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Renting a Flat in London as a Foreigner l Everything You Need to Know

Renting a flat as an expat? Well we are
going to give you everything you need to know in this video and we’re getting
started right now. Hi everyone, Ugo Arinzeh here with Onyx Property Consultants and Keller Williams I’m a London-based property agent I help my
clients buy, sell, rent, and manage property throughout London. I
particularly love working with expats and foreign clients, since I’m an expat
myself, having moved over about eight years ago. In this video we’re going to
cover all the key things you need to know when you’re renting a flat in
London, so make sure you stay to the end, because we’re going to give you some
particular tips that you need to watch out for. So the first thing to start when
you’re considering renting a flat or moving over to London is your budget. Now
the average price for a two-bedroom flat in London is about £1,750 and in today’s exchange rate that’s over $2,000
per month and it’s been as high as maybe $2500 or $2800 dollars a month
so it’s very significant. Many people have lots of visions of where to live in
London but the reality is, the closer you get to prime central London, where most
of the jobs and the shops are, you’re going to be spending even more, but as
you get into London you’re actually going to realize you probably want to be a
little bit further out in areas like zone 2 or 3 but the most important thing
is to make sure you consider your commuting and your transport make sure
to watch my recent video on the transport options of London because
you’re going to want to figure that out and factor that in to where you’re
living. As well other key criteria you want to think about beyond budget is
amenities – what type of a property do you want? I recently put out a video talking
about the different property types of London and they could include having a
flat with your own garden, you could want a house, you could want a terraced property,
you could want an older property if you want something that’s more charming. All of
those things are going to factor in but my big tip is to
make sure you try to have a clear sense of what you’re looking for but do be
realistic because in London I always say when I’m working with my buyers or
renters there’s definitely going to be trade-offs. I try to narrow down the list
to about three or four key criteria that you’re going to have to have, so for
example, I was recently working with a client who’s got pets – that’s going to be
really restrictive in terms of our options in London,
so if you’ve got that as part of your must-have criteria you’re definitely
going to have to be more flexible on different elements of the property
search. So once you’ve considered your budget and your area and the criteria
that’s going to drive you, now you can start searching. Most people start their
searches online and they’ll use key portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla
you’ll have to put in your criteria and your budget and other restrictions you
might have, and see what comes up. Once you see properties that might suit your
criteria you’re going to contact the local agent and arrange for viewings, my
tip as an agent myself, is to make sure that when you’re dealing with that agent, that they have a clear sense of your criteria because a lot of agents will actually
book in your viewing for the property calls about but then also show you other
properties, and on one hand that’s good but a lot of times that can be very time
wasteful for you because they’re not really listening to what you need and
their job is to get rid of the stock that they have so they’re not really
working on your behalf. It’s really important to be clear when you book
your viewing what properties you’re actually going to be seeing and allocate
enough time make sure that they’re not taking you to stuff just to check-in that they’ve done a viewing. Once you’ve done a viewing and maybe you
found the right property, the thing that is unique to London is you can make an
offer. In the States we’re not really used to making offers we’ll pretty much
accept that the asking price is the asking price and you go with it,
but here in London you are able to make an offer and put in
any key criteria that you’re going to have to have. A lot of properties have
furnishings, so you want to make sure to say if there’s particular pieces that you
want or don’t want, you want to ask for that upfront.
I encourage, and when we work for our renters, to put an offer in writing
clearly stating what our issues are, if there’s any maintenance or repair issues
you’ve identified you want to make sure that you put that in writing as well and
if you can get the landlord to get it into the lease you want to make sure
that you do that once your offer has been accepted. Most agents will ask for a
holding deposit, there’s been a load of changes since the 1st of June that you
want to make sure that you’re aware of and again I’ll have a link in the chat
box below about the recent changes and how they’ll impact you as a tenant and
one of the big changes is, while you have to put a holding deposit, it is capped at
one week’s rent so agents can no longer take two and three weeks rent which they
had been able to do in the past. The key role of the holding deposit is to secure
that property for you, subject to tenant referencing, so you now know if you
passed tenants referencing that that property is likely yours, it’s not
guaranteed until you’ve signed a tenancy agreement and you’ve paid all your money,
but it means that it’s going to give you the time to get through tenant
referencing, so once you start tenant referencing, you definitely want to make
sure you respond as quickly as possible. Having said that, be prepared to probably
not pass tenant referencing as an expat or foreigner moving to London.
