Renting legally and safely in London

Property expert Kate Faulkner Credit: .

Renting in some areas of London is already the only way people can afford to live. In England, for the first time since before WW2, it’s officially overtaken from social housing as the second most popular way to live.

And it’s not a surprise that renting is so popular, especially in London. Before the millennium, most privately rented properties weren’t in the nicer areas and often weren’t in great condition either.

I remember renting in Haringey and Finsbury Park as a student and although it was OK, I quickly worked out buying was cheaper and I could have a home in the condition I wanted.

However, times have changed. House prices, especially in London have risen much faster than rents, so now it’s often cheaper to rent in the short term than it is to buy.

And there are over 100 rules and regulations, according to the Resident Landlords Association, for a property to be let legally.

However, finding the right property at the rent you can afford, which is legally let isn’t easy - so here are my three top tips to help you:-

1. Check out landlords and letting agents first

Avoid rogues by taking time to check them out first. Not all agents or landlords are the same!

Look for agents who are members of NALS, ARLA, RICs as they have to have insurance to protect your rent if they lose it.

If they let you down, you can complain and access a free, independent third party complaint service. If you rent directly from a landlord, check they are current members of local authority accreditation schemes such as the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme or the RLA and NLA.

Read my free checklist on renting a property.

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2. Know the costs of renting to move in day

When agents and landlords advertise a property, by law, they have to link to any tenant fees.

This may include application, referencing, deposit, contribution to tenancy agreement, inventory and renewal fees.

Costs can add up to thousands, so secure in writing, before you find a property what fees landlords/letting agents will charge you from application to the day you move in.

Visit my property calculation page for help working out your tenant fees.

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3. Make the proper checks

When you view a property to rent, of course check on the space and location, but also check the property is being legally let:-

  • Ask to see the Energy performance Certificate. It will tell you how much your utility bills will be, but the agent or landlord, legally, must have this prepared at time of viewing

  • Check which one of the three tenancy deposit schemes your deposit will be protected in

  • Ask to see a gas safety certificate if there is a boiler and ideally an electrical safety certificate

. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

If your landlord or agent doesn’t have or doesn’t send you paperwork for the above, then it’s better to walk away.

If you are renting a room with other people you aren’t related to, the checks are a little different:-

  • Check if the property needs an HMO licence and if this has been authorised by your local authority

  • Good landlords will protect your deposit in one of the three tenancy deposit schemes, ask which one

  • Check annual gas, electric and fire safety checks are displayed somewhere publicly

For more help making sure you rent a property which is legally let and you only pay a fair price for as a tenant, read my renting a property checklists.

And if you are landlord or thinking of buy to let, we have lots of free checklists for you too!