Renting a flat usually begins along with the time you start your University degree, want to live away from your parents or move to the UK, and may continue for as long as your life. The thing is that charges for University halls are currently going through the roof and more people are now considering renting a flat/house with someone else as soon as they leave the school.
How hard is to find a decent property in decent area for a decent price? The answer is not simple as it all depends on the area you want to live in. For example in Newcastle Upon Tyne, there are many landlords offering properties, but not that many looking for them, making it relatively easy to find a “perfect” option as long as you start looking in advance. On the contrary, Edinburgh has a huge need for landlords and agencies so the fight for every single new property which comes on to the market begins there.
Wherever you are – the main points to consider
- Make a decision on how much can you afford to spend on a rent
- Take into account the utility bills
- Do some research on the area you would like to live in. This is very important if you want to feel safe while coming back to home overnight and even more importantly if you consider raising your children within certain area. Consider your neighbourhood.
- Find your best match, preferably through a private landlord.
Agency vs Private landlord?
My advice is simple – if you can, choose a private landlord. Agencies make life easier for landlords by making sure that you as a tenant pay them rent on time, agency performs your criminal and reference checks (which takes ages), they inspect the property (sometimes very regularly, therefore forcing you to clean all the house again and again OMG (joking, I like cleanliness :).
The most importantly they charge you insane non-refundable agency fees! Usually the agency will charge you around £200 in fees and put you through your personal checks pain before you even get your keys.
In addition, if the city does not have sufficient number of rentable flats on offer and there are 20 more people after the same type of the flat, you need to actually WIN “an agency lottery” before you could even plan on taking the property. Once I was invited to a flat viewing in Edinburgh and noticed there were 15(!) more people added to the recipients list in the e-mail I received from the agency. We were informed that the agency will make a decision on who will be the best candidate for that flat and will let me know within a week if I were successful. Wait, is this a job interview or can I just rent a flat?!
With landlord there are (usually) no fees except deposit that is worth around 1-2 months of rent value. Usually there are no credit checks or unexpected monthly checks of the property and you can usually move in as quick as the next day (the standard is around 2 weeks). The only risk you are taking is that you could get a bad and careless landlord which will restrict you from modifying anything in a room or will not react if you have a problem (e.g. broken fridge) while agency will make sure all your issues are resolved within reasonable period of time.
Best place to look for a flat?
My pick is Gumtree
Average cost of renting a flat in the UK?
Cost of renting in the United Kingdom varies depending on the city, but in North part you should expect to pay around £70 per week + taxes per bedroom, and in South that amount more than doubles when you approach inner London.