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A Quick Guide For First-Time Renters In London

Renting a place is one of the major life decisions that you can do. Depending on where you are and on your status in life, there are different requirements that you have to meet before you can be able to rent a place of your own.

London, being one of the major cities in the world is a melting pot of people and the opportunities that it presents make it an attractive place for workers, students, immigrants, and those looking for new opportunities.

If you’re new in London here’s a quick guide on how to rent a place in the city.

Looking for your new home

Before you embark on your property search, ask yourself the following questions:

Where are you looking to rent?

London is the capital of England and its biggest city. You have to decide which specific area will you be looking for a place to rent. Some considerations for this include proximity to workplace or school. You also need to check which train and bus stations are nearby. If you are a family with young children you may also take note of the amenities within the area like grocery stores, cafes, parks, or libraries within the area.

What kind of property do you want to rent?

Depending on whether you will be renting with your family or alone, you have to decide what kind of place you want to rent. Students may consider renting student halls or dormitories. While these places may be cheaper compared to other rentals, do note that some facilities are shared or limited. International students should enquire ahead of their enrolment if their universities can recommend student dormitories.

If you will be moving with your kids, you may need to consider a house or a flat with enough space. Do note that some agents and landlords in London may place a cap on the number of persons that can live in a flat.

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How much is your budget?

Your budget will determine the kind of place that you can also get. Prime locations in central London can be very expensive for an average renter. The areas of South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, and Westminster are considered to be some of the most expensive places to rent. While flats in these areas are pricey, do note that they are also very close to notable places like museums, art centres, galleries, shopping districts, and other famous landmarks in London.

How long do you want the tenancy for?

Your landlord must allow you to rent the property for at least 6 months. Tenancies in the UK often have a fixed term of 6 or 12 months. You can negotiate a longer term with your landlord. In some cases, there are also short-let properties that allow tenancy on a weekly basis only.

Ways to rent a property

There are two primary ways to rent a property in the UK. First is direct from the landlord where you negotiate and deal with them directly. Second and the most common approach is through a letting agent. You can search for properties to rent or buy using various online portals or by visiting the website of accredited property agents.

You can communicate, get the agent’s contact details, and schedule viewings using online property search platforms. Make sure to visit and view the prospective property that you want to rent before signing any contracts. This allows you to see the place and check its condition

When you’ve found a place

Once you have decided on your place to rent, make sure to take note of the following:

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What are the fees involved?

Check and double-check the fees that you need to pay to your agent and landlord. Depending on the terms and conditions that you agreed upon, a deposit of up to 6 months may be required. There may also be fees for reserving a property. Most UK property agents prefer to transact using via UK banks. For foreigners moving into London, having a UK bank account on hand will help speed up the process.

Prepare your documents

Identity verification and checks are part of the process of renting in London. Agents require that you provide proof of identity, income, and other status. For foreigners, additional references and documents may be needed. Make sure to prepare your employment records, immigration status, and proof of savings or income.

Check what’s included in your contract

Make sure to read your contract and agreement carefully. Landlords may have different preferences over some house rules such as having pets, smoking or adding new furniture. Keep in mind the accounts to be used for your utilities, internet as well as the handling for refuse and recycling.

Moving in

After the agreement is signed and all paperwork have been processed, the keys to your flat will be handed over to you. Make sure that you have a copy of your tenancy agreement which is signed and agreed to by all parties. As a safeguard, make sure to take photos of the place before you move. Take photos of the furniture, the setup as well as the meter readings. Keep a copy of your landlord or agent’s contact details in case of any emergencies or concerns with your place.

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