compromise on a few things.
Divide your list of requirements into “essentials” including things you can’t live without. This is the time to be realistic so unless you really can’t live without it – don’t include it in your essential list. List all of your other requirements in order of importance so it’s easier to judge if you’re making too big of a compromise when deciding to put in an offer on a flat.
Get Some Free Help from Experts
If you’re looking for property on big online property portals like Rightmove or Zoopla then you’ll find yourself scrolling through hundreds of thousands of properties. This can take a lot of time, even if you filter properties by price, number of rooms and location.
To narrow your search area down and make it easier to find the right property for you, shortlist one or two areas that fit your criteria in terms of location and price. Once you’ve done this, you can use companies like SnapdU p to do the hard for work you, at no cost to you! SnapdUp give you access to property experts in your chosen areas. These experts can source the best properties on the market that best fit your criteria, as well as find properties before they even come onto the open market – meaning you get to the best properties first!
Insider knowledge can huge advantage when you’re looking to rent in London as it’s such a competitive market.
Write Down Important Questions
When you’re looking for property it’s easy to forget to ask some key questions – especially if you love how a property looks! It’s easy to get carried away in the moment and start imagining yourself living in the space, instead of remembering the practical questions you needed to ask.
Write down a list of the most important things you need to know about a property. Here are some examples of questions that you may want to ask during your property viewings:
- How is the property heated? (many types of basic electric heating system such as fan heating or night storage can be expensive or inefficient to run, especially if the property is not well insulated).
- Who pays for the heating, water, gas and electric bills?
- If there isn’t adequate heating – will they provide space heaters?
- Does the hot water work? Is there an immersion heater? (Sometimes if a property has boiler issued the hot water or heating might not be working well. Turn taps on to check hot water comes out).
- Are the showers fed by electric or mains water? (Electric showers tend to be be less powerful).
- Do all the lights and plug sockets work? (You can easily test the lights or ask to when you’re viewing the property).
- How much is Council Tax on the property? (everyone living in property in the UK must pay Council Tax which is set by the local councils in each area, prices can vary so it’s worth asking).
- Does the area have superfast broadband connections for faster internet access? (If you’re planning on working from home you might need good signal strength).
- Who are the neighbours?
- Who is responsible for upkeep of the outdoor areas?
- Who do you contact in an emergency relating to the property?
- Is there any other available secure storage space? (Sometimes a property has a basement, garage, shed or loft where you can store items).
- Is there parking available and if not, how much are parking permits in the area and where to you apply for one?
- Confirm which goods come with the property. If it’s unfurnished, does that mean you will need to provide your own white goods too, such as a fridge, freezer or washing machine?
- Check for smoke alarms and CO2 detectors.
- Check that the windows and doors can be securely locked and are in good working order.
- Check that there is adequate escape routes in the event of a fire.
- Does the property have any mould or damp areas? This can commonly happen in properties that aren’t heated properly, where residents dry clothes inside without adequate ventilation or in bathrooms without adequate fans or ventilation.
Read Contracts Thoroughly
Before you sign anything, make sure you read any contracts thoroughly. If you’re renting it’s likely you’ll have to sign an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) agreement. These are usually standard templates and protect your rights as a renter, as well as outlining your responsibilities.
Don’t Pay Deposits in Cash
Pay your deposit by card (ideally, credit card) to ensure it’s protected. Ensure the agency you’re using is reputable or if you’re renting from a private landlord, you should ask to see some form of identification (a passport or UK driving license).
Never rent properties that you haven’t seen unless they are being rented by a well known or reputable agent. Ideally, you should always see a property before you rent it but sometimes this isn’t always possible.
Is Your Deposit Safe?
Any deposits taken by private landlords or agencies under an AST agreement must be held by under an approved deposit protection body (a TDP or tenancy deposit protection) within 30 days of their receiving it from you. There are three approved bodies in England and Wales and their designed to protect the deposits of tenants but also the rights of landlords.
If your landlord wants to hold some (or all) of your deposit back and you don’t think this is fair, you can dispute the matter with whichever TDP holds your deposit. The matter will then be decided upon independently by them.
Finding a Flatshare in London
If you can’t afford to rent a property yourself, or even if you can, you might be looking at the option of renting a room in a shared property, known as a flatshare.
Flatshares are a really great way to meet new people and make friends in London for many reasons. As well as the financial benefits (the more people you share with, usually, the cheaper the rent will be for your individual room), the social aspect of not living alone is one of the main attractions of living in a flatshare. It can feel safer, you instantly expand your social circle and get great tips on the local area!
There are several flatshare websites that can help you find a room in a property with other flatsharers. Companies like Spare Room and Ideal Flatmate specialise in these types of property, providing platforms that help thousands of renters find flatshares every month.
Properties with more than 3 renters are classed as HMO’s (Houses of Multiple Occupation). Large HMO’s are subject to different regulations so if you’re subletting (with permission from the owners or agents) then keep this in mind.
Hopefully this article will help you with your search for property to rent in London. If you’re ready to find for your perfect property, contact us at SnapdUp and start your search!