Moving to London
An Insider’s Guide to Accommodation in London
This London relocation guide has been designed to help understand the basics of the London rental market, what to expect and how to avoid any disappointments. So whether you’re locked and loaded with a moving date or still weighing up your options; we hope to comfortably guide you through the necessities of moving London.
The first exciting chapter covers: Accommodation.
Within this chapter, we will be covering the glorious rental market of London as well as other pieces of practical knowledge that will come in handy.
A Guide for the Bold and Brave
The guide in your hands has been purposefully constructed to help you understand the intricacies of the London rental market.
London’s property market is exceptionally buoyant and isn’t showing signs of slowing. As its popularity increases for travellers wanting the perfect stay, so do the quality of properties available and the competition to snap them up.
But don’t be put off. The feeling of setting up home in your favourite corner of London Town will far outweigh the preliminary efforts required to bag your dream pad. Follow our guide to make the most of your search and stay several steps ahead of the game.
By reading on, you’ll find out:
- How to navigate the rental market
- How to find the right accommodation in London
- How to weave your way through the demands of tenant agencies and landlords
- What checklist you need before you move
- Why serviced apartments in London are better than property rentals.
1.1 Need vs Want
Finding property in London has its downsides and can be a long process. But if you want to cut down on time, then it is best to have an idea of what your dream property might look like. Do you need a garden? Does the landlord accept pets? You’ll find that your preferences begin to take the form of flexible compromises and inflexible deal-breakers. This list will prove invaluable in narrowing down a huge catalogue of potential property matches.
While a nearby underground station is a helpful benefit, London’s exceedingly efficient bus network makes commuting possible and even pleasant from many areas not supported by the tube network. Transport for London and National Rail Enquiries will be able to offer accurate commuter alternatives across London. You can also use maps and apps like City Mapper to determine your commute and how long your average journey to work might be.
All of these things and more should be taken into account when searching for places to rent in London.
With 11 eager tenants to every available rental in London, the competition to land your ideal apartment can be fierce. Properties come and go within 24 hours and so it’s best to put yourself in the best-informed position. Register for instant alerts from online property management sites and call where you can, rather than email to declare an initial interest.
In the instance of emailing, it’s good to give some details about yourself. Who will you be living with? What are your interests? Are you smokers/non-smokers? Your ages and your occupations. These will all assist in finding a property by giving your prospective landlord an idea of who you are.
Most people use agents to assist with their property search. It is recommended that you contact the agent by phone when you’ve found somewhere of interest, rather than emailing. This looks more professional and allows you to build a working relationship between you and the agent. This can ensure that you get the dream accommodation you want.
You want to appear as the best potential tenant to any potential landlord and the best way to do this is by having your papers in order. Having pre-written references from previous landlords (regardless of the country) will save time and demonstrate your enthusiasm. The landlord or agent may also wish to see proof of your identity, immigration status, employment status and credit history. The more of these documents you can prepare in advance, the more attractive your offer will appear.
In short, you need a fair amount of official papers. Here are the documents you need to be able to rent property in London:
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Mortgage documents
- Letter from employer
- ATM card, credit card, bank book, bank statement from USA bank
- Medicare Card (For those moving from the UK)
- International driver’s licence
- Marriage certificate.
Furnished vs Unfurnished
Whether a landlord lets his property unfurnished, part furnished or fully furnished is completely at their discretion. Of course, this may impact the desirability of the property in your eyes, as you may have a crate full of homewares ready to move in, or you may need to wait a month for your belongings to arrive.
This can be negotiated but any changes may have an effect on the rental price and terms of the security deposit. If you’re unsure about what is or isn’t included – just ask! The more questions you ask when viewing a property, the more comfortable you’ll feel when signing any contractual agreements.
1.2 Where to Look
The Best London Neighbourhoods
From colourful street markets to high-shine high- rises, London’s neighbourhoods vary wildly in style, accessibility and aesthetic. Each one has its own unique character and history, which why most Londoners refer to their neighbourhood rather than just the city itself when you ask them where they’re from.
Don’t know your London neighbourhoods? We can help you there. Here’s a list of the best places to stay in London:
- Canary Wharf
- Old Street
- London Bridge
- Covent Garden
...and many more.
We strongly recommend spending some serious time thinking about whether a midnight bagel or a 7 am flat white are local necessities - as different districts different things. Many boroughs have huge green spaces and great ethnic diversity while others have a lively night-life and world-class dining. Whatever neighbourhood you want is up to you. Use our Area Guide to explore and find your ideal area.
Agents and Landlords
Almost all landlords will have an appointed property agent whose duty it is to manage new tenants including negotiation of terms and conditions.
Property agents in London are very handy, and, luckily for you, come in prodigious supply. Register with them directly, you won’t regret it. They will work to find you a suitable property that ticks all your needs and requirements.
It is best to keep in mind that if you find a property using an online search tool, you’ll need to contact the estate agent representing the landlord to view the property. These contact details will always be displayed on online search sites. They function as a go-between you and the landlord and can often have sway with your enquiry.
However, some landlords prefer to set-up privately without the assistance of an agent, but we recommend avoiding this alternative. You will be far better protected legally should any complications arise if you have completed your set-up via an agent.
Be aware that agents do charge a fee in addition to your first month’s rental deposit for their work. This might be a small amount for paperwork but always ask in advance to prevent any nasty surprises once your search is over and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line.
Online Search Tools
Zoopla and Rightmove are impartial letting sites displaying up-to-the-minute availability of properties from agents all across London. They both offer instant alerts when new properties that match your criteria become available.