10 Things You Need to Know About Renting in London

There are some important things to keep in mind when renting in England's capital...


Finding somewhere good to live can be an essential element of the student experience.

Having a safe base for your college of choice can not only help you make the most of your studies and provide a stable new home but give you a great opportunity to expand your networks through your house mates.

But how do you find a suitable place that works for you? If it’s the first time you’ve had to track down a property to rent at university, then you need to ask some questions to work out what will be best.

Here are 10 things you need to remember when it comes to renting…

  1. Research potential accommodation
  2. What will you be paying?
  3. Test your internet connection
  4. Ask about the surrounding area
  5. Check the small print
  6. Is the property furnished?
  7. The area at night
  8. Is the property gas safe?
  9. Council tax
  10. Negotiate

1. Work out what any potential accommodation might be like

It sounds obvious but it’s never sensible to sign up for a room somewhere without doing your research first.

Look at different properties online, research various areas, post questions on university social media groups and see what is included in any contract offered by a landlord.

If you can, go and take a look around in person or do a virtual tour at the very least. Try and see beyond the spec of a property and if you respond to the look and feel of the place. If you’re looking on behalf of other housemates, then take photos and a video - then you can share and discuss them later.

It’s a good idea to try and look at least three different properties so you can compare what’s on offer and value for money.

2. Look at what you’ll be paying for

If this is the first time you’ll be moving home, then make sure you remember to check what you’ll be paying for as part of the let.

If you’re looking at living in a shared property, then it’s likely that bills for electricity, broadband, water, gas and TV licence will be split between everyone living there. However, if you’re moving into a student hall, then some of these costs might be included in your monthly rent.

When sharing, you’ll also need to come up with an arrangement around how you pay for bills. In some scenarios, splitting the total amount is the best option. However, if someone is responsible for using more gas or internet than everyone else, then you may need to work out a fair arrangement.

3. Test the internet signal


Having poor broadband can be very frustrating, especially when we now spend so much time online. Music makers and artists will often need to transfer big files so it can be essential to ensure your internet is up to the task of undertaking this heavy workload.

You can test broadband speed online by entering the postcode on a website. The results will show the maximum speed you can expect. Remember, if you’re sharing this with five housemates, then this use could slow it down considerably.

Remember to test your mobile signal in a property too by trying to make a call from the building.

4. Ask about certain areas

If you’re unfamiliar with a particular place, then do your research online and ask friends and fellow students for their thoughts. You need to know if an area is safe, whether it has good transport connections and anything about local amenities such as shops or great places to socialise.

The earlier you begin your property search, the better the chance you have of moving into a desirable location.

5. Look at the small print of a contract


Always read the contract you sign up to when renting. You’d be surprised how many students don’t bother to do this. But it is important to go through and work out what you’re committing to. If anything doesn’t make sense or you’re unclear about what it means, then ask. Being crystal clear about what you’re signing will help, especially when you’ll be asked to pay a deposit at the start of a tenancy. You’ll want to get as much of this back as possible so knowing how and what you need to return to the landlord will help.

As soon as you move in, take photos of the property too. If anything looks damaged or marked, then tell the landlord so they can make a note. This will mean you’ll avoid getting charged for the repair or fix when you come to leave.

6. Does the property come furnished?

It’s best to check if the property is furnished before signing the contract. And what ‘furnished’ means. In some cases, this could be only a bed frame or a kettle, meaning you will need to purchase extra items. To save yourself money and additional administrative headaches, then read the small print in your contract and work out exactly what comes with the property as part of the rental.

7. Research what your chosen area is like at night


Some locations are very different at night when compared with what they’re like in the daytime. Perhaps there is poor street lighting or you’re close to a very rowdy pub. This could have an impact on your abilities to study at home or how safe you feel when coming home so try and view a potential rental at different times of the day so you know what to expect from living there.

8. Is your property gas safe?

Before moving in, you want to make sure that a property is safe and this includes checking all the relevant safety procedures have been adhered to. Check for carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms - and double-check that they work too. A landlord needs to have certificates for the boiler and any appliances - if they don’t, then look for somewhere else to live.

9. Council tax

Students are exempt from paying council tax so if all of your housemates are studying, then this shouldn’t present any issues. However, if someone is in employment, then the whole of your property is liable for council tax, although with some deductions. You need to work out with the rest of your housemates what to do if someone does start working and how to split these costs.

10. Negotiate

If you think the property is too expensive, then don’t be afraid to tell the landlord or estate agent and try and negotiate.

They might not budge on price but it’s worth asking as they may well be eager to arrange some tenants and strike a deal sooner rather than later.

Good luck with your property search. We hope these 10 tips will help you find somewhere suitable to live where you can successfully begin your studies.

Happy house hunting!

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by ICMP staff writer
August 9, 2021
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