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How to rent a property in the UK?

The UK is a country where people from a wide range of professions are travelling to. It ranks fifth in the ranking of countries with the highest number of migrants.

This is why the problem of renting in Britain is so acute. Despite the abundance of accommodation on offer, it can be difficult to find a place that offers good value for money. Where to start looking? Where to look? What nuances should be considered in the process of selection and then the paperwork? Who should you turn to for help? In this guide we will discuss all the important issues related to renting accommodation in the UK.

Step 1: Define the characteristics

You have moved to the UK and have decided to look for accommodation. You will need to answer a few questions. These questions will determine the terms and conditions of your tenancy and the cost of renting.

What are you looking for: a house, a townhouse or a flat? How long do you need to rent for? Do you plan to live in different parts of the country? Or have you already decided on a city and travelling around the country is not in your plans? Do you have children? If so, where will they go to school? Are there schools ready to educate them?

Do you plan to travel to the office? If yes, in which neighbourhood is it located? How do you plan to get there? By public transport or do you want to rent a car? In the latter case, you will need a car park.

Houses and townhouses are much more comfortable than flats and more expensive. Few neighbours, their own, closed territory, sometimes (if it is a townhouse) – their own exit to the street, which does not have to be shared with neighbours, and there is a better chance that pets will be allowed.

A significant disadvantage is the price. The average price of renting a house in London is £4000-6000. A townhouse will be cheaper and cost £3000-4000 per month. In Britain, the rental price ratio is £2000-3000 per month for a small townhouse and £3000-5000 per month for a house.

In addition, you should take into account the fact that expensive housing does not necessarily mean that it is newly renovated. The high price may be due not only to the location, but also to the historical value of the building, the presence of nearby museums, schools, etc. The price of a Victorian house, for example, does not go down at all. Victorian houses, for example, do not decrease in price at all.

To make it easier for you to navigate your property choices, we’ve compiled a list of places where we think it makes sense to consider renting.

If you don’t have the need to visit London every day and only need to come to the capital 1-2 times a week, we recommend considering towns such as: St Albans, Slough, Guildford, Sevenoaks, Brentwood or Bracknell.

Short-term rentals here will cost £1500-2000 per month for a one-bedroom flat with no more than 55 metres of space. Long-term rentals can be found for £1200-1500 per month + utilities. There is no hustle and bustle of the metropolis, cleaner air and more chances to find the right accommodation for you.

The UK is very evenly developed and even in the smallest towns you can get the same, very high, standard of living. Shops, hospitals, schools and urban infrastructure are no different, no matter which county you find yourself in. So if the big cities are not affordable for you, you may want to consider the ‘countryside’ — small towns where house prices are very affordable.

The absolute leader in low flat prices is the harbour town of Hartlepool in the north-east of the country. In Hartlepool, the harbour town of Hartlepool in the north-east of the country, you can find a long-term rented flat for £500 on average.

The city with a population of 95 thousand people is suitable for those who want a measured life and do not need large shopping centres and amusement parks close to home.

Cities that are similar in terms of rental costs include: Cardiff, Durham, Swansea, Reading and York. These towns are small and well maintained, and are a good choice for those who like a relaxed country life.

It is also worth paying attention to cities such as: Glasgow, Carlisle and Perth. They offer rentals in a wide range of price ranges. The average cost of a flat here will range from £700-900 per month. There is a wide range of properties to choose from. The distance to London is 400 kilometres.

All of the above prices are very approximate and a slight increase in square footage, a fresher renovation or a nice view from the window can increase the price of the home significantly.

Step 2: Communicating with agencies

We’ve covered the local area and rental costs in detail. Now it’s time to focus on finding the right property for your needs.

It is important to consider the fact that you cannot rent a flat without the involvement of outsiders. There is an agency behind each flat, which is responsible for advertising, marketing and formalising the whole rental process, and usually manages the property once the tenancy has started.

Properties from owners are very rare. Therefore, there is a high probability that you will have to communicate with agencies during the rental process. They have up-to-date adverts and are willing to look for accommodation that meets your requirements.

Step 3: Offer

Let’s pretend that you and I have found a suitable housing option. What’s the next step? We need to send the landlord some information about ourselves. Who are you? Where do you work? How many people are planning to live in the flat? It is worth noting that there may be 3-4 applicants for one property (usually flats with a good price-quality ratio), so the landlord will want to organise a silent auction. The property will go to the highest bidder. You should decide straight away whether you want to participate, because all agreements made will remain with you until the end of the contract.

There are several important points to clarify at the outset. How often will there be inspection visits? Is it possible to stay with pets? What is the maximum capacity of the flat? How long and how many guests can you have? Have the locks been changed since the previous tenants moved out?

All agreements reached should be put in writing, and any faults discovered during the viewing of the flat, whether it is a non-working tap or a crack in the plumbing, should be written down separately. In the UK this is called an offer. Anything that is only verbal is not considered approved. The owner can accept your original offer or put forward a counteroffer if he is not prepared to make concessions on all points of the offer.

