Step by step guide to renting London property
For many people, renting a home is a positive lifestyle choice, affording greater flexibility and no long-term obligations, with the added bonus of being free from the responsibility of repairs and maintenance. However, at Fraser & Co we appreciate that finding a home to rent can often be stressful and we have prepared this guide to steer you through the process.
How much can you afford?
Before you begin looking for a property, you need to establish how much rent you can afford to pay, ensuring that you have enough money left over for bills, travel, food and other living expenses. It’s important to realise that you’re committing yourself for the whole duration of the tenancy agreement. Once signed, it can be very difficult to extract yourself from an agreement.
When you find a suitable property, you will be expected to pay the first month’s rent in advance. In London it’s also standard practice to put down a deposit equivalent to six weeks’ rent, which is refunded at the end of the tenancy.
Where do you want to live?
How expensive are rents in the particular area?
How easy is the journey to work and how long will it take?
How far away will you be from friends and family?
What are local amenities like, such as shops, bars & restaurants and leisure facilities?
If you’re considering a number of different areas, it is sensible to research each in turn and consider drawing up a list of pros and cons to help narrow your search.
Finding a home
At Fraser & Co we make finding a home as stress-free as possible. When you have established how much rent you can afford and have an idea of where you’d like to live, register with us by calling or visiting one of our offices, or click here to register online. We will then send you details of any properties that meet your criteria by email, text or mail. We have a wide range of properties available to rent throughout London so we’re sure to be able to find you something suitable.
The London rental market moves quickly so it’s sensible to view any properties you are interested in straight away, or you may miss out. At Fraser & Co, we accompany all viewings so that we are on hand to answer any questions you may have.
Making an offer
Once you have found a property you’d like to rent, we will submit your offer to the landlord and after any negotiations have taken place, hopefully your offer will be accepted.
When your offer is accepted, the follow process usually applies:
Before signing the tenancy agreement you will need to pay a holding deposit, normally equivalent to two week’s rent, to secure the property and take it off the market. This will then be deducted from the final amount due, or refunded if your references do not meet with the landlord’s approval.
Reference checks will also need to be completed, including a credit check, employment status, proof of income and a reference from a previous landlord or possibly a character reference. This process may take up to 10 days to complete. Please note that an administration fee will be charged to cover this.
Once reference checks have been completed to the landlord’s satisfaction, both the landlord and tenant will sign a tenancy agreement which outlines the rules you both agree to adhere to, and states the period of the tenancy and the rental payments. In the UK, the most common form of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST). There is normally an administration fee to pay for the agreement.
Just before you move in, you will be required to put down a deposit (which will be held and protected by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme) and pay the first month’s rent in advance.
You will be responsible for paying the TV licence, council tax and utility bills at the property from the date you move on (unless these are included in the rent) and you are also responsible for insuring your personal effects (advisable).
Prior to moving in, you will be asked to check and sign an inventory confirming the property’s contents and condition. You can expect to receive a copy of the inventory within seven days of your moving in date. There may be a fee to pay for the inventory to be compiled.
All that remains is to pack your belongings, arrange their removal and pick up the keys to your new home. Don’t forget that you are responsible for reading the utility meters as soon as you move in and providing the meter readings to the relevant utility companies.
At the end of the tenancy, if you decide not to renew your rental agreement your deposit will be returned, providing you leave the property in the condition you found it. Upon checking out, you should go through the original inventory with the landlord or their inventory clerk and any breakages or damage will be deducted from your deposit.
From 6 April 2007, all deposits (for rent up to £100,000 per annum) taken by landlords and letting agents for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. The scheme allows tenants to get all or part of their deposit back when they are entitled to it and encourages tenants and landlords to make a clear agreement from the start on the condition of the property. This makes any disputes easier to resolve. For more information about tenancy deposit schemes visit direct.gov.uk.