Finding a new place to rent in London can be a minefield. How do you decide where to rent, or what kind of property you’re looking for? By taking a step back and bearing a few questions in mind, you can take the stress out of your search and find the perfect place to rent.
What can I afford?
You don’t want to sign the contract on a rental that you’ll struggle to afford a few months down the line. As a general rule, it’s often advised that you don’t spend more than 35% of your monthly take home pay on rent.
It’s important to remember, though, that rent is higher in the capital than the rest of the country – many people in fact spend as much as 50% of their wage on renting a place to live. But consider how your rent might eat into your lifestyle and any other financial commitments or goals, such as savings, that you want to stick to.
Affordability can also influence which area you concentrate your search on. Average rents vary quite considerably across London, so it’s a good idea to see how different boroughs compare – take a look at the London Rent Map developed by the Mayor of London.
Alongside your budget, you might also want to consider your commute to work, and vicinity to amenities and local services. Would you like a place in a leafy suburb near independant shops, or somewhere more central, perhaps closer to your work? Either way, the bigger your search radius, the greater the chance of finding a property that suits your needs.
Am I able to rent?
To rent a property in the UK, you must have the right to live here. Landlords are required by law to check that anyone over the age of 18 has the right to live in the UK. They do this with reference to your documents, which they make a copy of. A full list of the documents used to check the Right to Live can be found on the government’s website.
Have I got the right documents?
Alongside your Rent to Rent, landlords and letting agents will want to check that you’ll be able to make your monthly payments. They may ask for your credit history or current employment status – a copy of your employment contract, if you have one, would be sufficient.
How long is the tenancy?
Checking the duration of the tenancy is very important. If you’re planning on renting for only a short time, it’s best to search for short-term rentals. Ask what the minimum term of the lease is – if you want to leave the property before, you may have to pay a penalty.
How much is the deposit?
From June 2019, the maximum a landlord can ask for a security deposit is the equivalent of 5 weeks of rent for properties with total annual rent up to £50,000, or 6 weeks of rent for properties over £50,000. Landlords also have to protect your deposit – you can check if they have with one of three government-backed agencies.
Is the property furnished?
While some properties can be rented unfurnished, most come ready with furniture and fittings. It’s a good idea to check exactly what will be in the property if you choose to move in – some of the furniture you see on your viewing might belong to the current tenants, and will be taken away when they move out.
Is the property safe?
Regardless of the style of the property, you’ll want to check that it doesn’t pose any harm to you. Landlords are required to install a smoke detector on each floor which is used as living accommodation, and a carbon monoxide detector for rooms where solid fuels are burned – wood or coal burning stoves, for example.
They’ll also have to check that they’re in working order at the start of each new tenancy – after that it’s up to the tenant. Alongside detectors, make sure that the property has working water and heating systems, and the electrics are in good order – though it might look strange, check each light switch as you go from room to room.
Looking for a property to rent in London can be hectic. If you start at the right place, asking the most pertinent questions, you’ll be better able to navigate the capital’s fast-moving rental market and find yourself a safe home that suits both your budget and your needs.
If you’re looking to rent a property in South West London, why not get in contact with one of James Anderson’s dedicated letting agents? With years of experience and a wealth of local knowledge, they’ll be able to help you find your ideal rental property. Take a look at the latest properties currently offered to let.