🏠 Life in the UK
February 8, 2024
Updated on
February 8, 2024

Renting a flat in London

Renting a flat in London

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.

How renting works in the UK

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.

Average cost

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.

Affordable London neighbourhoods

Neighbourhood Area Average monthly rent Location Crime rate
Barking and Dagenham East London £1,200 15km to Central London average crime rate 4/10
Bexley South West London £1,100 20km to Central London one of the safest areas
Sutton South London £1,100 17km to Central London low crime rate
Havering South East London £1,150 London is accessible by tube and bus (25km) low crime rate
Croydon South London £1,129 14km to Central London. Historic location one of the safest areas
Hillingdon close to Heathrow airport £1,250 25km to Central London. Historic location low crime rate
Enfield North London £1,265 10km to Central London. Cheap transport fares low crime rate

What to pay attention to when checking in

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.

2. Heating

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:

  • police and fire services
  • recreational facilities
  • garbage collection
  • road maintenance

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:

  • lease commencement date
  • rent amount and terms of its payment
  • clause on reconsideration of the rent amount
  • length of any agreement for a fixed term
  • name and address of your landlord

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:

  • when you can use the clause;
  • how long you will still have to pay after you submit it.
📌 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.

Everything about deposits

Holding Deposit

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:

  • What is the deposit for?
  • What happens to the deposit if my application is successful?
  • What happens to the deposit if my application is not successful?
  • How and when will I get it back?

Tenancy Deposit

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.

Who guarantees the safety of the deposit?

The landlord must safeguard the deposit with one of the three official agencies and must also tell you about it.

1. Deposit Protection Service

2. Tenancy Deposit Scheme

3. Mydeposits

When will the deposit be returned?

  • The deposit will be refunded when you terminate the contract;
  • The landlord is only obliged to return the deposit in full if they have no claims against you, e.g. in the form of breakdowns that are your fault;
  • If the landlord decides to withhold the deposit – ask for an official reason for the withholding;
  • It’s also a good idea to take photos before you move in – this way, you’ll have proof in case of a dispute.
📌 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.
2. Fronted
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.
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