14th Jun 2012 12:05pm | By Editor
Asking yourself where to live in London? Well not only can we tell you the Aussie hotspots but we can tell you everything you need to know about renting in London.
Welcome to the UK, fresh off the plane with just a couple of suitcases. Now it’s time to start looking for a place. With a little bit of searching, you’ll find what you’re looking for among central London’s many close-built flats, or a little further out in a bigger house with a bit more space.
Don’t panic when you’re looking. It can be a bit scary, thanks to the highly competitive nature of the housing market – good places can go within hours – but someone’s got to get them. With a bit of searching, you’ll find a new home away from home soon enough.
For most travellers arriving in London for the first time, a hostel will be the first port of call while they search for somewhere to live permanently.
It’s a great way to meet like-minded people (who may end up being your roommates) and also gives you a bit more time to get acquainted with the city.
London has seven YHA (yha.org.uk) hostels across London – two in the West End, and others in King’s Cross, Holland Park, Earl’s Court, the City and Canada Water. Another popular one with travellers is The Generator Hostel in King’s Cross.
It’ll cost around £15 per night for a shared dorm, but you can pay a little bit extra for a room with fewer people. Always make sure you ask for weekly rates if you’re staying for more than a couple of nights.
Another good place to start when you arrive in a new country is where you know people, and chances are you know at least a couple of mates in London whose sofa you can crash on for a few days while you find a place. But remember to clean up after yourself and contribute £5-£10 a week towards bills.
When you’ve got your head around the city layout and you’re ready to regain your privacy after dossing down in a hostel for a couple of weeks, make the leap and find your own pad.
If you’re up for living on your own, a good, cheap option is a bedsit – a self-contained room with a small kitchen-bedroom-living room in one and a shared bathroom. These start from around £85 per week in London. If you can’t face sharing a bathroom with strangers, opt for a slightly pricier (at least £100 per week) studio apartment, which will have a bathroom tacked on.
TNT Magazine and tntmagazine.com/accommodation are among the best places to look for somewhere to live. Also check out our handy online neighbourhood guides for ideas on where to settle.
House or flat share
Houseshares are a great way of keeping costs down when you’re renting a place, and they’re a fun place to embark on your new life in a new city. You’ll find loads around London on websites like gumtree.com or spareroom.co.uk, and TNT’s website is also a great place to start.
Speed Flatmating is also a good way to meet new, like-minded people to move in with. With the same ethos as speed dating, events are organised by spareroom.co.uk.
If you’ve met some people travelling or you’ve arrived with mates from home and want to get a place together, hit up estate agents and rental websites like primelocation.com and rightmove.co.uk to find a flat or house.
Due to high demand, rents have gone up a lot in the last year in London so expect to pay from £100 per week for a double room.
But if you’re game for socks on the door handle and squabbles over space for a while, get a roomshare to save on dosh. You can get these for about £50 a week, though it might not be wise if you’re looking for a long-term option.
Sometimes rent includes bills such as water and council tax or you could be lucky enough to score rent that includes electricity and gas too. It’s best to find out when you’re looking as bills take a big chunk of your monthly budget.
Expect to pay about £60 for gas, electricity, internet and council tax.
Council tax varies depending on which borough and property you live in and could cost anything from £17-£100 a month. The cheapest boroughs are Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, City of London and Southwark, which all charge an average of under £1,000 per year. Bills are when houseshares come in especially handy, as splitting them takes a lot of the strain off.
Where to live
When they move to London, antipodeans and South Africans usually settle in west London (in places such as Hammersmith, Fulham, Acton, Shepherd’s Bush), south London (Southfields, Clapham, Putney, Earlsfield) and north-west (Kilburn, Willesden, Dollis Hill and West Hampstead). But they’re also bridging the gap and moving further to the north and east, with more and more people heading to bohemian Camden and Angel or trendy east end spots like Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and Hackney.
Tenants have the right for their accommodation to be kept in a reasonable state of repair, and there are certain things a landlord is responsible for. These include basins, sinks, baths and toilets, water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, fixed and water heaters, the structure and exterior or the premises, such as walls, floors and window frames, as well as drains, gutters and external pipes, major structural repairs and common parts of the building like stairwells, lifts and gardens. If an appliance the landlord has supplied – such as a washing machine or cooker – breaks, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix it. That’s unless its failure was due to a tenant’s negligence.
If you need any advice on how to deal with any disagreements between you and your landlord, get in touch with Shelter housing charity (shelter.org.uk) for information.
Gas or electrical items your landlord has provided, including boilers, must be checked yearly. Ask your landlord for a copy of the Gas Safety record to check it’s all up to date. The landlord must also pay for any work to be carried out to make sure it’s safe. Fire resistant furniture has to be provided in furnished properties too.
Wear and tear
Tenants aren’t responsible for this. According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, if wear and tear on a property is so bad it could cause injury, like if springs stick out from a sofa or there’s a hole in the floor, the landlord must sort it out.
Tenants are entitled to 24 hours’ notice if the landlord is coming to the property for inspection.
What should you do if your landlord tries to evict you before the tenancy agreement is up? If it comes to this, and in most cases it won’t, then the landlord needs to have a court order. You have the right to stay in your home until the agreement ends unless there are valid reasons for eviction, which stand up in court, like unpaid rent or damage to the property.
Just as tenants have their rights, it’s best to keep in mind that landlords also have rights – it’s a two-way thing.
It may sound obvious, but landlords reserve the right to receive rent for their property. You could get charged rent up to the end of the notice period or tenancy agreement if you leave the property without proper notice. Landlords can take their tenants to court if they fail to pay rent to get them evicted, so not paying rent to bargain with your landlord may not be a smart move.
Treatment of property
Tenants are obliged to take care of the property by doing small jobs such as unblocking drains and cleaning windows. These are usually mentioned in the tenancy agreement. If they make any damage to furniture or fittings, the landlord should be told so they can agree on a repair or replacement. The tenant’s deposit may be used to cover costs for damages, or in serious cases, the landlord may go to court to get them evicted.
Right of entry
Landlords are permitted “reasonable access” to the property for repairs and in an emergency they can enter immediately. With 24 hours’ notice, they are permitted to visit the property for inspection and other non urgent tasks or repairs. This should be outlined in your contract.
A landlord is responsible for the building insurance, but they aren’t responsible for tenants’ contents. Anyone renting a property in London should arrange their own insurance cover for their possessions. Confused.com is a good site to start comparing prices for cover on your contents.
Tenants aren’t legally allowed to use rented accommodation for business purposes. If a tenant does so, landlords have the right to evict, so talk to your landlord first if you’re thinking of doing something like this.