Our experts will check the tenancy agreement and make sure it includes the terms and conditions from the offertory and that it complies with UK law.

Step 4: Drawing up the documents

Offer accepted. What happens next?

You need to pay a security deposit. A deposit is an amount equal to one week’s rent that you pay to the letting agency to take the property off the market and keep it. It usually takes up to two weeks between paying the deposit and signing the tenancy agreement, after which the deposit is added to the rent or deposit.

Before you sign a tenancy agreement, you must undergo a welfare check — referencing. This check is carried out online by special organisations where they will ask you for documents.

It will need to be provided:

  • Right to rent share code. This code is generated based on your visa / BRP which allows you to live in the UK. A tenant is not allowed by law to rent to a person who does not have permission to stay legally in the country;

  • A bank statement proving your financial solvency;

  • Addresses where you have lived in the last 3 years.

Let’s dwell on some of the points in a little more detail.

Rent costs should not exceed 50 per cent of your income. In other words, if you plan to rent a flat for £2000 (+£200 to pay bills), then the minimum monthly income received in hand must be at least £4400. You can include statements of savings, including foreign accounts.

Why do you need a residential history?

This often applies if you have previously rented accommodation in the UK. The company that carries out the check will contact your previous landlord and ask for a reference for you. This is usually just confirmation that you have paid your rent correctly. If your previous address is outside the UK, it is technically more difficult to get this confirmation. This is sympathetic, so there will be no problem if you don’t get a reference from outside the UK, but you will still need to provide all your addresses.

Step 5: Signing the contract and paying the rent

Referencing has been successful. Moving on.

A contract — the lease itself — must be signed. The contract is the document that approves all the rules and all the relations between the parties, including payment issues.

The text of the contract is agreed and accepted by all parties. On the basis of the signed contract you give the deposit and the first instalment of rent.

Deposit — money that is held in a government deposit scheme and returned when the tenancy is over. This is the amount of money from which costs can potentially be taken to compensate for damage to the property caused by the tenant. It is equal to the cost of 5-6 weeks’ rent.

The tenant must be provided with documentary evidence of the placement of funds in a depository scheme.

If the tenant does not agree with the amount charged for damage to the flat, he/she has the right to dispute it. It is for this purpose that we recommend that you thoroughly inspect the property before signing the tenancy agreement, paying attention to even minor damages and detailing them in the agreement. If you do not do this, you will most likely have to pay for the damages.

Check-in & check-out reports are often prepared. At the end of the tenancy they are compared and any new damage must be repaired by the tenant. It is these damages that are deducted from the deposit.

In Britain, owners usually ask you to pay either monthly or for a long period of up to 12 months. It is important that you have a work contract in the country and the help of a competent solicitor.

Do you need a spacious house for a large family or a cosy flat close to your child’s work and school? Whatever you are looking for, our experts can help you find the right property for you. Our unrivalled knowledge and experience of the local property market enables us to provide our clients with the most valuable advice and guidance.

We guarantee that we will find rental accommodation easily, quickly and tactfully, thanks to our exclusive knowledge of this diverse market, and offer you the most favourable options to choose from. Imperial & Legal consultants will help you define your search criteria, select the most interesting offers, accompany you in all negotiations, check the terms of the contract, finalise the deal and help you settle in.

Frequently asked questions about renting a home in the UK

Are there areas where foreigners are not allowed to rent property?

There are no such areas in the UK. Moreover, non-British passport holders are allowed to buy property and land in all places, including London.

Do I need a criminal record certificate to rent a home?

No, this document is not required. The landlord is more interested in your income level so that he can cover the rent.

Will I be rented accommodation if I do not provide all the required documents?

If you do not pass the referencing process, unfortunately you may be refused a tenancy.

What is a “break clause”?

In the UK it can be quite difficult to move out of a property before the end of your tenancy. You may be able to move out, but you will have to pay the rent until the end of the tenancy or until new tenants are found. In this case there is such a thing as a ‘break clause’. This is a clause in a contract that allows you to break the contract before the end date. “Break clause” is stipulated in advance at the offer stage, after agreement with the owner. It must necessarily be spelled out in the contract. “Break clause” can be set after 2 months or a year, but most often it is 6 months.

The “Break clause” is not to be confused with the “Notice” — the period when you can give notice to the landlord that you want to end the tenancy. Usually you must give notice 2 months before your expected departure date.

If I am currently unemployed but have saved up a lot of money and want to rent a place on a long-term lease, will they let it to me?

Yes, they will, but they will require you to pay for the entire rental period at once, for example, for a year. And if your savings are not enough to cover such a long period at once, you can find a guarantor.

Who's the guarantor?

This is a UK resident who is willing to vouch for you. This is someone with an income who will be willing to pay your rent for you in the event of an emergency. This person should preferably own a property and have a good credit history. In addition to being a guarantor, the guarantor will need bank documents and will have to go through the same vetting process as the tenant.

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