By Aidan Rushby, CEO of Movebubble
Finding a place to live in the capital that’s within your budget, in the right location and available to rent can seem like an impossible task. With every person you meet seeming to have a horror story about being stitched up by a rogue landlord or charged extortionate fees by an agent, it’s almost enough to make you just sit tight where you are. However, there are ways you can avoid being stung and find the best rental deal for you. Here are my top 10 ways to be a savvy renter in London;
1.Choose a good platform to discover properties with
Whether it’s a website loaded with properties all over London, or a cutting-edge mobile app that lets you secure viewings and pay your initial deposit through the platform,, where you choose to start your property search matters. Make sure you choose a platform that works for you, and provides the best options for your search.
2. Scope out your preferred areas in advance
Choose an area of town that truly suits you – not just the area where your friend posted a picture of themselves having avocado toast on Instagram. Trendy areas come and go, so make sure you pick the right area that you will be happy living in for at least a whole year. Take factors such as schools, shops and transport links into consideration.
3. Don’t get ripped off by “relo-agents”
When searching for properties, don’t be tempted to sign up with relocation agents. They’ll charge you extortionate administration fees and you’ll be paying enough in rent already. Choose a platform which is free to use for renters – with no strings attached.
4. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
Some agents will try and lure you in with a “fake listing” at a suspiciously cheap price, only to spam your email with a load of overpriced properties once you make contact. Also, make sure you don’t get fooled into viewing a basement flat – the landlord has probably been struggling to shift it for months, hence the low rent price.
5. Understand how your deposit will be protected
Agents are legally required to use a government-approved deposit protection scheme which holds your deposit in escrow to safeguard your cash. If they don’t sign you up with one, they’re acting unlawfully. Clarify the details before signing the contracts.
6. Utility bills
Some contracts include the price of bills but some others don’t. However, it is against the law for landlords to insert clauses into your contracts which prevent you from switching to a cheaper energy or internet provider. If a preventative clause is included in your contract, inform the landlord that this is illegal. You usually won’t be able to switch providers without the landlord’s consent, but landlords are required by law to entertain your requests.
7. Use the viewings to your advantage
Viewings are a chance to ask as many questions as you can. Do the current tenants have any tips? Make sure you satisfy your end of the bargain as well. If you’ve arranged viewings with an agent, don’t be late – worse still, don’t stand them up. Be nice to agents as ultimately, they’re the ones who will recommend you to the landlord. The more reliable you are, the likelier you are to sign on smoothly, especially if there are several prospective tenants.
As with many forms of business transaction, it doesn’t hurt to hold something back initially. Don’t be afraid to ‘lowball’ with a lesser amount than the advertised monthly rent. You never know, the landlord may accept your offer because he wants to shift the property quickly.
9. If you want the landlord to provide something, get it in the contract
People often find a place they like but just want a couple of things improved before moving in. Make sure the right to ask for something to be changed (landlord to provide a new fridge, landlord to re-plaster the bedroom wall) is included in the contract. This way, it won’t have to come out of your own pocket.
10. Take back control
Remember, you’re the customer, you’re in charge. Agents can sometimes forget they’re in a service industry that is supposed to be client-oriented. Don’t be pushed around by aggressive agents – take your time, go to multiple viewings and be prepared with a list of questions.