Renting in London: Top tips to stay ahead of the game
London has a sense of energy and vibrancy like no other city. And if you are thinking of moving to or within the capital, you want to be in the heart of the action, or close to good transport links.
The London rental sector is so vast, and so varied, that it remains highly competitive even in premium areas. Hunt around and you will find flats that are both good value and in a good location. But as always, time spent on research is never time wasted.
So here is our new rental guide with 10 tips to save time, money and stress when searching for your next property in the capital.
- As with buying, it is important to identify an area or areas tailored to your budget or commuting needs before deepening your search. It is also worth considering your key requirements, such as whether you are looking for a flat or a house, a period property or a new-build. Can you live in a studio to save money, or do you need a one-bedroom or two-bedroom property? What parking facilities do you need, if any?
- Never simply assume that an area is ‘not for you’ on the basis that you know nothing about it, or that it is too far from the centre of London. Like all great capital cities, London consists of micro-communities all with their own pros and cons. The better you can familiarise yourself with London as a whole, the more likely you are to find the area that best suits you. Visit during the week, the weekends and at different times of day to get a better understanding of the area.
- Research current rental values in areas/streets that interest you, in as much detail as possible. As with everything else, the more you shop around, the more likely you are to find a bargain.
- Rental values in London generally mirror property sale prices, with the highest rents to be found in prime central London and the lowest in the outlying boroughs, particularly those located to the east of the city centre. In Bexley, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, average monthly rents are just over £1,000. To the west, Hillingdon offers some of the best value.
- To assist with your search, set-up a property alert at OnTheMarket.com today. OnTheMarket.com features thousands of new properties each month, 24 hours or more before they are advertised on Rightmove or Zoopla.* Find a reputable agent with experience and expertise in lettings. They will be able to complement your online searches with useful advice and local knowledge. Ask lots of questions and build a good relationship with your agent so you are one of the first people that they call when a new property is listed. Then view the property as soon as possible to stay ahead in a competitive market.
- Expect to pay top dollar if a property is in immaculate condition. Conversely, be prepared to haggle if the property needs a bit of decorative TLC. You may well get better value as a result.
- Be sure to factor in the possibility of a future rent increase, particularly if you are planning to stay in a property for a number of years. “We are seeing a definite preference for long-term renting,” says Stephanie Nash, Head of Fulham lettings at Strutt & Parker. “More and more landlords are favouring longer-term tenancies which provide greater security for both landlord and tenant.”
- Remember that the rental market is not just competitive but fast-moving with multiple tenants in a race to get the best properties. So, make sure you have all the documentation you will need, such as references and good credit ratings before starting your search in earnest. You will also be required to put down a deposit, typically equal to a month’s rent. Ask about the Landlord Deposit Protection which is a government-backed tenancy scheme. More information on deposit protection schemes can be found here.
- Before signing a rental contract, familiarise yourself with your legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant. These are set out on the government’s website. And don’t forget to ask about a break clause in case you find the property is not right for you.
- It is very important, from the start of your tenancy, to expect high maintenance standards from your landlord and/or the agents responsible for managing the property. “The main reason tenants leave, aside from seeking better value, is because maintenance issues at their property are not dealt with efficiently,” says Charlotte Alexander of Savills’ Research Department. So, don’t settle for second best. Ask, in particular, who is responsible for managing the common parts of a property.
Conscientious tenants will always be treasured by forward-thinking landlords. So, when you find a rental property that suits you, keep your landlord sweet. It will stand you in excellent stead when your rent comes up for review.
Content provided by OnTheMarket.com is for information purposes only. Independent and professional advice should be taken before buying, selling, letting or renting property, or buying financial products.