A 2022 Guide to Renting a Home
Below is our in-depth guide for tenants looking to rent a home in London. We will take you through each step of the renting process and provide useful 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 on 020 7323 2277 for friendly, professional 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, ask yourself a few essential questions to establish exactly what you need to have and what’s nice to have.
How many bedrooms do you need?
Would you like to live in a flat or a house?
Do you have a preference for new-build, modern or older style homes?
Are you looking for outside space such as a balcony, patio or garden?
Where in Central London would you like to live?
How much of a priority is private or on-road car parking?
How important are local shops, bars and restaurants?
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, it’s time to walk the streets so you can get an idea of the neighbourhood that suits you best. Research potential areas in as much detail as you can. Think about transport links and your commute to work, and the kind of amenities that are important for you to have nearby. Get a feel for the area and spend a little time there if you can.
Hudsons operate all over the West End including some of London’s most desirable residential areas. We’ve compiled some useful Central London Area Guides to help you get a better flavour for the kind of lifestyle you can expect in different neighbourhoods.
If you’re looking for a central location with pockets of green space and beautiful architecture, Bloomsbury is well worth a look. The area was once home to famous literary figures such as Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens, and there’s 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, and all the shops, restaurants and bars you could wish for are within easy reach. There’s a diverse mix of old and new residential property in a range of architectural styles.
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 are 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 and boasts a wealth of period homes as well as many new residential developments that are proving very popular. The area has managed to retain a village feel within its community and is favoured by professional couples and families.
Fitzrovia was awarded the title of ‘best place to live in London’ by the Sunday Times, on account of the area’s beautiful residential streets, wide mix of properties ranging 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.
As a world-leading metropolis, London is one of the most sought-after places to live in the world, and unfortunately that makes rents expensive. In the last 12 months, rent prices have increased by an average of 9.4% and demand for rental properties in the capital has been soaring since late summer.
Establishing a realistic rental budget is key. There are a number of costs to be taken into account when renting a property and it is highly recommended that you budget your finances before you begin viewings. Costs include:
- Monthly rent: The monthly amount is payable is calculated by multiplying the weekly amount by 52 (weeks) and dividing this by 12 (months).
- Damage deposit: A deposit equivalent to five weeks rent is usually required before your move 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 such as gas, electricity, water, phone and broadband.
- Home contents insurance: So many tenants miss this – you have valuables so get them insured! Hudsons can assist with insurers who can help with this.
Start by taking a look around the market, perhaps by looking at a property portal such as Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket or Prime Location to get an overview of the properties available in your preferred areas. Then register with each lettings agent who has the type of properties that you are looking for. New properties come and go quickly, often before they are listed on Rightmove.
Renting through an agent will ensure that your experience is up to standard and give you the 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 the renters’ deposit and rent money.
- Redress Scheme: Unresolvable disputes between tenant and agent will be referred to the redress scheme who will adjudicate to resolve the issue.
- Reputation: Lettings agencies will ensure standards are adhered to in their professional conduct.
When you find a suitable apartment to rent, be ready to act quickly. The London rental market moves fast and there can be a lot of competition for good properties. Be as prepared as you can be with your 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 straightaway.
Most landlords are looking for tenants to fill a property as soon as the previous tenant has moved out, and usually 2-4 weeks after your offer has been agreed. Hudsons can expedite this for you, should you need it.
At Hudsons, we will strive to arrange property viewing appointments at times that best suit you, and will accompany you on weekdays, evenings and, by appointment, on weekends. The more properties we view with you, the better equipped we are to understand the kind of property you really want and need.
It is recommended that you go armed with a few questions or a checklist when viewing a property you are interested in renting. It’s best to have all the information you need for a flat or apartment that is going to be your home for the foreseeable future, and to avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.
Once you have found your ideal home and decide to make an offer, we will submit the offer 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, as it is not legally binding, for you or the landlord, until the tenancy agreement is fully executed (signed by both parties).
Once the landlord has accepted your offer, we will require one week’s holding deposit from you in order to remove the property from the market and away from other prospective tenants. This is the point where we will ask you to fill in reference forms and also you may be required to perform a Right to Rent check which is a statutory requirement for anyone renting in the UK.
You will be asked to fill out an application form, supplying basic personal details, contacts for referees and your authorisation for credit checks to be carried out.
Your 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.
These 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 clearly defining the rent payable, duration of the tenancy, your responsibilities and rights, the landlord’s responsibilities and the scheme under which your damage deposit will be held. At around this time you may be asked to make arrangements for any tenancy monies due to be paid as these will need to be paid over 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 require from you monies for the five-week damage deposit, one month advanced rent and any arrangement/reference fees. You will need to make time to meet the inventory clerk who will prepare an accurate list of the property’s contents and condition. Although this can be done without you being present, we would advise that you are.
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. 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 will assist you with arranging the change of utility providers. The inventory clerk or the agent will then provide you with keys to your new home.
1. Is it easy to rent a flat in London?
Finding a place to live in London can be pretty stressful. However, you can make the process easier if you know exactly what you are looking for and you are able to keep yourself organised throughout the process. Register with Hudsons for the best rental properties in the West End.
2. What do you need to 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 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).
3. 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.
4. Can I withdraw on 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 usually specifies the move-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.
Tips & Advice
At Hudsons, we understand that renting a new home can be a rather stressful process.
Whether you are a first-time renter or a long-term tenant, we’ve put together some useful tips and advice to help you make the experience a little bit easier.
Be clear about your budget
Budgeting correctly when looking for a place to rent is key. Remember to add 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 are able to offer paying 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 size of 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 don’t underestimate the space you do need.
Be a good tenant
Most landlords would rather keep a reliable tenant than risk going to market for a higher rent. In order to motivate the landlord to lock you into a long-term deal, make sure that you are seen as a considerate 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 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 committing to.