I’ve done this a few times, and feel like I have learned a lot. And, I’m currently going through all the steps below myself, as out landlady have decided to sell the flat we’re currently renting. I’m not gonna lie – It sucks, but that’s the nature of renting in London. Finding a flat in London is by no means easy – possibly one of the most difficult things ever – but not impossible. Here’s a few tips to help you on the way:
- Get in first. Easier said than done! I’d recommend signing up with your local Estate Agents, and make a really good impression on them. Make sure they remember you, and that you don’t set your requirements too high – Better to be offered flats that you can turn down, than not being offered any at all. I have been put first in the queue for a property before, thanks to an Estate Agent.
- Check out lettings pages on Facebook. A lot of areas will have a local Facebook group for private landlords. Have a scout, or proactively create a post with what you are searching for. Be professional but friendly – Include a friendly photo of yourself, alongside a short bio. Focus on how reliable you are, and what a nice person you are.
- Use your network. Spread the word, that you are in the market for a new place to rent. A lot of people in London make a living of buy-to-rent (I won’t mention how I feel about that) and some of your friends or work colleagues might know one of them.
- Be realistic about prices. London is tricky when it comes to renting prices, and by tricky, I mean bloody expensive. If you are moving to an area you don’t know, do some research of what to expect (rightmove.co.uk is a good place to start.)
- If an estate agent contacts you with a flat that you think you might be interested in, drop whatever you are doing and go view it immediately. If it’s a nice flat, chances are that the first person to view it, will take it. Be prepared to put down a holding deposit there and then.
- …But make sure you have a proper look around the flat. Check out the walls, the windows, and the security. Damp is very widespread in London, and it’s not nice living in a flat that is damp. Trust your nose and intuition.
- Make sure you read the contract through a few times. Estate Agents can get things wrong, and remember, their job is to get the flat rented out no matter what. They are working for the landlord.
- Get a feeling of what the building is like. I have lived in a place where the actual building was so bad that I barely got any sleep for 8 months due to noisy neighbours. It’s hard to fully investigate this during a viewing, but no harm in asking if the Estate Agent know who lives in the surrounding flats and houses.
- And the most important one – Your common sense. Definitely listen to it. If it sounds too good to be true it definitely is. And remember, Estate Agents will say almost anything to earn their fee – double check everything, and don’t feel bad for doing so. And never, ever, pay anyone any money before seeing the flat.
Also, check out some of the most depressing letting adds in London here, and see if you can figure out whether to laugh or cry – at this point in time, I’m not quite sure myself.