Moving-to-the-_UKWhen travelling or moving to London, one of the first things newcomers want to do is find somewhere to live. Although you are likely to see hundreds of adverts offering cheap accommodation, knowing what is right for you is not always easy. Here we take a look at some of the most important things to consider when renting property in London.

Rent from an agency or direct from a landlord?

Advantages of letting agencies include help finding a suitable property, rent appropriate for the area of London, constant support and assistance with repairs/problems. The major disadvantage is that agencies tend to charge high administration fees.

Advantages of renting directly with the landlord are that you can avoid administration fees and might have the possibility to negotiate the monthly rental price. Disadvantages include difficulties contacting the landlord if something goes wrong, agreeing on the terms of a rental contract and disputes regarding the return of deposits at the end of a contract.

Should you choose to go through a letting agency then at Zoopla.co.uk, PropertyLive.co.uk and Yellow Pages you will find an extensive list of agents in London. For confirmation of credibility and to clear up any doubts about your chosen letting agency, visit the National Association of Estate AgentsThe National Approved Letting Scheme and SAFE agent.

Where to look for flats and houses

From newspapers and the internet to adverts in shop windows and cyber cafés, there are many places to find flat and house listings. Useful websites for London include FoxtonsGumtreeFind A PropertyPrimeLocationLoot and Right Move. The classified section of the London Evening Standard newspaper and its online affiliate Homesandproperty.co.uk are excellent sources of information, as is the free newspaper TNT Magazine, available in pubs, hostels and internet cafés.

If you are looking for shared accommodation as opposed to your own flat or house, then affordable spare rooms are constantly available via Spareroom.co.uk, FlatMateRooms.co.uk, Roombuddies.com and  IntoLondon.com.

Being new to London, you will also want to choose the most suitable and affordable area for your requirements and budget. The following provides detailed information on a variety of London neighbourhoods.

Tenancy agreements

Unless you are renting from someone very well-known to you, such as good friend or family member, your tenancy agreement is extremely important and will help you should you encounter any problems with the property, landlord or letting agent.

Before signing a tenancy agreement, make sure you understand everything it says. The following are some important things to check before agreeing to the terms:

– the name of the tenant and full property address

– the name and address of the landlord and the letting agent (if an agent is used)

– how much the rent is, when it is due and how it should be paid

– the length of the contract and if it is renewable

– what the terms are if you decide to move out before the end of the tenancy

– is the property furnished or unfurnished

– who is responsible for repairs

– whether a deposit has to be paid and under what terms is it returnable

– whether the rent covers bills, such as water, electricity, gas, internet, telephone andCouncil Tax.

Council Tax is collected by the local authorities in order to pay for local and public services, including schools, roads, libraries, police, fire service and refuse collection.

Information on your rights and a full list of what a tenancy agreement should include is available at Shelter.org.uk.

Be aware of scams

Unfortunately, there are many people whose aim is to steal other people’s money. Whereas good deals can be found at Gumtree and Craigslist, the two websites are also notorious for misleading and fake adverts, therefore it is important to be able to spot a scam. Scammers usually offer multiple properties at extremely cheap prices. They will also ask for deposits to be paid via Paypal or Western Union. Never pay anything before viewing a property and signing an agreement.

Always apply common sense and if something looks too good to be true then it probably is. If you are replying to an advert placed in a shop or internet café then only view the property with a friend. Never go alone, especially if the area of London is unfamiliar to you.

Useful links

You can find out more about renting in London at Direct.gov.uk and Adviceguide.org.uk (part of the Citizens Advice Bureau). Furthermore, the London Rents Map and Net-Lettings.co.uk provide useful information on the average rental prices within London and its many neighbourhoods.