Renting a flat in London – Vocabulary and tips

Hello English language students!


Photo by Brent Danley

I’ve just moved back to London and had to face the challenge of looking for a nice not too expensive one bedroom flat in one of Europe’s most expensive cities. Flat hunting in London can be a real pain in the arse (or ass if you’re American) so I would like to share with you what I’ve learnt together with some useful vocabulary.

You might want to start by choosing the borough where you would like to live. When doing this I would recommend you to check transport facilities as London is a very big city.

Picking your area first will make it easier for you to arrange viewings with the real estate agent (or realtor in Am English). You don’t want to waste too much time running from one viewing to the next.

The estate agent will usually carry out some checks to assure the landlord that you are the ideal tenant. Therefore, you could be asked to provide references from your previous landlord/landlady to make sure there were/are no arrears in your last flat. If you’re unemployed, you could be required to pay rent quarterly or give the name of a guarantor.

Deposit scheme. Make sure the landlord puts the deposit you give him or her into a deposit scheme where your money will be kept safely until you decide to vacate the premises. A deposit usually amounts to about six weeks worth of rent.

Ask the agent about the term of the tenancy agreement and the inclusion of a break clause that will enable you to leave before the tenancy period comes to an end. You might get tired of London’s hectic lifestyle and decide to flee the country!

Council tax. Apart from paying for utilities (gas, electricity etc), you will have to pay council tax. This is to fund the services provided by the local government.

Cost of travelling. Since there are eight different zones in London, you want to check whether the savings of cheap rent in zone five might be offset by having to pay a monthly travel card to go to zone one everyday (if you work there, for instance) which would cost you £199! Not to mention the hassle of commuting long distances.

Last tip: read carefully every clause of your tenancy agreement before signing it!

Good luck! 🙂