Why? Because one of the key criteria they’re going to want to see is that you
have a UK bank account. Now, you’d love to go get a UK bank account but one of the
restrictions or one of the things you’re going to need to get a UK bank account
is a permanent address, so it’s a bit circular as you can see that you need an
address, don’t have an address, need a bank account to get it address, don’t
have…anyway it’s all messed up so the point is if you’re not able to pass
because you don’t have a UK bank account. Be prepared that most
landlords or lettings agents will require you to pay a certain number of
months up front, that’s typically anywhere from six months to maybe you
can get away with three but be prepared that you’re going to likely have to pay
up to six months rent in advance, subject to you getting a bank account. Again, when
I’ve let out properties we’ve had that restriction and the tenant has said “look
if I get my bank account in months two and three of living here when the next
six months is due can we return to a month by month payment?” and most
landlords will be okay with that, if that was the one issue that was an issue at
the time of tenant referencing. So once you’ve passed tenant referencing and now
you’re signing your lease, you need to make sure that you’ve reviewed that
lease because it’s between you and the landlord. The other key feature that we
find in London in the UK that I wasn’t used to seeing in America is what’s
called a “Break Clause” that gives typically, again, it’s a negotiated
concept, but if you ask for a Break Clause it’s going to be likely that
the landlord also has a break clause. So say you have a 12 month lease that has
a six month Break Clause with a two month notice it means that starting from
month 4, either party, if that’s what’s been agreed, can give a two month notice,
say that at the end of the two months they are terminating the lease and the
landlord can take the possession back with no other costs, no legal
requirements, or anything like that. So again if that’s something you want to
consider, let’s say you’ve been repositioned in London on a 12 month
assignment that has the possibility of you moving somewhere else halfway
through that assignment, you might want that Break Clause but if you’re given
that break cause it means the landlord can have one as well. The only reason why
that might be an issue is say you haven’t been a performing tenant the
landlord can then look to just merely give you notice and you have to be out,
so once again, once you finish that tenant referencing, signed the contract, and paid your money, you’re going to be prepared to have an inventory
check-in. I’ve had a rare situation recently where we didn’t have an
inventory, I don’t know why a landlord wouldn’t do that because they’re leaving
themselves exposed, but be prepared that there’s going to be an inventory check-in report and check out report. This is a documented report, it should
be done by a third party which is going to list out all the conditions of the
property as it was presented to you they’re going to look at the walls,
they’re going to look at cracks, they’re going to look at any stains, are going to
look at, if it’s a furnished property, the condition of the furnishings, such that
that will be compared at the end of your tenancy to the condition you’ve returned
it in and if there are any damages that go beyond normal wear and tear, the
landlord can seek compensation. That reminds me you’re typically going to
have to pay a security deposit which is now capped at five weeks rent for
tenancy values under £50,000 per annum and capped at six weeks rent for tenancy
values over £50,000 per annum so you want to make sure you’re clear on how much
security deposit you’re going to have to put in place. With that security deposit
that should be held in a government sponsored or government approved tenant
deposit scheme so the landlord shouldn’t be holding it personally in their
personal account, that is not allowed, it should be held off-site or in a third
party and which has a process to review any claims, if at the end of the tenancy
the landlord is now seeking renumurations for damages that they’ve claimed
you as the tenant has made and there’s a formal process to do that. So now that
you’ve finished the inventory check in and you’ve moved into the flat and
you’ve got all the keys and you’re happy and ready to go, remember you’re going to
have to put utilities in your name and again one thing you need to really be
prepared for & this is my BONUS TIP – is to be prepared for additional costs of
renting a property, which includes not just utilities but
also you’re going to have to pay TV license as well as council tax, again that’s a
concept that most foreigners might not be used to, but council tax is really for
the services associated with living in that community such as trash collection and
those types of things, so again that’s an expense that a landlord
can pass onto tenants so you need to be prepared to factor that into
your budget. So with that, I’ve given you all the key steps and things you need to
consider when you’re renting a property in London to make sure it goes as
smoothly as possible for you. Tell me if you’ve like this video, if this is your
first time on my channel please make sure to subscribe and hit the
notification bell because I put out weekly videos talking about living in
London and all the things that make this city so incredible. So that’s Ugo Arinzeh with Onyx Property Consultants and Keller Williams. Bye for now

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