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How to Rent an Apartment in London

Residential Lettings | 5 MIN READ

Every year, huge numbers of people move to London from across the world for work and study. With the UK capital a hugely desirable place to live, and the rental market incredibly fast-moving, looking to rent an apartment in London can be a little daunting. You may have rented in other cities before, but renting in London is a different and altogether more challenging experience.

For instance, one of your first questions may be ‘how much is it to rent an apartment in London?’ The average rent in the capital is significantly higher than in the rent of the UK, with an average rent standing at £1,249 per month, according to figures from Zoopla. In this guide, we’ll take you through the important questions to consider before renting in London, as well as how to rent an apartment in the capital.

Read on to let us help you find your dream apartment in this city of nine million.

Questions to consider before renting in London

Ready to start your apartment hunt? Not so fast. Before you begin browsing apartments, you’ll need concrete answers to questions surrounding your needs and preferences. Answering the following questions ensures you’ll only view apartments that are perfectly suited to you, rather than wasting time on accommodation that only meets 50% of your requirements.

  1. What is your budget for accommodation?
  2. What size property do you require? How many bedrooms should it include?
  3. What are the important factors when it comes to areas to live?
  4. Are you willing to share a flat or do you want your own place?
  5. Do you require a furnished apartment or is unfurnished also an option?
  6. Will you be bringing any furniture or other large items with you?
  7. Are you willing to rent a place from abroad or do you insist on viewing the property first?
  8. What features are you unwilling to negotiate on? For instance, having a balcony, or a communal garden or garden may be very important to you
  9. Which borough/s do you want to live in?
  10. Does the apartment need private parking
  11. Do you need to live somewhere with good public transport links?
  12. How long a commute are you willing to take?

How to rent an apartment in London

Once you’ve listed the answers to the above questions, it’s time to begin your London apartment hunt. At this stage in your journey, it’s important to consider the following points.

1. Ensure you are eligible to rent

Eligibility to rent in the UK is the first hurdle to renters coming from abroad. Landlords are required by law to ensure that tenants are eligible to rent in the UK, which will mean a check of identity documents and - where applicable - your immigration status. Anyone aged 18 and over who pays to use the property as their main home - whether as tenants, sub-tenants, or paying house guests - will need to have their eligibility checked by the landlord.

2. Have lots of viewings

If you’ve visited London before, you’ll be aware that the city boasts a staggering number of properties. You’ll have narrowed these properties down, using the questions above, but that’s still likely to leave plenty of apartments on the table. It is generally best to view as many properties as you have time for. This will give you the best picture of what options there are and how far your budget will reach.

3. How long do you want the tenancy for?

You can ask for a tenancy to be any time between 6 months and 3 years. However, this is just a request, and your tenancy length must be agreed with the landlord and clearly stated in the contract. Within the listings for many apartments, you’ll find the landlord’s preferred length of tenancy. While, in many cases, this is negotiable, the landlord is likely to favour tenants who are happy with the tenancy length they originally stated. A number of factors go into deciding tenancy length from the landlord’s perspective, such as their own living or selling plans, and their financial security.

4. Consider flatshares

If you’re someone who likes a high level of privacy, then flat-sharing might not be for you. But if you’re new to the city and keen to meet new people, then sharing a flat can be a great way to forge some new connections and find your social groove. Furthermore, renters in flatshares make significant savings on both rent and bills. This allows people with lower budgets to live in bigger, more luxurious apartments that they wouldn’t have been able to afford on their own.

5. Don't write off an address until you've seen it

You might be quick to dismiss a rental property on a busy or undesirable street, but don’t rule it out until you’ve actually seen it. Apartments can look and feel very different in images to how they do in real life. If an apartment ticks all your boxes, go for a viewing - even if it doesn’t look like your dream rental at first glance.

6. Check out the council tax

A common mistake made by renters is signing for an apartment on the dotted line, and later realising that they’re also committed to paying sky-high council tax rates. In order to properly calculate your budget, it’s vital you find out what council tax band your potential home falls under. Bear in mind that council tax rates vary between London boroughs too, so it’s worth getting clued up on how that specific local authority charges. For example, Dolphin Square in Pimlico boasts the lowest council tax in London, but venture into nearby Chelsea and you’ll find much higher rates.

7. Will you pay a holding deposit?

Most landlords in London will require you to pay a holding deposit to prove you’re seriously interested in living in their property, and that they don’t lose out should you change your mind at the last minute. If you want to secure a popular rental home in London, it will be worth putting a little extra money aside in order to cover this holding deposit. However, you should get it back once you sign the contract.

8. Will you need a rent guarantee?

There are two situations in which you might be asked for someone to guarantee your rent:

  • If you’re a student
  • If your salary comes under the landlord’s criteria
  • If you’re self-employed

When a landlord asks you to find someone to guarantee your rent, they are protecting themselves financially. This is commonly asked of students and often of self-employed people too. Furthermore, if the rent will eat up a relatively high percentage of your wage, you may be asked to provide a rent guarantee too. These guarantees usually come in the form of parents, relatives, or friends. In the case where you were - for whatever reason - unable to pay your rent, they would be legally obliged to step in and pay for you.

9. Ensure you fall into the landlord’s criteria

The landlord will likely lay out their ideal tenant criteria in the listing. It’s important to consider this for every property, as if you don’t fall into it, you could be wasting a viewing. For example, some landlords won’t allow pets or smokers to live in their properties, while others will require you to earn over a certain amount before they’ll consider you.

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Renting in London checklist

  • Calculate budget
  • What size property do you require?
  • Which London borough/s would you like to live in?
  • Are you looking for a flatshare?
  • Furnished or unfurnished?
  • Will you be bringing any large items?
  • Are you willing to rent a place from abroad or do you insist on viewing the property first?
  • What features must the property have?
  • Do you need private parking?
  • Do you need to live somewhere with good public transport links?
  • How long a commute are you willing to take?
  • Are you eligible to rent in the UK?
  • When is your window for viewings?
  • What is your desired tenancy length?
  • How much is council tax?
  • How much is the holding deposit?
  • Do you need a rent guarantee?
  • Do you fit the landlord’s tenant criteria?


As you can see, when it comes to how to rent an apartment in London UK, there are a wide variety of factors to consider. It might seem like a lot of work, but once you’re set up in your new home in one of the world’s most exciting and historic cities, we promise it will be worth it. If you’d like further information on renting in England, take a look at the government’s handy checklist. Alternatively, book a viewing at Dolphin Square to see our luxury studios, and one, two, and three-bed apartments.