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Unlocking the Doors of the Capital. A Rental Guide for Overseas Students New to London.

Unlocking the Doors of the Capital. A Rental Guide for Overseas Students New to London.

London attracts students from around the globe seeking world-class education. Renting in the capital can be both exciting and daunting, but fear not! In this guide, we walk you through essential steps and tips to make your search for student accommodation a breeze.  


1. Renting - absolute basics-accommodation types

Purpose-built student accommodations (PBSAs) will be familiar to students from all over the world. However, London has architecture from many different periods which increases the available choices.


i) Flats:  

Flats are a popular choice for students seeking an independent living experience. Unlike town houses which in London are generally freehold, flats are usually sold on leases. This means you would be renting as a subtenant. Check your lease protects you against charges that could otherwise be passed on by your landlord, (who herself is a tenant).

ii) Period Terraced Houses:  

London is home to numerous victorian and georgian era terraced houses, each with their own character, adding choice to the letting experience. Georgian houses are ‘newer' than those built by the victorians, and are easily identified by their iconic, elegant floor to ceiling windows. Remember that victorian houses can be over a hundred years old - don’t expect perfectly fitting windows or level floors. The walls can also be less than sound proof. This is part of their charm.  Period houses are for groups of students, usually up to six sharers. Living in a group can be a bonding experience that creates lasting memories.  

iii) End of Terrace:  

End of terrace houses share similarities with period terraced houses, but have more privacy and often larger gardens.  


2. Set your budget:  

When budgeting for rent, allow for additional costs like utility bills and internet. Consider shared accommodations to split expenses with flat mates. Setting a realistic budget helps exclude unsuitable properties early, and will prevent financial strain. Council tax is usually exempted for students. There is a form available online to claim this exemption. 


i) Location, location, location:  

 Proximity to your university, accessibility to public transport, and nearby amenities like supermarkets, cafes, and parks are essential factors to consider here.  

ii) Start early and stay informed:  

London's rental market moves swiftly, especially approaching the start of the academic year. Start your search early to have a better chance of securing your ideal place. Your search should start at least three months before the start of your academic year. Utilise online platforms and social media groups for available accommodations.  

iii) Flat mates and compatibility:  

If you're considering shared accommodation, meet your potential flat mates as early as possible. Compatibility can greatly affect your living experience. Communication and mutual respect are key to maintaining a harmonious living environment.   

iv) Don't rush:   

The rental market in London can be competitive, but don't feel pressured to rush into a decision. Take your time, explore the various options, and the right place will come along.  


3. The Viewing 

 Stay vigilant when you go for a viewing and you can learn a lot.


i)  Safety and security:

Pay attention to safety features like secure entrances, well-lit common areas, and quality external locks. Research the neighborhood's safety record and trust your instincts.

ii) Property management standards:  

Meet the manager or landlord responsible for the property.  A good manager is responsive, approachable, and dedicated to maintaining the property in good condition. Engage with the manager during your viewing to get a sense of their communication style. Are they going to be willing to assist? 

iii) Fire safety

As an international student, fire safety should be a crucial aspect to consider. During viewings, check the location of smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and escape routes. Smoke detectors should be positioned away from walls. Ask about the building's fire safety protocols and ensure that they meet local regulations. Safety should always be a top priority, and any concerns about fire safety should be explored, with answers from the landlord provided in writing. 

iv) Prepare required documents:  

Once you've found the perfect place, prepare all necessary documents such as identification, proof of enrollment, references, and financial statements. This will speed up the application process and demonstrate your reliability as a tenant.   

v) Read the contract carefully:  

Before signing any tenancy agreement, read it thoroughly and seek legal advice if necessary. Pay attention to the rental duration, deposit details, and any additional clauses. Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a tenant will avoid potential issues in the future. 


Remember, finding the perfect student accommodation in London may take some time, but with patience and persistence, you'll soon discover a place to create cherished memories during your academic journey.  

Happy house-hunting!

-Hannah G-

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