Together with Repit, a turn-key property search service, we've compiled all the useful information on renting an apartment in London. Read away to find out what to look out for when renting, what fees to pay, and what the average price range is.
In the UK, it is not the tenant who chooses the landlord but the other way round. So, if you like a flat, you send the landlord an offer including the price you’re willing to pay, the length of the contract (e.g., 2-3 years) and the "aggravating circumstances" (e.g., pets). The landlord receives several offers at once and chooses which one to accept.
References from your former landlords are also very important – they can confirm your tidiness, on-time payment and attest to you being a responsible tenant.
Landlords in the UK usually prefer to quote a price per week rather than per month.
📌 The formula to find out how much you’ll need to pay is:
Monthly rent = Weekly rent * 52 (number of weeks) / 12 (number of months)
So, if you see an ad for £300 per week, you’ll pay up to £1,500.
When renting an apartment, the deposit can be up to 6 weeks rent and in addition, you will probably have to pay up to a month's rent in advance. This could amount to up to £1,500 depending on the value of your tenancy.
1. Check-in report
The day before you move in, an agent comes to the flat with a check-in report to do an apartment inventory.
We advise you to be present during this process, as it is in your best interest to point out any shortcomings in the report. This will save you from overpaying later.
Also, sometimes you’ll come across rodents (mice, rats) in some apartments, especially on lower floors. Be sure to check all corners and, if you find a hole, ask your landlord to solve the problem. Besides, if you notice mould in your accommodation, you should also alert your landlord straight away. Describe the furniture/belongings that are damaged/covered by mould. Once you report the problem, the landlord must respond within 14 days, arrange an inspection to determine the cause of the mould and, if necessary, ensure that repairs are made.
It’s important to note that gas heating is considerably cheaper than the electric one. So, if you’re only allowed electric heating, be prepared to pay extra for housing and communal services.
Electric heating, on average, costs £350/year more than traditional gas systems. According to OVO Energy, the average British home using gas heating spends about £550 a year, while using electric storage heaters costs almost £900/year.
Also, make sure to check the boiler. If it is too old, ask the landlord to either put its free replacement in the contract (in case it breaks) or ask for a new one.
Sidenote: not all flats in London have modern plastic windows, so stock up on special insulation and films that mimic double glazing (be sure to discuss this in advance with your landlord as well).
3. Recommended monthly rent
As a general rule, you want to spend no more than 35% of your monthly income on rent.
Rent + Electricity + Gas + Water + Internet + TV licence + Council Tax = Rent per month
4. The most convenient service for comparing utility and internet prices is uSwitch
5. TV licence
The price for a TV licence is £159 a year. You have to pay if you watch programmes on any TV channel, use online services such as ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV, or download/watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.
6. Monitor the taxes
Officially, the only charge you’ll have to pay is the Council Tax. It’s an annual tax that your local municipality charges for the services they provide:
The amount of tax you pay depends on the value of your home and where you live.
There are eight different bands, from A to H, and each band covers the price range which residential property falls into. You can check out the price range here.
7. Lease agreement
The landlord must include the following information in the lease agreement:
Your landlord must also provide you with the latest gas safety certificate and energy efficiency certificate for the building.
8. Break clause
The break clause (or termination clause) must clearly state:
📌 For example:
"This contract may be terminated by the landlord or the tenant by written notice at least 2 months before the expiry of the contract at any time after 6 months from the beginning of this contract."
Simply put, the tenant in this example has to live in the flat for at least 6 months before they will be allowed to serve notice. The tenant will have to pay rent for another 2 months from the date the notice is served, which means that they can also live there for another 2 months.
Holding Deposit is an amount of money, usually not more than the weekly value of the rent, that is given in order to reserve a property (since apartments go off like hotcakes). Once all your information is verified and you sign the contract, the deposit will be returned to you.
It is not a good idea to "book" several options this way. Use Holding Deposit only if you are sure you want to rent a flat.
Also, always talk through the terms of the deposit return:
Tenancy Deposit, or simply a deposit, is the amount the landlord keeps in addition to the rent.
If your annual rent is less than £50,000, the deposit will amount to the payment for 5 weeks' rent (max).
📌 Monthly rent x 12 ÷ 52 x 5 = Max Tenancy Deposit
If your annual rent is more than £50,000, the maximum rental deposit is limited to 6 weeks' rent.
The landlord must safeguard the deposit with one of the three official agencies and must also tell you about it.
When will the deposit be returned?
📌 Repit recommends:
1. Zero Deposit
SchemesInstead of paying a deposit, you can reach out to certain UK companies that insure the flat. The landlord doesn't pay for it. For you, the cost will come to about a week's rent + service charge. However, these schemes don’t cover the damage that’s been done after the end of the tenancy.
Fronted is a company that lends money when the old deposit hasn’t yet been refunded, but you already need to pay a new one. To apply for Fronted’s help, you must have a deposit protected with a government-approved scheme. Also, if your new deposit is larger than your old deposit, you must pay the difference.