A Guide to Renting Property in the UK
Viewing – The rental market moves very quickly (particularly in London) and as a general rule the earliest you should start viewing apartments would be 4 weeks prior to your move date. Property tours generally take place during office hours (Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm) with Saturdays often best saved for second viewings and measuring up. This is due to restricted access at weekends.
Requirements – to get an idea of the type of property you are looking for your Agent will usually ask the following questions in order to begin the search:
It may be that you don’t yet have the answers to all of questions yet but any you can complete will help give your Agent a starting point.
Making an Offer – Once you have viewed and made your decision your Agent will need to put an offer forward to the landlord as quickly as possible. This should outline the terms under which you wish to take the property, rental price, length of time any requests etc – your Agent will talk you through all the options and put this forward on your behalf. It is usual in London for a property to be listed with more than one agent which means it is vital to express your interest at the earliest stage possible.
Administration – Once terms are agreed you will need the following (quickly!) in order to secure the property:
Reference contact details - most likely you will then need to complete a reference application form or the agent may request letters from the following: bank/employer/previous Landlord/personal reference)
Administration fees – this will cover agents charges for preparing the tenancy paperwork and will vary from agent to agent:
Rental and Deposit funds - It is standard to pay a 6 week rental deposit plus the first rental instalment (often Monthly) in advance prior to moving into the property. Please note these must be showing as cleared funds prior to the commencement of the Tenancy.
Contract – A ‘standard’ lease is often one year. You can also request options are written into your contract such as ‘Option to renew’ which give the tenant the right to extend after the first year within certain guidelines and some landlords may consider a ‘break clause’ which allows you to terminate a contract after 6 months. These are all specific clauses which will have to be negotiated on your behalf.
Utilities – Usually the rental price advertised is ‘pure rental’ and will generally not be inclusive of any bills. As the tenant you will be responsible for Gas, Water, Electricity, Water Rates, and the Council Tax unfortunately none of these are fixed rates and will depend wholly on the level of usage. The Council Tax which will be the highest charge is a property tax which is fixed by the local Council and will depend on the size and value of the property.
You will also need to take into account the telephone line rental and call charges, internet/broadband rental and cable/satellite television providers who will charge according to the package you take. Many tenants choose to pay all these bills as a monthly direct debit.
Television Licence – In the UK it is also a requirement to purchase a Television licence full details can be found via www.tvlicensing.co.uk.
Insurance – Whilst the Landlord is responsible for insuring their own property please note that it is the Tenants responsibility to insure their own belongings and to cover any damage that does not come under the remit of ‘Fair Wear & Tear’ this comes under ‘contents insurance’ and should be taken as soon as contracts are exchanged.
Furnished/Unfurnished? – This can be confusing! In London it is not cheaper to rent an unfurnished apartment. The same property could be offered furnished or unfurnished and this will not affect the price. Most 1 bedrooms apartments are offered furnished as this is higher demand. Most family properties come unfurnished again to meet demand. 2 and 3 bedrooms properties will find more of a mix of furnished and unfurnished offered. Please note however if you view a property which is offered unfurnished apartment and request it is furnished (or indeed vice versa) this will often increase the rental to cover the landlords costs for furnishing/storage.
‘Furnished’ covers all the larger items and often kitchen utensils
‘Unfurnished’ covers white goods carpets and often window dressings however the extent of furnishing and finish will depend entirely on the landlord and can vary – if you require something that isn’t in the apartment you must request it when you put an offer forward.
Rental Budget - How much should I pay? – One of the first questions you will be asked is ‘what is your budget?’ and Agents are often asked ‘how much should we pay?’ This varies for each individual be prepared in London it is most usual to pay a higher proportion of your salary than you may do in other cities/countries. As a guide MANY referencing companies deem it necessary to earn a salary which equates at least twice the amount of your rental Per Annum to pass references. If the rental is above this proportion then they will class a ‘fail’ for references and a Guarantor or extra rent in advance will be recommended.
A GUIDE TO RELOCATING TO THE UK
Relocating into the UK for the first or even the second time can be a confusing time. It can be a struggle managing the needs of their family with the expectations of your company. Finding a home that meets the needs of the whole family can be a demanding task for all but the most hardened international executives.
Tips for your Relocation:
Be open minded - London remains one of the most expensive cities in the world it can be an exciting, beautiful, fascinating city but you will not get a 4 bedroom apartment in central Chelsea for £2000pcm. You might however get a fantastic apartment overlooking the river, a charming cottage in Wimbledon or a pied a Terre off the Kings Road. Areas out of London can be cheaper.
Plan your time well - The London rental market moves very quickly and as a general rule the earliest you should start viewing apartments would be 4 – 6 weeks prior to your move date any earlier and Landlords are often unwilling to wait. Ty to explore areas of interest ahead of time so you don’t need to rush a decision. Have coffee in the local café, try the commute from the office – could you do this every day? The Average commute in London is 45 Minutes.
Choose who you work with - The most important step is to choose your agent carefully they should be a member of ARLA or NAEA both of which are recognised industry regulatory bodies and provide recourse should things go wrong.
Be clear about your expectations - Once you have viewed and made your decision you will then need to work with your agent to put an offer forward to the landlord as quickly as possible. This should outline the terms under which you wish to take the property, rental price, length of time, any requests etc. In most cases the Agent is working on behalf of their client the landlord, so be clear on your expectations.
Be Prepared - Once the terms are agreed you will usually need to complete references and pay an administration charge in order to secure the property. The agent will usually request letters from your bank, employer, previous Landlord and a personal reference in order to confirm you will be a suitable tenant and able to meet the rental payments. Administration fees cover the agents charges for preparing the tenancy paperwork, running references and preparing the inventory (the condition and item report of the property) and will vary from agent to agent but is usually a few hundred pounds.
Read the Contract – Ensure any terms you agreed (such a repainting, the provision or removal of certain items etc) are included and don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation.
Finally once the contracts has been signed and you have collected your keys one of the final administrative chores is to acquaint yourself with your local Public House in order to truly settle into British Life, only then should you unpack - good luck!
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