Do you want to be close to work (or as far away as possible!), close to good schools, close to family and friends, or do you just want to be as central to everything as possible?
Before you decide to move somewhere you should research it thoroughly. Don’t take your friends’ word that it’s a great place to live. ‘Great’ for them maybe very different than ‘great’ for you. Take a stroll around the area: Check out where the shops, restaurants, bars are. And for those of you who have little ones, the whereabouts of, schools, doctors and dentists is just as important as how close you are to the park.
Also, check out where the nearest station is so you can see how long your commute to work will take. I know lots of estate agents’ adverts say “just a short walk to the Station”, but I’d go on google maps if I were you, or even better, actually walk it.
Set a budget that you can afford to pay each month
Property in London is expensive. And whilst we all know that, we do sometimes let our hearts rule our heads don’t we? You also need to remember that you will be referenced prior to committing to a new home and referencing companies use an affordability calculator. A good rule of thumb for affordability is 30 times monthly rent. As in, if the rent is £2,500 per month you (or you plus your flatmate) will need to prove a gross annual income of £75,000 (30 x £2,500 = £75,000).
Don’t forget the cost of utility bills (gas, electricity, water) and council tax. For a single person living in a one bedroom apartment these bills will come to £150-£250 per month (depending on how hot you like your flat!). And don’t forget broadband or landline costs, or Sky!
Searching for a property to rent
Although you can start with property search at any time, most agents will not be able to help if you look too early. It’s a common mistake, don’t worry, it’s a natural reaction to start as soon as possible but if the properties you’re interested in are available immediately and you’re not ready to move for 2 months it just won’t work. I recommend starting your search 4 to 6 weeks before you need to move in.
Now you have decided what you're looking for, where and for how much, it's time to start searching for the right rental property for you.
These days most tenants use Rightmove, Zoopla or PrimeLocation – the “portals” as we estate agents call them – to start their property search, and its absolutely the easiest way. However, do be aware that not all agents advertise their properties on all the portals. At Proper Local we advertise on all three, but some agents might just be on Rightmove, and some just on Zoopla and PrimeLocation. I’d suggest you look on both Rightmove and Zoopla.
Like most (but not all) other agents, all our properties are also advertised on our own website – www.properlocal.co.uk – and we take great care and attention in ensuring that our properties are marketed accurately and with useful additional information, such as our Area Guides and Development Guides.
The absolute best way to stay abreast of rental properties is to actually SPEAK with your letting agent. By registering your details directly with a letting agent you will get to hear about new properties as soon as they come to the market, and sometimes even before.
Remember don’t always believe everything you read online. From personal experience, some agents out there are less than honest, so be careful! It always irritated me that seemingly every property is “stunning”. Now, I’ve seen a lot of properties, and most of them are, sure, very nice and I’d live there, but how many were actually “stunning”?!
Don’t be shy: tell your agent exactly what kind of property you're looking for. I know sometimes certain agents can come across as quite intimidating with their suits and slicked back hair, but don’t forget this is your move, not theirs, and its important that you tell them exactly what your requirements are.
Make sure you give your agent a tightly defined search area so you don’t waste your time going to areas that you wouldn’t consider living in.
Taking a day or two off work to go on viewings is definitely the least stressful way of finding a property, but its not always possible, particularly if there’s more than one of you. Most of us estate agents are quite flexible and happy to work on your timings…within reason guys no 4am viewings please…. 8am? No problem. 6.30pm? Sure. Why not consider stepping out on your lunchbreak.
Do you need a break clause?
Consider whether you need a break clause in your tenancy. Some landlords will prefer to have one because it gives them flexibility, whilst other landlords like the certainty of a straight 12 month contract without a break clause because it gives them financial certainty.
Finding the right place
Now, trust me, I’m not being salesy when I say this: If you find the right place, act on it, quickly!
The rental market in London moves quickly so if you don’t act on it you may lose the perfect rental to some other eager applicant.
Tenant Administration Fees
Here at Proper Local we are straightforward when it comes to tenant administration fees. We are among the cheapest in London and charge £50 per tenant (plus an additional £30 If you require a guarantor), plus the cost of the inventory check-in fee. Check-in costs vary according to the size of the property, and whether its furnished, and range from around £80 to £200.
The vast majority of other estate agents in E14 and Canary Wharf charge substantially more than Proper Local, so if I were you…. I’d rent a property from me!
Wishing you all the best in your property search, and I hope this helps a little.