New academic year, new adventures, new apartment.
I was really looking forward to start this year – also I got accepted to do a placement year at LCC (sooo excited!!!). Nothing did I know about all difficulties that come with renting a flat in London! So here it goes – everything you need to know about private renting in London so you avoid all traps.
Think about all your requirements before starting the search (this will save you so much time).
Budget (what’s your top budget including bills)
Localisation (which areas would you like to live in – personally I recommend southbank (from Waterloo to Canada Water).
Commute (do you need a tube in a walking distance?)
Flat type (how many bedrooms/bathrooms?, how many people are you renting with? Which Floor (I wouldn’t recommend lower ground nor ground floor. Heating-wise the best option are the floors in the middle that way you are getting heat from the floors below and above you. Also lower ground can have humid and moist problems.)
Length (how long would you like to rent the place for? It is always best to have a break close in the middle of your contract that allows you to move out without any additional costs if something goes wrong – ex. 1 year contract with 6 months break close)
When (when are you ready to move in)
Prepare your documents in advance
Proof of studies (Student ID scan + a letter from uni confirming you are a student)
Proof of address (any proper letter addressed to your name – can be bills, bank letters etc.)
Bank statements (3 months long bank statements)
Reference (reference letter from tutor or previous landlord that states you will be a good tenant)
Proof of employment (payslip if you are working)
You need a UK based guarantor – a person that will guarantee that if you fail to pay they will cover your payments. The estate agency will ask for documents from your guarantor (ID, Bank statements, proof of ID). If you do not have a guarantor you will have to pay 6 months upfront. Alternatively, you can hire a guarantor (housinghand) but check with your agent first coz not everyone accepts it.
Check the agency
It is always best to only use certified agencies. Look for these signs:
Check all agency fees:
Normally it includes – agency fee, referencing fee (for checking your documents), offer fee (if your offer is not accepted this should be repaid back to you), cleaning and preparing fee.
Usually agencies have a fixed fee per place or per flat (ex. Foxtons charges £400 per property and all costs mentioned above are included in this).
There is always an extra charge for deposit – this is usually an equivalent of 6 weeks rent and is repaid to you at the end of the tenancy. This deposit is used to cover the expenses if you break/destroy anything in the property.
Viewing the flat
Check every plug/switch/cooker/tap etc. (if it is not working report it).
Ask who is the gas supplier for the property.
Make sure you know where are all of the meters (gas/electricity/water) and make sure they are registered (if they are not you will have quite a hassle arranging that yourself – trust me).
Ask for a gas safety certificate (they are legally obliged to present it to you).
Know who is the landlord (is it a regular person/ a firm) and how many properties he/she owns.
Check if the flat is lit properly (are there enough windows/ lights).
Check for any inconveniences (construction nearby, bar nearby, prison/hospital/church nearby)
Make sure the flat is registered! (this means it is registered in every data base – you will need it to be to set internet, bank account, register your flat with a gas supplier etc.)
Arrange everything with the estate agent before signing the agreement
Agree on everything that needs to be fixed in the property prior to your move in. Clearly point out everything and insist on putting it into your written agreement.
There are services that can check your agreement for you. Your Council site provides many useful information (read it carefully before the search).
Don’t sign the agreement without a written insurance that all your requirements will be met before you move in.
The estate agent or the landlord should come with you give you the keys and show you the property. This includes showing you where are all the utility meters and how to use them. Also they should have a check list that you fill out with them indicating the condition of the flat (if there is a loose switch or a crack on the wall for example this needs to be indicated there).
First thing to do when you enter – photograph everything, and I do mean everything! Take your time to photograph every little detail of your flat (this will be your proof is any repairs need to be done in future etc.).
One more thing: never ever move in on Friday!! Trust me on this one. In case anything goes wrong or you need to arrange something you won’t be able to do shit till Monday! Worst case scenario you will end up without gas/hot water or broken door/toilet/cooker for the whole weekend! (If that happens your landlord must repay you for any extra expenses (eating out, public shower etc.) if they left you with a flat that is unfit to live in).
There. Hopefully this post will be useful for all of you folks who want to rent a flat in London and will spare you the nightmare I had to go through.
Best of luck in your search guys!