Complete Guide to Renting Property in South London
Rented properties now make up a third of the total properties in England and Wales and in London renting has become the norm. Almost a third of all homes in the capital are rented and increasing property prices indicate that this trend will continue well into the future. Renting allows for flexibility and lets people to live more centrally when they would otherwise not be able to afford to buy.
Firstly, if you’re looking to rent in South London, you need to work with an excellent Letting Agent – that’s where we come in. Secondly you need a general understanding of the process and the issues involved – that’s where the guide below comes in.
Before you start
Once you find a suitable property there will be fees and costs involved in setting up the tenancy agreement and completing the relevant credit checks. There will also be a security deposit and a minimum of one-month rent will be required up front, so to avoid delays later make sure these costs will not be a problem when they are presented.
There are a number of documents that will also be required, such as immigration status, employment status, proof of I.D. and potentially your credit history.
Finding the right tenancy
You will need to consider over what period of time you require the tenancy. There are fees imposed when extending a fixed tenancy so it is better to have a clear view of how long you need the property for. Most London tenancies run for a minimum of six months although since 1996 there has been no legal minimum length of a tenancy agreement.
Finding a suitable home
You need to consider how your property will accommodate your lifestyle. For example, do you need space for car parking? Do you require a garden?
Deciding whether to rent furnished or unfurnished often doesn´t make a big difference to the price of the rent. However, if you are sharing with several other people, will you trust them with your furniture? In a furnished flat you may lose some of your deposit if there are any damages, even if you weren´t individually responsible. Contents cover can help with this, but it can be difficult to find a company to insure your possessions in shared accommodation, particularly if you don´t have a lock on your room.
Where to look
Finding properties to let in London can be difficult because of the demand. Many properties, are snapped up within days of being on the market so the earlier you start looking the better. Two thirds of Londoners want to be less than a 10-minute walk from a tube station so bear this is mind when looking for affordable tenancies. For more affordable properties consider renting a property close to overground connections or a bus route instead. The website commutefrom.com calculates your commute and can be useful when selecting an area to rent in.
Parts of South London have some of the cheapest rents in London, in areas like Croydon, Eltham and Woolwich prices can range from £450 to £800. When looking for rent prices the new London Rent Map website run by the government can help you find the most affordable areas.
If the idea of sharing with other people doesn´t appeal to you, there are affordable options in areas like Streatham Hill, Battersea and Clapham, where many large Victorian properties have been converted into bedsits and individual one bed flats.
Start you search using our property search and we’re sure you’ll find what you are looking for.
When you have found a property you like it’s essential to book a viewing quickly. Eleven tenants chase every new property on the market in the capital so competition is high and good quality properties go very quickly.
There are certain questions which you will want to ask.
- Are utilities and council tax included in the rent? If they are not, what will the likely additional cost be? Is broadband set up or will you have to install it?
- Which furnishings will be in the property when you move in?
- How much is the deposit? Will your deposit be protected in a deposit protection scheme? Which scheme will they be using? (If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the most common form of tenancy in England and Wales, your landlord is legally obliged to protect your deposit in a protection scheme.)
- What fees are required at the beginning of the tenancy?
- Are there fees if you decide to extend or renew the tenancy?
- What period of notice do you need to give before terminating the tenancy?
- Who maintains the property?
- Is smoking permitted?
Check the small details like running the taps, ensure the shower runs hot, the doors lock properly, the smoke alarms all work correctly and if the postbox is secure or in a shared area.
If you are sharing the property with other people, make sure you meet them before entering into a contract to ensure personality compatibility, and ask questions about the living conditions, environment and the landlord.
Setting up the tenancy
Setting up the tenancy will involve several one-off payments. There will be a tenancy fee for compiling the relevant paperwork and conducting the necessary checks. You are also likely to be asked for at least your first month’s rent and a deposit in advance so have this ready.
Students or first time renters usually have to provide a guarantor. This is often a parent or guardian who will be responsible for the debt should the tenant not be able to pay. If you have rented before and have references from previous landlords, then this won´t be necessary.
When you receive your written tenancy agreement read it carefully. If you have any queries, ask us or get independent advice from elsewhere. Get the landlord to complete an inventory and, if possible, be present when it is being conducted. Only sign it once you have checked and agree with it and if the landlord removes anything from the property during the rental, get them to note and sign it on the inventory. It is a good idea to take photos of the objects at this stage to minimize disputes when moving out of the property about its contents.
Your landlord should provide you with the following documents:
- A gas certificate - the landlord has a responsibility to arrange an annual gas safety check by a registered engineer and issue a copy to each tenant.
- Details of the deposit protection scheme - the landlord is required to place the deposit in a government approved scheme and give the tenant the details to reclaim the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
- An energy performance certificate - the landlord at least needs to have this available to produce when required, they cannot evict the tenant unless this has been shown.
- Electrical inspections records - the electrical installations of the property are the landlord’s responsibility to maintain for the duration of the rental.
Before moving make sure you make arrangements for your post to be redirected to avoid losing anything important. Purchasing contents insurance is also advised as your furniture is unlikely to be protected under the landlord’s insurance policy.
When the big day finally arrives and you are all set to move into your new home, take photos of gas and electricity meter readings and change the name on the utilities account. Take down the landlords contact details and keep them accessible throughout the tenancy for use in any emergencies.
After settling in and adjusting to your new home it is advisable to set up a standing order to pay the rent so that it arrives in the relevant account on time.
During the Tenancy
As a tenant you have several responsibilities while renting:
- To pay the rent on time every month.
- To look after the property (and furniture if furnished) and keep it clean and in good condition. You will need to leave the property as you found it or you risk losing your deposit.
- To be considerate and respectful of the surrounding neighbours and community, repeated noise complaints or anti-social behavior can result in your eviction.
- To report any problems or repairs. Don´t undertake any repairs or redecoration without your landlord´s permission.
- Notify your landlord if you are going away for more than 14 days.
- Keep the property locked and secure.
The landlord also has responsibilities:
- To maintain the structural integrity of the property.
- Insure the building in the event of a fire or flood.
- Maintain the furnishings and appliances (if provided) in good working order and are fire safety compliant.
- Deal with plumbing and electrical issues.
- Arrange an annual gas safety check.
Ending the Tenancy
As the fixed tenancy draws to a close you will often have the option to extend the tenancy. Signing up to another fixed term usually incurs a fee so you will need to check this with your Landlord. It may also be possible to keep the tenancy on a rolling, month-by-month basis. This means that you have the same agreement but are able to terminate the agreement by simply giving one month’s notice, however once the fixed tenancy period expires the landlord is able to increase the rent by legal agreement.
Once you have given your required notice and decided to end the tenancy, there are just a couple of things left to do. Make sure you have thoroughly cleaned the property and are returning it to the landlord in the condition you found it with all the furniture agreed on in the inventory. Take pictures to demonstrate you have completed this just in case there is any dispute about the condition in which you left the property (if you got the property professional cleaned keep the receipts).
After the inventory and property have been checked and both parties are happy with the condition of property the deposit should be returned. If the full amount is not returned any deductions must be fully explained and if you have any queries about the validity of the deductions, it is imperative that you contact a representative of the deposit scheme your landlord used.