The Red Residential Guide to Renting in London
Most of our prospective tenants at Red Residential are from overseas or outside London, and finding a place to stay in such a big and bustling city can be a daunting prospect. To help you with your search we have put together this helpful 10 step guide to renting in London to ease you through the process. If you have any questions or would like any more advice please feel free to contact us any time by email- firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Where do I start?
The best place to start looking for accommodation in London is on the internet. There are a huge number of lettings websites with lettings listings but below are some of the most popular and useful:
- Gumtree – very good for studio flats in all areas of London. Both agents and private landlords advertise on this site, but some criminals do too so be cautious! (Please read our Staying Safe section for more on this)
- Zoopla – an agents only website for mid-range properties
- Primelocation – an agents only website for higher end properties in more central areas of town
- Rightmove – an agents only website for mid-range properties. Have more in less central areas of the city and outside London.
- Craigslist – very popular in the US but less so in the UK. Good for cheaper properties from both agents and private landlords, but also some scammers too. (Please read our Staying Safe section for more on this)
- Loot – can be good for some cheaper flats but most of what is here is on Gumtree too.
- www.redresidential.com – don’t forget to check us out too!
2. What areas should I consider?
London is a big city which means there is a huge range of property to rent, but with it’s creaking transport system it can take a long time to get around and prices vary hugely from area to area. The things you need to consider when deciding where you want to live are:
- Budget! This is the most important consideration. We would all like to live in Mayfair but it isn’t realistic for most people. Generally the more central the neighbourhood the more expensive it will be. Use the search facilities on the websites above to get an idea of average prices in each area.
- Transport. Were do you need to get to? Are you expecting to work in Kensington? Are you going to School in Bayswater? Travel in London is generally quite slow and expensive so most people like to live as close to their work or school as they can afford to.
- Space. How much space do you need? If you must have a garden and a spare bedroom then you will probably need to be looking further out. If you are happy with just the basics then you may be able to afford to live more centrally.
3. How can I view properties?
Contact the agents or the landlords through their on-line adverts, check if the property they are advertising is available, and if you can arrange a “viewing”. You must always view any property you are interested in before agreeing to rent it (Please read our Staying Safe section for more on this).
The lettings market in London moves extremely quickly so sometime the property you enquire about will have gone already. Don’t worry- if it is an agency you speak to they will probably have something similar to show you or they will take your details and call as soon as they do.
When you view a property ask the agent or landlord as many questions a possible such as:
- availability- when is it available?
- contract- what is the minimum contract?
- deposit- what kind of deposit dose the landlord require? Will it be held in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?
- documentation & references- what does the landlord require?
- furniture & equipment- what exactly (if anything) is included?
- bills- what bills are you responsible for?
- neighbours- who are the neighbours (any noisy students, any noise sensitive families with babies, etc.)?
- neighbourhood- what is it like?
4. I want that one! What do I do?
Once you have seen a property that you like, you have asked all the questions above and more, and you have decided to take it, you need to make an offer. Any price that you have seen a property advertised for is, in theory, negotiable however by how much depends on many factors. If the market is busy (e.g. in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months) then landlords are less likely to negotiate on the price than when the market is quiet in November and December. So you can try offering the landlord less than the asking price but they may well say no.
When you make your offer you also need to be absolutely clear about the following things too:
- contract – what contract length do you want?
- move in date – when do you want to start your contract and move in?
- furniture & equipment – what precisely is included? Will there be an inventory (record of the exact contents of the flat)?
- documentation- what exactly does the landlord require and when?
Once you have made your offer the landlord may agree immediately or may want to negotiate the price or terms.
5. How do I reserve a property?
Once a landlord has accepted an offer the property you will need to pay a holding deposit. This is usually 1 weeks rent and is not refundable. If you change your mind and decide not to take the property then you will loose it.
Generally a property is not taken off the market until a holding deposit is paid and in theory another tenant could take the property even if the landlord has accepted your offer. So a property is not reserved for you until the holding deposit is paid. Things to remember when paying a holding deposit:
- make sure you have agreed and are clear on exactly how long the flat will be held for you
- holding deposits are not refundable. If you change your mind and no longer want to rent the property the landlord will keep it.
- make sure you get a receipt from the landlord or agent, showing the property address, the amount you have paid, the date, the rent agreed, the move in date agreed and all the other details that you have agreed on.
Your holding deposit is then subtracted from your first rent payment.
6. What do I need to provide to the landlord?
Once a holding deposit is paid you will then need to provide the documentation that you agreed on when you made your offer. This may include all or some of the following:
- reference from employer- a letter or email from your work confirming your employment with them. Sometimes landlords will ask them to confirm your salary too.
- reference from your current landlord- if you have been living in the UK.
- bank statements- the landlord may want to see 3 months of bank statements to check that you are being paid your wages and are not in debt.
- bank reference- some landlords ask for a letter from your bank confirming that you can afford the rent.
- ID- all landlords will require photo identification to check that you are who you say you are!
- credit check- some landlords will require you to be credit checked to make sure that you are not in serious debt.
If you have just arrived in London it will be impossible for you to provide many of these items so make sure that you ask the landlord or agent what is required when you view the property.
7. What do I sign?
Before the move in date ask to see a copy of the contract or Tenancy Agreement that you will be signing. Have a good look through it and check that the terms that you agreed when you made your offer are in there. If there is anything you are unsure or unhappy about speak to the agent or landlord immediately as this is a legally binding document and you must not sign anything you don’t understand or aren’t happy with.
8. What and when do I need to pay?
This will be made clear to you when you negotiate your offer with the landlord/agent. Most landlords will ask for 1 month or 6 weeks rent as a deposit and the first months rent in advance. This will need to be paid before or at the time of signing the contract and checking in. If you are using an agent the landlord may ask you to pay the agent in advance then the agent will pay this to the landlord once the contract is signed.
The deposit that you pay must be registered by the landlord or the agent in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This is a government run scheme that will deal with any disputes over the deposit when you tenancy comes to an end. As long as you have paid your rent throughout your tenancy and have not caused any damage to the property you should get your deposit back in full.
Remember that when you pay your deposit and first months rent the landlord will require “cleared funds” before you can move in . Some transfers, especially from abroad, can take several days to clear so make sure that they are cleared in the landlords or agents account by the time you sign the contract.
9. When do I get the keys?!
On the day that you have agreed to start your contract you will meet with the landlord and/or the agent to sign the contract and check in. Your references will have been checked and your money will have cleared. The landlord or agent may carry out an inventory of the property making a note of the contents and condition, but this will have been agreed when you make your offer.
That’s it- you will now be able to enjoy your new property!
10. How do I pay my rent?
This will be agreed when you check in but generally it will be monthly and you will pay by standing order from your bank account directly to the landlord or to the agency.
What happens if I have any maintenance problems?
Call your landlord or agency. You will have discussed this when you make your offer and it should be clear in your contract who is responsible.
Renting in London is usually a safe business however there are criminals operating that will try and take advantage of a few unlucky people. To stay safe when looking for a rental property in London follow these points:
- you must always view any property before you pay any money at all
- never pay any money at all to view a property or to reserve it before you have seen it
- never pay any money at all to someone you haven’t met
- satisfy yourself that the person showing you has the right to rent this property to you. Are they an agent or the landlord- if so prove it
- ask as many questions as you can about the property and the individual showing it to you
- ask for receipts for everything that you pay (holding deposit, deposit, rent etc.)
- use your common sense. If it sounds too good to be true- it is!