People relocate to the United Kingdom for various reasons, and here are just a few of them: to change jobs, study at a university, volunteer, set up a business, receive medical treatment, get a child admitted to a UK independent school, reunite with family members, etc. We will not talk about the benefits of living in the UK, with its high living standards and stable economy, since you are probably already aware of them.
No matter why you move to the UK you will need to rent property here at some point. This may apply even to those who plan to purchase their own flat or house. We recommended renting a property first in the area where you want to buy to understand whether it works for you. Buying a flat or a house in an area that you do not know much about can lead to disappointment and additional costs when you try to fix the situation.
There are many letting agencies that will help you with renting a property. Aggregator websites and websites of letting agencies usually feature a lot of shiny descriptions and colourful photos of the available rental options. It may seem that using the services of a real estate agent can make your life easier. However, you should be aware of a few things.
Always remember that British letting agencies always act in the landlord’s interests. Colourful photos do not always reflect reality and can be sugar coating for meagre apartments. Your real estate agent will not tell you about the flaws of the property you are going to rent. This may cause problems and create additional costs. A tenancy agreement does not always work in the tenant’s favour, and you might end up paying a higher than the market rent.
Imperial & Legal’s advisors strongly believe that a rented flat must meet the tenant’s basic needs and have a reasonable price that will not squeeze the budget of a person who has just arrived in the country.
We recommend you contact an advisor before signing a tenancy agreement who knows the British real estate market and is aware of all intricacies. They will help you find the best property for a reasonable price in a good neighbourhood with well-developed infrastructure and easily commutable to your office, school, or university.
Imperial & Legal always prioritises tenants’ interests. We have access to property listings that are not on the open market. Our agents will organise viewings of the properties you like and ensure that the tenant’s interests are protected in the tenancy agreement.
Low-rise houses make up the majority of the British rental market. In the UK, you can rent an apartment, a flat, a terraced house, a semi-detached or a detached house. The available options depend on the area where you are going to live, your needs and preferences, and your budget. Here are the most common types of accommodation.
The housing sector in London, Manchester, and Birmingham offers three types of property:
The rental market in London is huge, so everyone can find a solution according to their means. To do it quicker and more efficiently, make a list of what your rented property must have and allocate a budget. You can pay more and live central, or you can get cheaper rent and live in the suburbs. Imperial & Legal’s agents always keep the client’s needs in mind when searching for rented accommodation.
As a rule, the better the location, the more expensive it is. High-end properties are usually in perfect condition; they come with built-in appliances and are fully or partly furnished. Nevertheless, it will be mainly the location that will determine the rent. A renovated flat in a period house in Mayfair, central London, will cost more than a detached house in the suburbs.
A flat in a block of flats on the outskirts of London can be rented for a relatively small price. It will most probably be modern and offer convenient transport links, lower utility bills, and de-centralised heating.
Flats in low-rise blocks and terraced houses are also classed as affordable rental properties. They have a few unique advantages. You might end up with a small terrace or a cosy backyard garden. You may also get a free parking space nearby. Neighbours usually know each other and look after their properties.
A very typical rental property in the UK is a flat in a multistorey house that belongs to a professional landlord who lives off the rent. As a rule, landlords try to keep their properties clean and in good condition. To help them with that, they hire caretakers who not only collect rent but also make minor repairs and resolve the arising issues. If you rent a flat in the UK, you will not have any problems with finding a plumber or an electrician.
You can choose to rent a whole detached house in the UK. There are plenty of options from new builds with all utilities to centuries-old period buildings.
An obvious disadvantage of such a property is the high rent and additional costs, including taxes. Even if you plan to rent a newly built house, it’s better to consult experienced agents who will be able to detect the defects of the chosen property before a tenancy agreement is signed.
Here is a summary:
Old buildings are less energy efficient. However, a boiler or a gas heater will help you to regulate indoor temperature and optimise costs. According to the current rules, all rented properties must be given an energy efficiency rating. We recommend you check it before renting a flat or a house. New builds would usually have higher energy efficiency rating because they use modern materials and technologies. In one way or another, almost all flats and houses have heating systems that allow at least to adjust the indoor temperature.
Imperial & Legal’s experts prepared two tables for different boroughs so that you can get a general idea of how much it costs to rent in London. The figures are average. A flat or a house in a better location will cost more.
