Relocating to London can be an exciting adventure as you find yourself swept up into the life and culture of one of the world’s most vibrant cities. Finding a property to rent in London is a major part of that experience.
Moving to the big smoke comes with its fair share of challenges. Not only do you have to deal with the culture shock of moving to a new (and big) city, you also have to re-establish your life somewhere new.
Apartment and house hunting in London can be an expensive and time-consuming business. If you've never lived in London before, it can be very confusing working out where to look and what you need to do in order to find a place to stay.
However if you keep the following tips in mind, you will save yourself a lot of headaches, sore feet and pressure on your wallet. Make sure you read our comprehensive article on the best places to live in London to get an idea of areas you might like.
10 top tops for finding a property to rent in London
1) Know what you want
Writing down a list of requirements for your rental property is a good way of making sure you find a place that suits your needs. Wondering where the best places to live in London are? Do some research into London areas – check local facilities, transportation options, security issues, and distance to places you will need to travel to.
Look into the average rental prices in London and set a budget – make sure to include the cost of bills and agency fees into the price.
Some agents can charge a lot of money so this an important cost to factor in. These fees are not usually included and can make a big difference to the final rental price... you have been warned.
2) Ask around
It's who you know not what you know, and asking friends, family and work colleagues if they know of any great areas is a clever way to find somewhere to rent. This can often save you a lot of time and money while helping you avoid dealing with estate agencies.
Facebook is also another great place to ask your friends, as someone always knows something helpful. If you want to join a London community on Facebook and find out all the secrets it has to offer then click here.
3) Share to save
Sharing a house with a flatmate is a great way to save some money. Most students and young professionals choose this option as a way of starting out in London. It will help you meet people and can lower the costs of renting a property.
The general rule is that the more rooms your property has, the less rent per room your property will be. You'll be paying much more to live in a one bedroom flat than a four bedroom house in the same area.
Make sure you meet your future housemate before signing any agreements, though – you want to make sure you get along and will enjoy the sharing experience.
4) Stay safe
Always meet the landlord or the real estate agent in charge of the property before handing over any money.
Make sure all deposits are transferred into a tenancy deposit protection scheme and that you receive a receipt for any rental payments.
Never pay your rent or deposit in cash – it should always be an electronic or credit card payment.
You should also check the property and make sure there is a detailed inventory of all furniture and home wares, signed by both you and your landlord or agent. Record any issues that exist in the property and photograph any incidents of damage so that you are not charged for repairs when you leave.
5) Stay flexible
While living in the centre of London amongst all of the action would be thrilling, it is a lot more expensive than areas outside of the city. There are loads of districts outside of the main city centre that have great connections to the centre and you can save a lot of money renting here.
When looking at outer districts check transport connections. Find out how much it would cost for you to commute and whether or not the savings are worth the distance. Check out areas like Crystal Palace.
6) Be prepared
Demand for property in London is high and you can find yourself looking for somewhere to live for weeks before you are able to secure a property. As a result you will be competing with a lot of other people in the same position as you. So get your people-person hat on as you need to impress and win over your interviewee. Just like a job interview, you need to look presentable and show why you are the best person for the property.
7) Save for upfront costs
When you first move into a property, you need to be prepared for the unexpected upfront costs. These include rental deposits (this is usually a month and half’s worth of rent) and agency fees, which may include additional referencing charges, plus any additional costs from utilities companies. Make sure you keep these costs in mind and have the funds available. You will be unable to rent a property if you cannot afford to pay for these.
8) Be organised
House hunting takes time and a lot of preparation - if you are disorganised you may miss out on a great rental opportunity. Write down all viewing appointments in a diary and note down the time, address, the name of the person you are meeting and any other important details.
Keep a list of questions that you have about the property such as facilities in the surrounding area, cost of monthly bills and any issues that exist with the property.
Being organised will help ensure you are in the right place at the right time and increase your chances of securing a rental property.
9) Prepare your renter profile
Trying to find property in London is notoriously difficult. The best properties will always have people vying over them so it's important that you show you're the best renter for the property. It's vital to most landlords to know their property will be looked after by their renters, so if you can stand out from the crowd you're in for a better chance.
A great way you can do this is to prepare your personal statement and get references from previous landlords (no matter where they are in the world). If you rent via an agent, you will need to supply these to secure the property, so make sure you have this ready in advance to avoid disappointment.
10) Use Movebubble
The Movebubble app can save you tons of time finding a property, enabling you to book viewings in a couple of taps of the app so you don't have to spend hours on the phone to agents in your spare time (or during work hours!). You can also conduct your property search on our website by clicking here.