A 2023 Guide to Renting a Home
Our in-depth guide for tenants looking for a London rental home in 2023 will take you through the renting process step by step, and provide useful information and answers to many important questions you may have.
For more information about homes for rent in Central London, please get in touch with Hudsons’ lettings team at 020 7323 2277 for friendly, professional letting advice and assistance.
What are you looking for in a flat in London?
Before you start your search for a rental property in Central London, you need to consider a few key questions to establish exactly what the apartment needs to deliver. What are your need-to-haves and nice-to-haves?
- How many bedrooms are you looking for?
- Would you like to live in a flat, a maisonette or a house?
- Do you have a preference for new-build properties, modern or older-style homes?
- Are you looking for an outside space such as a balcony, patio or garden?
- Where in Central London would you like to be living?
- Is private or on-road car parking a priority?
- Are you keen to have shops, bars and restaurants nearby?
- How important are good transport links?
- Are you looking for a child-friendly property?
- Do you need to be in the catchment area for good schools?
- Do you have a pet?
Once you’ve established your search criteria for your rental home in London, it’s a good idea to get a feel for your favoured neighbourhood. Research potential areas in as much detail as you can and spend a little time there. Think about transport links and your commute to work, and the kind of local amenities that are important to you.
Hudsons Property operates all over the West End including some of London’s most desirable residential neighbourhoods. We’ve compiled some handy Central London Area Guides to help you get a better flavour of the kind of lifestyle you can expect as a resident in different areas.
If you’re looking for a central location with pockets of green space and beautiful period architecture, Bloomsbury is well worth a look. The area was once home to famous literary figures such as Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens. Living here means you’ll have a wealth of history, culture and art on the doorstep, including several University of London colleges and the British Museum.
The beating heart of the West End, Covent Garden is a hotspot for Londoners and tourists alike. The area’s rich cultural offering includes the Royal Opera House, West End theatres and nightclubs, plus all the shops, restaurants and bars you could wish for. Renting a property here offers a rich choice of flats and apartments in a range of architectural styles, including period buildings and brand-new developments.
Soho has a high-energy atmosphere on account of being the hub of London’s nightlife and entertainment. It’s a vibrant area in which to live and work and a favourite neighbourhood for movie and media industry players as well as city dwellers. Rental properties in Soho consist of a mix of period townhouses, flats and maisonettes above shops, loft living and new residential developments.
Marylebone has established itself as one of the most desirable Central London neighbourhoods, boasting a wealth of beautiful period homes as well as many new residential developments that are proving extremely popular. The area has succeeded in retaining an urban village feel within its community and is favoured by professional couples, families and international investors.
Fitzrovia has been awarded the title of ‘best place to live in London’ by the Sunday Times, on account of the area’s beautiful residential streets and a wide mix of properties which range from contemporary apartments and modern flats to period conversions. The friendly, bustling neighbourhood is home to much of London’s creative industries with a vibe that feels more relaxed than nearby Soho.
London is a world-leading metropolis and one of the most sought-after places to live globally. High demand for rental property means that prices have remained consistently high. What’s more, rent prices in 2023 have increased by an average of more than 15% over the last 12 months, largely as a result of pandemic-driven pent-up demand.
Establishing a realistic rental budget is key. There are many cost elements to be considered when renting a property in London and it is highly recommended that you budget your finances before you begin viewings. Costs include:
- Monthly rent: The monthly amount payable is calculated by multiplying the weekly amount by 52 (weeks) and dividing it by 12 (months).
- Damage Deposit: A deposit equivalent to five weeks’ rent is usually required upfront to cover any damage caused during the duration of the tenancy.
- Council Tax: Charged by the local council for access to public services like doctors, roads and community services.
- Utility bills for essential services, e.g. gas, electricity, water, phone, and internet.
- Home contents insurance: So many tenants miss this – if you have valuables, get them insured! Hudsons can assist with insurers who can help with this.
Your property search will start with a look around the market to get an idea of rental properties available in your preferred area, most likely by visiting popular property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket or Prime Location. Your next step is to register with local lettings agents that specialise in the type of property you are looking for. At Hudsons, we know from experience that new rental properties in London come and go very quickly, often before they are listed on Rightmove.
Renting through an agent in 2023 will ensure that your experience is up to standard while providing reassurance that your tenancy will be dealt with professionally. The agent will be your ongoing point of contact for the duration of the tenancy. Other benefits of using a lettings agent include:
- Client Money Protection: Registered agencies have insurance in place to protect tenant deposits and rent money.
- Redress Scheme: Disputes between tenant and landlord/agent that cannot be resolved will be referred to the redress scheme which will adjudicate.
- Reputation: Lettings agencies ensure that standards of service are adhered to in their professional conduct.
When you find a suitable rental property in London, be ready to act quickly. The London rental market moves fast and there can be a great deal of competition for the best properties. Be fully prepared with the right paperwork, and take your passport and references with you on a viewing. This gives you the best chance of being able to secure the property straight away.
Most landlords are looking for tenants to occupy a property as soon as the previous tenant has vacated it, and usually 2-4 weeks after your offer has been agreed upon. Where necessary, Hudsons can expedite this for you.
