Renting in London is expensive. Well, actually, everything in London is mad expensive, but rent is normally the biggest outgoing expense most Londoners have to budget for (freak out about) each month. Whether you’re moving to London from elsewhere in the UK or from abroad, when you start looking for a place to live the price of rent could make you think twice about coming at all.
Here’s a tip: the sooner you stop comparing the rents in London to those in your hometown, the sooner you’ll stop weeping into your keyboard as you miserably browse flat-share sites.
“Fuck, that much just for a room? In Croydon?! I could rent a whole house in Barcelona for that!” is not a helpful mantra; you’ll do better with “Oooh, it’s got a double bed AND the kitchen doesn’t look mouldy!”
So, a quarter of all Londoners privately rent their accommodation, and most of these are under 35 years old – myself included. I’ve actually just done flat-hunting… it sucks, especially at this time of year. Did you know there’s a housing crisis on? Finding a place you like is half the battle, you also have to convince the agent or landlord that you’ll be a good tenant and that they really should rent to you. It’s like the Hunger Games, except the prize is finding a place to live.
So, when you’ve finally found a place to live, that you can afford, with people you don’t hate, in an area that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, that’s only an hour away from where you work, and you’ve somehow managed to convince the landlord/estate agent/dude on gumtree that you are the right tenant rather than the other 50 people who want to live there… There’s still a load more stuff you have to do before you can move in.
Before the flat is truly “yours” – (i.e nobody else can look at it or sign a lease on it) you have to put up the money. This is typically the first month’s rent + a deposit + estate agent/admin fee. This’ll probably total about £1500: here I’m assuming a month’s rent is £500, the deposit is 6 weeks’ worth of rent (£750) and the admin fee could be anything from £50 – £250. You need to have this money available at short notice: there’s nothing worse than finally finding a good flat and then losing it because you didn’t have the money ready.
Wait, there’s more.
You’ll need to provide identification: your driving licence or Passport will usually do it.
You need references from your previous landlord, mostly so they can be sure you’re not likely to smear marmite all over the walls and call it art, or you like to start fires in your wardrobe, etc. If it’s the first time you’re living away from home, or you used to live abroad, or there’s some other good reason why you can’t provide a reference from a landlord, then you need to get a character reference. This can be from your tutor at uni, a family friend, a colleague, etc. Anybody really who can confirm that you’re not likely to start a brothel in the apartment, or have your entire extended family move in once you’ve signed the lease.
You’ll also need a reference from your employer, this is to check that you do in fact have a job and do actually earn enough to cover the rent. If you’re a student, you’ll need to show the proof of your student loan payments. Often, and I hate how unnecessarily intrusive this is, they’ll ask you for bank statements going back 3 months. I’ve no idea how it helps them to know how often you go to Starbucks, or how much your phone bill is, but it’s one of those hoops you have to jump through.
That’s about it! Once you’ve sorted all that paperwork and signed a lease, it’s yours! You can move in! Just try not to think about the fact that you’ll have to do the whole process again in a year… Push that thought from your mind and enjoy your new place!