Renting a flat in a city as vast and humongous as London is a pretty big deal. You’ll need the researching skills of Sherlock Holmes, the dedication of Winston Churchill, and the sense of humor of Jimmy Carr to pull it off without losing your mind. (Or you can give us a bell and settle everything in one day. Just saying…)
Long story short, renting is a long, scrupulous process filled with goals and expectations all larger than life. Missing out on an important detail or two while focusing on the larger picture is now a staple of the process for many expats.
Now, we can’t let the same happen to you, can we? That’s why we are proud to present this list of smart tips for savvy renters in London!
1. Agencies VS private landlords
Should I go for the services of an agency, or should I stick to private landlords? This question puzzles the minds of many renters. The facts that it is one of the most important decisions in the entire process and that it needs an exact answer ASAP don’t really make things easier for you.
Well, if I were in your shoes, I’d start with considering the pros and cons of both options.
An agency does the work for you. It finds you a place, it employs people who deal with the paperwork, it has the folks who perform the background checks on you, the landlord and the property. These perks are hard to ignore, especially if you are moving into London from a different country and are yet to be acquainted with the local laws, procedures and underwater stones. All in all, an agency is a much safer shot, all be it more expensive.
Working directly with a landlord is cheaper. You will avoid the commissions and the fees. Alas, this is where the benefits end. Will you get a decent deal or will you be ripped off by a man who’s in this business just for the money?
Who knows? I sure don’t. All things considered, you might get the deal of a lifetime with a nice, friendly, openhearted landlord. Or you may not.
With an agency, you are paying for an additional sense of security. Whether it’s worth your money or not is for you to decide.
2. The questions
A common mistake many renters fall victim to is the belief that their new home is temporary. It’s not that these people are wrong. Renting and owning a property are two different things.
Still, a rental is a place where you’ll be living for a significant amount of time. Even if you rent for a year, that’s 365 days of being there. That’s a lot!
This is why you should approach renting the same way you would approach buying a home. Start with asking the right questions.
– Who manages the property? Is there a service company or a dedicated landlord?
– Are there any works or renovation planned for the building?
– Are there any constructions currently going on? Are there any planned? Whether or not you’ll get a chance to rest in peace and quiet without the wreckage of a construction crew outside your window depends on the answer.
– Ask about the stuff that’s currently present in the flat. What’s its state? Who will be in charge of maintenance? Who will cover the expenses? Make sure that the stuff you currently see will remain there once you move in, because that 55-inch TV you loved so much may as well belong to the current tenant.
All in all, do a lot of poking around, Be as nosy as possible, because if you miss something now, it may be too late or too expensive to fix that thing later.
3. Read first, sign later
Ok, here is a story that happened recently with a co-worker of mine. He got into a lot of trouble because, while he was at work, his co-tenant has brought in a dog into a property where pets are not allowed. Sure, the pupster was fluffy and cuddly and all such things, but my friend was forced to pay a fine for having it, though unknowingly. You see, in a shared tenancy, each party is responsible for the actions of the other. And yes, it was written in the tenancy agreement. Now tell me, are you OK with signing something like that?
Then again, an agreement must have a comprehensive inventory listing for the property you are interested in. Have you checked it? And have you checked the flat? Does it have all of the mentioned items in their described condition? Because if not you will end up paying for the stuff that wasn’t even yours, to begin with.
It’s the details like these that are of the most important in any legal document. It’s boring and poorly written, I get it. I really do. Alas, there’s not much one can do about it. You’ll just have to suck it up and study the whole thing attentively anyway.
Do you have any other smart tips for savvy renters? Make sure to share your stories with the community on Twitter. Send them to us at @Relocate2London and who knows how many new Londoners you’ll save from making your mistakes.