If you want to find an Estate Agent, use one that is National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)NAEA, Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)ARLA, Institution of Commercial And Business Agents (ICBA)ICBA and/or National Association of Valuers And Auctioneers (NAVA)NAVA industry approved and National Federation of Property Professionals Regulation (NFOPP)NFOPP regulated.
The above have since been combined into Property MarkPropertyMark. Use their FIND AN EXPERT web page to find a trusted Estate Agent.
If you want to know your legal rights as a tenant, Letlink WebsiteLetlink has some very useful information.
Alternatively, you could seek advice from Which? - Estate AgentsWhich?.
Their accommodation Save The Student Websiteviewing guide that lists 'things to be aware of before signing any tenancy agreement' and their Save The Student Websiteweekly newsletter are always worth a read; as is their website.
PayPoint WebsitePayPoint is a payment system that allows you to pay for your utility bills, concil tax, tv licence and road tax among other things by visiting a post office, petrol station or newsagent that displays the PayPoint Sign.
PayPoint is a very convenient way of making payments, especially as many utility companies and other companies give their customers pre-payment top-up cards/keys to pay for their services.
If you are thinking of settling down in England (UK) and arrive with no work, not much money and no accommodation, you will find UK life very expensive; especially in London (UK). And even if you have a secure job offer or definite employment that warrants your visit to England (UK), you will probably still find life expensive; compared to other EU countries. In England it is the utility bills, high rent and lack of work that forces many people back to their homeland.
As an example of the just said: The average minimum rent for a 1 Bedroom Flat outside of Central London (UK) is currently £1,200 per month (without bills) and £1,500 per month (with bills). The average maximum rent without bills is £2,000 per month.
Outside of London, in cities such as Nottingham and Manchester, the average minimum rent without bills is £600 per month. Hence why many of the wiser "Foreigners" wanting to settle down in England now look for work and housing outside of London; purely because of the lower rents and house prices.
Although London has always been expensive to some degree, now it is just ridiculously expensive; to the point even renting a single room can cost between £90 and £120 per week and a double room between £160 and £200 per week, depending on property location and condition of room.
Times have changed - With a shortage of jobs, the minimum wage, new houses not being built and the banks not giving mortgages, these factors have led to higher rents and house prices. Realistically, you now need to be earning around £24,000 per year, minimum, if you are going to survive in London.
Although many of those on a wealthier income choose to rent a property via an estate agent (such as Foxtons WebsiteFoxtons, Hamptons WebsiteHamptons or Winkworth WebsiteWinkworth) in England, for their trust factor and reassurances, many on an average income rent from a private landlord via offline Newsagent Ads and Newspaper Classified Ads. Either way, many of those same people also search property comparison websites and pure property websites first; such as Rightmove WebsiteRightmove, Zoopla WebsiteZoopla, Your-Move WebsiteYour Move, Spare Room WebsiteSpare Room, Move Flat WebsiteMove Flat, Gumtree WebsiteGumtree, Monday To Friday WebsiteMonday To Friday and/or Booking Dot Com WebsiteBooking Dot Com.
The actual process of finding and renting a property is quite straight forward. You find a property, present your ID and References to an estate agent for example, sign the Tenancy Agreement Web PageTenancy Agreement, pay the estate agent fees (including your rent, deposit, any administration fees and any maintenance fees) and then get the move-in date and keys. After that you pay a monthly rent via cash or direct debit until your tenancy agreement expires (naturally, by the landlord or by you giving notice to end the tenancy agreement). Either way, you should be aware of the information below:
If you are going to rent a property in England (UK) from an estate agent, as opposed to directly from the independent owner/landlord of that property, you may be asked for one or more of the following references and requirements; especially if you are looking for a long-term tenancy agreement:
Long-Term tenancy agreements usually mean setting up a direct debit for monthly rent payments, which are normally payable on the day your tenancy begins. So if you sign the tenancy on 1st January, but actually move in on 23rd January, your first monthly direct debit rent payment will be taken from your bank account on 1st February to cover the whole of February. You would have paid for the whole of January, on 1st January, in cash or by cheque for example in the estate agents' office.
As a new long-term tenant you are normally directly responsible for setting up any needed utility accounts, in your name, with the utility companies (Gas, Electricity, Water and Landline Telephone), both when moving into and moving out of the property. Hence why it is very important that you take meter readings when you begin and end your tenancy; even if the estate agent has taken those same meter readings.
As a short-term tenant the utility bills, except telephone and broadband service bills, are normally included in the rent and therefore kept under the estate agents' name and management. Getting telephone and broadband services installed inside an estate agent run property, as a short-term tenant, usually means becoming a long-term tenant first.