At Hudsons, we will always endeavour to arrange property viewings at times that best suit you and one of our team will accompany you on weekdays, evenings and, by appointment, at weekends. The more properties we view with you, the better equipped we are to understand the kind of property you are after.
We recommend that you come armed with a few questions or a checklist when viewing a property you are interested in renting in London. Wherever possible, try to get all the information you need for the flat or apartment that is going to be your home for the foreseeable future, to avoid any potential surprises further down the line.
Once you have found a property that suits your needs, let us know that you wish to make an offer and we will submit it on your behalf to the landlord, both verbally and in writing. At this point, it is important to state the length of tenancy you require along with any special conditions. This will assist the landlord in their decision-making.
Any offer you make on a property will be subject to satisfactory references and subject to contract. Until a tenancy agreement is agreed upon and fully executed (signed by both parties), your offer is not legally binding on either you or the landlord.
When an acceptable monthly rent has been agreed with the landlord, we will require one week’s holding deposit from you in order to take the rental property off the market and out of reach of other prospective tenants. This is the point at which we will ask you to fill in reference forms. We will also arrange for a Right to Rent check to be carried out, which is part of the standard process of renting a house and a statutory requirement for anyone renting in the UK.
You will be asked to fill out an application form, supplying basic personal details as well as contacts for referees and your authorisation for credit checks to be carried out.
The landlord may ask for references from your current employer and a previous landlord, as confirmation that you are a trustworthy tenant who can afford the rent, will pay on time and look after the property. If you are a first-time renter, you will need to provide a UK-based guarantor or pay 6 months’ rent upfront.
Credit checks will be carried out via an independent agency. A credit check shows how you handled your finances in the past and flags up any late payments and outstanding or unpaid debts.
A tenancy agreement will be drawn up for you. This is a legally binding contract that clearly specifies the rent payable, the duration of the tenancy, your responsibilities and rights, the landlord’s responsibilities and the scheme under which your damage deposit will be held. You will be asked to make arrangements for any tenancy monies due to be transferred, as these will need to be paid in cleared funds by the tenancy start date. The most common type of tenancy agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement.
Once the tenancy agreement has been signed, we will ask you for funds for the five-week damage deposit, one-month advanced rent and any arrangement/reference fees. You will also need to make time to meet our inventory clerk who will prepare an accurate list of the property’s contents and condition. Although this can be done without you being present, it is advisable that you attend for your own peace of mind.
The inventory is a list of everything that comes with the property, including furniture, appliances, fixtures and fittings. The condition of all items will be noted in the inventory. Do check everything thoroughly before you sign the inventory and make sure all defects are listed. You can also take your own photos or even a video as evidence. This will help resolve any potential disputes should they arise at the end of your tenancy.
Hudsons Property will assist you with arranging a change of utility providers. The inventory clerk or the agent will then hand over the keys to your new rental home in London.
How easy is it to rent a flat in London?
Finding a place to rent in London can be an exhausting process. However, you can ease the stress by knowing exactly what you are looking for and by keeping yourself organised throughout the process. Register with Hudsons Property for the best rental properties in the West End in 2023.
What is required before you rent an apartment?
You need to prove that you have the right to rent in the UK with evidence such as a UK passport, a visa or residence permit or proof of settled or pre-settled immigration status. In addition to your proof of ID, you also need a UK bank account, proof of earnings and up to three referees (employer, previous landlord, character reference).
What is the process of renting a property in London?
Finding a place to rent broadly consists of 6 steps: Getting your finances organised and establishing a budget, finding suitable properties and arranging viewings, making an offer and having it accepted, completing the paperwork, signing the tenancy agreement and paying the deposit, and finally moving in.
Can I withdraw from the offer to rent?
Any offer you make on a property you wish to rent will be subject to satisfactory references and subject to contract. The contract typically specifies the moving-in date and the date of the first rental payment. The agreement is not legally binding on either the tenant or the landlord until the tenancy agreement has been signed by both parties.
At Hudsons, we understand that renting a property in London in 2023 can be a rather stressful process. Whether you are a first-time renter or a long-term tenant, we thought it would be helpful to share some useful tips and advice to help you make the experience a little bit easier.
Set a clear budget
Budgeting correctly when looking for a place to rent in London is key. Remember to factor in the security deposit (typically 6 weeks’ rent), meaning that your initial rent and deposit payment will amount to about 1 ½ months’ rent. If you can pay upfront for, say 6-12 months, it may give you a competitive edge over other applicants.
Choose the right property
Choose the right apartment or house for your needs in terms of location and the size of the property. Visit the property at different times of day/night to check out the neighbourhood vibe. Don’t pay more for bedrooms you don’t need, but neither should you underestimate the space you do need.
Be a good tenant
Most landlords would rather keep a reliable tenant than risk going to the market for a higher rent. You can motivate your landlord to lock you into a long-term deal by ensuring that your behaviour is consistent with being a reliable tenant who pays the rent on time and looks after the property.
Consider the tenancy terms & conditions
Most tenancy agreements are for a period of 12 months, but you may be able to agree to a longer term with a lower rent or negotiate a break clause if this suits your personal or employment situation better. Whatever you agree, a signed tenancy agreement is a legal document, so make sure you know what you are signing up for.