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Expat Exchange - How to Rent a Home in England
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River Thames, London


How to Rent a Home in England

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Renting a home in England for the first time can be daunting. You probably have so many questions: Do I need a lawyer? Do rentals come with appliances? How do I find good rentals? How do I choose the right neighborhood? The list goes on and on. Here are answers to some of the top questions plus insight from our members living in England.

Navigating the process of renting a home in England for the first time can feel overwhelming. Numerous questions might arise: Should I consult a lawyer? Are appliances typically included in rentals? How can I discover quality rental properties? Which neighborhoods will best suit my needs? These are just the tip of the iceberg. Dive in for answers to these pressing questions and gain insights from our members who've made England their home.

"Relocating to a new country can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding a place to live. If you're an expat planning to move to England, understanding the rental market is crucial. This guide will provide you with all the necessary information about renting an apartment in England, from finding a rental property to understanding the legalities involved.

How Do You Find a Rental Property in England?

There are several ways to find rental properties in England. Online property portals like Rightmove, Zoopla, and OnTheMarket are popular and user-friendly. Local newspapers and estate agents are also good sources. It's advisable to start your search early and be proactive, as the rental market in England can be competitive.

Does England Have an MLS Type System?

England does not have a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) like in the United States. However, online portals like Rightmove and Zoopla aggregate listings from various estate agents, similar to an MLS.

Do Brokers Have Licenses and How Do I Know if They Are Licensed?

While there is no legal requirement for estate agents in England to hold a license, many are members of professional bodies like the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These memberships require adherence to certain standards and codes of practice, providing a level of assurance to renters.

Should I Buy or Rent?

This decision depends on your personal circumstances, financial situation, and long-term plans. Renting offers flexibility, which is beneficial if you're unsure about your long-term plans. Buying is a significant financial commitment but can be a good investment if you plan to stay in England for a long time.

Is It Difficult to Find Rentals in England?

The difficulty in finding rentals in England varies depending on the location and your specific requirements. In major cities like London, the rental market can be highly competitive, and desirable properties are often snapped up quickly. However, with a proactive approach and flexibility, you should be able to find a suitable rental.

What Documents Are Required When Renting an Apartment?

When renting an apartment in England, you'll typically need to provide proof of identity (passport or driving license), proof of employment (a contract or payslips), and references from previous landlords. You may also need to provide a UK bank statement. If you're from outside the EU, you'll need to provide evidence of your right to reside in the UK.

Do I Need a Lawyer When Renting an Apartment in England?

While it's not a legal requirement to have a lawyer when renting an apartment in England, it can be beneficial, especially if you're unfamiliar with UK rental laws. A lawyer can review your tenancy agreement to ensure it's fair and legal. The cost can vary, but you should budget around £200-£500.

How Long Is the Typical Lease For?

The typical lease in England is for 12 months, although shorter or longer leases can be negotiated. After the fixed term, if a new lease isn't signed, the tenancy becomes a rolling contract, which can be terminated with one month's notice from the tenant or two months' notice from the landlord.

Do I Have to Pay a Deposit?

Yes, you will typically need to pay a deposit when renting an apartment in England. This is usually equivalent to five weeks' rent for properties where the annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks' rent where the annual rent is £50,000 or more.

What Other Upfront Costs Are There When Renting?

Other upfront costs can include the first month's rent, a holding deposit (capped at one week's rent), and potentially agency fees. Since the Tenant Fees Act 2019, most fees charged by landlords and agents (such as reference checks and inventory fees) are now prohibited.

Are Utilities Included?

Whether utilities are included in the rent depends on the specific rental agreement. In some cases, utilities may be included, but it's more common for tenants to set up and pay for utilities themselves. Utility costs can vary, but you should budget around £100-£200 per month for gas, electricity, and water.

Are Furnished or Unfurnished Rentals More Popular?

Both furnished and unfurnished rentals are common in England. Furnished rentals typically include basic furniture, white goods (fridge, freezer, washing machine), and sometimes kitchenware. Unfurnished rentals usually only include white goods. The choice between furnished and unfurnished depends on your personal circumstances and preferences," said one expat living in UK.

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Expats Talk about How they Found their Home

"Lots of checking stuff out on the internet, followed by a three day recon trip to check out neighborhoods, then a real estate agent on arrival," commented an expat living in London.

"Relocation Company - There are hundreds of Estate Agents and no multiple listing service. The Relocation Agency called around to all the Agents in my desired areas and set up all the appointments to see flats. This is a huge time saver! There are many good websites as well: www.primelocation.com and www.findaproperty.com are two of the better ones," said an expat in London.

"There was so little available when we moved here, we took the first furnished house in a decent neighborhood that we saw. In hindsight, we shouldn't have worried about the house being furnished, local charity shops have TONS of cheap, antique furniture that is wonderful - it would have been much less expensive for us," remarked one expat who made the move to Ringwood.

"Looked at map, found most convenient place for public transportation. Checked the neighborhood in a short weekend vacation before. Rented house with help of internet and let someone from the company check it out," explained one expat living in London.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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River Thames, London

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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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