Utility bills vary in price, depending on your particular household usage of course, but here is an example of what Tünde and her family of three pay per month in their one-bedroom flat. Rent: £1,250. Electricity & Gas (with EDF): £120. Water: £25. Council Tax: £97. TV License: £24.50. Internet And Landline: £30 (£50 with Mobile Phone contract). A friend of mine pays (as a single person) £40 for Gas, £30 for Electricity and £72 for Council Tax.
Bills will vary purely because of radiator type, heating usage and thermostat levels, condition of boiler, the amount of water used (bath and/or shower) and water temperature, etc.
A new tenancy agreement is normally set up to last either six months or one year, as a trial period, whereby after a year of building up a rapport with the estate agent you are then offered a long-term tenancy agreement, anywhere from two to seven years in length; which may need renewing each year as a matter of formality/procedure only (perhaps because the law and/or tenancy terms and conditions has since changed and/or the property is being sold). I say "normally" because a short-term tenancy agreement for example can also be set up to last a few weeks or months only.
Before signing any tenancy agreement, always read and ask about the Terms & Conditions - Ask for a list of everything you will be paying for, including: Rent, Deposit, Administration Fees, Holding Fees, Maintenance Fees and Parking/Garage Space.
When you give notice to the estate agent or private landlord (via recorded post or e-mail) to end your current tenancy agreement early, or to say you no longer wish to renew that tenancy agreement, you should contact your bank straight after the last direct debit rent payment has left your account in order to cancel any further direct debits. Furthermore, you should give both the bank and landlord (private or estate agent) plenty of notice.
If the estate agent or private landlord wants to end your tenancy agreement, or Evicting A TenantEvict You (under Sections 21 And 8 - Evicting A TenantSections 21 And 8), they should give you, depending on your type of tenancy agreement (and any disputes/problems), between two weeks and two months Notice To QuitNotice To Quit; in writing.
When ending a tenancy (long-term or short-term) the landlord (private or estate agent) might deduct from your deposit costs relating to professional cleaning and/or decorating services, they feel need doing, which you may have agreed to under the Terms & Conditions of your tenancy agreement. Hence why I say again - ALWAYS read and ask about the terms and conditions BEFORE SIGNING ANY TENANCY AGREEMENT.
Before you even think of a rent as being affordable, you first need to consider House Removal prices (if coming from another home with furniture for example), Transport costs to/from your workplace and more importantly the dreaded Deposit.
If your rent will be £1,250 per month for example, an estate might want you to pay one month's rent in advance (£1,250) and one month's deposit (£1,250) plus their holding fee (£500-£700). An holding fee might include an administration fee, itinerary (of the property) fee and a reference ('credit check') fee before signing the tenancy agreement. Some of these fees are nonsense, such as the itinerary fee; especially if the property is unfurnished and/or the itinerary was done last week when the last tenant left.
NOTE - By law, all landlords MUST put your deposit into one of three government authorised DPS Web PageDeposit Protection Schemes - DPS WebsiteDeposit Protection Service, My Deposits WebsiteMyDeposits or TDS WebsiteTenancy Deposit Schemes - if they offer you the very common DPS Web PageAssured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) tenancy agreement. They MUST also DPS Web Pageinform the tenant (you) that this has been done, or face the penalties later.
If you cannot afford the full rent, some estate agents might ask you to pay the difference between the minimum requirement (i.e. £1,000) and the actual rent (i.e. £1,250), for a whole year. For example: If you can only afford to pay £1,000 per month, an estate agent might ask you to pay the additional 12 months' difference (i.e. 12 x £250. So £3,000) in advance. So you pay £1,000 per month, instead of £1,250 per month, because you have already paid the difference (of £3,000) between what you can afford (£1,000) and what you should pay (£1,250).
Estate Agents normally pay £100 to an independent credit agency to check your credit score among other things. They basically want to be assured that you can afford to pay the rent, hence one reason for them asking your for a 3-month bank statement and work related references.
The estate agents own scoring system is point based: 0-528 (red/high risk/failed), 529-548 (amber/eligible/guarantor needed) and 549+ (green/accept/give the keys).
An estate agent is normally a member of National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)NAEA and/or Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)ARLA, their industry regulators, but there are no such membership schemes or regulators for a private landlord. This means: Although you will not pay estate agent fees/costs by going directly to a private landlord, you do have to be careful of "dodgy landlords" and "scammers". It is not unusual in London for example for a tenant to pretend to be a private landlord. In other words, a person who sub-lets (illegally rents out) a property without the real landlord's (i.e. real owner's or estate agent's) permission.
Furthermore, some landlords are not allowed to rent their property under certain mortgage Terms & Conditions; but they do so without telling the estate agent. Usually out of desperation or debt problems. A good estate agent though will always do a thorough check of the landlord before managing their property.