Table 1. Average rental costs in Inner London
Table 2. Average rental costs in Outer London
As a rule, properties in London are more expensive than in other parts of the country. In Birmingham or Surrey, for example, a one-bedroom flat will cost you the same as a studio in Inner London.
A typical tenancy is based on a weekly rent. A landlord in the UK also requests a deposit that is put into the tenancy deposit scheme. By law, the deposit cannot exceed five or six weeks of rent.
Landlords would typically collect rent once per month if you can provide proof of stable income and a clean rental record in the UK. If not and if you have just arrived in the UK, you might have to pay 6- or 12-month rent upfront.
An experienced advisor acting on your behalf may negotiate a lower upfront payment. However, we recommend you set more relocation money aside in case you will have to pay a higher upfront rent.
If you are a freelancer or a student, your landlord will ask you to name a guarantor before you rent their property. A holder of a UK work visa who rents a property in the UK for the first time and does want to pay a six- or twelve-month rent in advance will also need a guarantor.
Who is a guarantor? A guarantor is an individual or a company resident in the UK who guarantees that a landlord will get their rent if the tenant fails to pay it themselves.
The guarantor (a UK resident or an authorised representative of a UK company) must sign your tenancy agreement alongside the tenant’s signature. Tenants (students or freelancers) must pay for the guarantor’s services. UK work visa holders can ask their employer to act as guarantor free of charge so that they could avoid a huge upfront payment.
Council Tax is a fixed monthly charge on a property by local authorities. The rate depends on the location. It is usually higher in central boroughs than on the outskirts.
Council tax, like other utility bills, is not normally included in the rent. A tenant is responsible for paying it, so check the rate before renting the property.
If you rent a high-end property you might become liable for a stamp duty when your cumulative rent exceeds £250,000 (for tenancy agreements signed after 23 September 2022).
Imperial & Legal’s experts prepared three examples of properties available to rent in different boroughs of London and the south of England.
Imperial & Legal is not a letting agency that protects the landlord’s interests and the interests of other letting agencies. We act on our client’s behalf and are unbiased in our view on all available rental options. We search for all available rental properties in the area that our client wants to live in and negotiate the best possible rental conditions. Thanks to our extensive expertise, we can identify all the pitfalls and disadvantages of the deal and inform our clients about them. Our advisors take care of all admin tasks, check all the tenancy documents for properties in London or other parts of England, and liaise with all the parties of the deal, including letting agencies, verification companies, etc.
We practise a one-stop-shop approach where we offer our clients a full range of services based on their needs and budget.
You would not have to be present for all these steps. Your presence will be mostly required for viewings. But even then virtual property tours are now available. When the choice is made and all conditions are agreed upon, our advisors will arrange for a deal to be signed remotely. All you will have to do is to move into your new home.
You may think that your deposit will be held by your landlord for the whole period of tenancy. However, in the UK, the government acts as an intermediary in the tenant-landlord relationship. To avoid any disagreements and issues with deposit return, your money is protected by the government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.
Your landlord must put the deposit into a third-party depository and provide you with the appropriate documentary evidence.
No, they won’t. A tenant is not liable for fair wear and tear unless the tenancy agreement states otherwise. As a rule, tenants do not have to paint or re-paper the walls and change carpets even if their tenancy is for several years.
The right of first refusal is governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. According to it, when a landlord decides to sell their property or share (for example, a flat in a house), they must offer it to their tenants first before advertising it in the open market.
In other words, if your landlord decided to sell their property, you, as tenants, will be the first in line to purchase it. You can refuse to buy it, and when a new owner purchases it, they become a new party to your tenancy agreement. The agreement does not terminate, and you will occupy the property till the end of the tenancy.
Before your tenancy agreement expires, you must inform your landlord whether you want to extend or re-sign it. You must do so within the period specified in your current agreement. If you extend your tenancy and it does not stipulate the amount of rent increase, your landlord is free to offer you a new rate which you will have to accept. Rental conditions usually remain the same, but you can try to add some new terms if required. Re-signing a tenancy agreement means you will have to re-negotiate a new agreement from scratch.
When you extend your tenancy agreement and your rent changes, the deposit is increased or remains the same at the landlord’s discretion.
We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.
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