It is natural to fall in love with the first London property you see. There is always something exciting happening here, and living in London provides a fantastic opportunity to have fun, grow further in your career and simply live and enjoy the finer things in the biggest city in the UK.

With plenty of amazing places, shops and restaurants to experience, it comes as no surprise that over 8 million people live in the glorious streets of London, many of them coming from all across the globe to witness the delights for themselves.

But, while you indulge yourselves in the wondrous idea of living in London permanently, just with anywhere else in the world, it is incredibly important to know what to look out for and what questions to ask before looking for flats to rent in Central London and the surrounding area.

The essential questions to ask yourself first

Is London the right location for you?

You could come across the most stunning apartment you have ever laid your eyes upon, but if it now adds an hour to your work commute and increases the cost of travel, it might not be the right place for you. However, with London’s versatile travelling facilities, such as the London Underground, for instance, there is an opportunity for quick, affordable travel solutions for anyone looking to live and commute in and around London.

Is the property within your budget?

Everyone has a clear budget in mind when looking to rent a property, but if you are struggling to find something it is easy to start the habit of increasing your budget, little by little each time. Staying strong and sticking to what you know you can afford will help you live more comfortably in the long run, and that means you also will have additional funds for all of the fantastic social opportunities London has to offer!

Can I make changes to the property?

Many properties, usually ones that have been recently refurbished, do not allow personal adjustments, even down to things such as hanging photographs on the walls. Sometimes, slightly older properties will be more flexible in allowing paint changes or even allowing pets. For many, the ability to make their home more personal to them is more important. But, if you’re not too fussed about the interiors, this isn’t a question you need to concern yourself with. It all depends on the particular person and property involved.

Is the timing right?

It is easy to fall victim to the ever-changing rental market, but never feel pressured into accepting a tenancy start date that’s earlier than necessary. Often, a slight crossover between your previous tenancy allows you to move in gradually and gives you time to freshen up the old property.

If an agent wishes to let the property from a certain date, don’t add unnecessary costs to your new rented property. It is important to ask what the nearest available date is, how much flexibility there is regarding the available date, and do not find yourself persuaded into accepting a date that doesn’t work best for you.

Questions to ask your new landlord

Besides rent, what additional bills and costs are required?

Additional bills may be included that you are unaware of when you initially come across the property. It’s important to ask whether these additional costs are included in the rent, or if you are required to pay extra. This will give you a complete picture of the costs and it won’t come as a shock to you when you first establish your budget.

How much is the deposit?

Deposits on average usually range from 4-6 weeks worth of rent. In most circumstances, tenants are expected to pay the deposit in addition to the first month’s rent upfront, along with additional admin fees. It’s important to know whether the deposit is stored in an accredited tenancy deposit scheme, which yes should always be the correct answer.

Admin fees should be established first hand, and what each fee is for. With the government wanting to introduce legislation to ban moving-in fees to tenants, while not yet in place, it is essential to be up to date on what is acceptable and what is not.

What’s the condition of the property?

A property will look very different in the summer months compared to winter, where it may be damp or fall victim to mould. Likewise, when first viewing in the chillier seasons, a well-insulated property may not have much ventilation in the warmer months. You should ask your agent or landlord for insight on the condition of the property all year round. Assess rental properties as if you were going to be a buyer, noticing issues is key and you can ask for these to be fixed before your tenancy starts.

How efficient is the landlord when it comes to repairs and maintenance?

An alert and professional landlord will make a difference in your renting experience. Small matters like appliance failures will make or break your relationship with your landlord. You will always find great insight from the existing tenants, as they are more likely to provide you with an honest observation judging by their personal experience.

Furnished or unfurnished?

If you are looking to move somewhere and take your furniture, you must check whether the property you desire comes furnished or unfurnished. Likewise, if you didn’t own any furniture, it would be useful to know this information before signing on the dotted line. Some landlords may be happy to place their current furniture into storage or provide you with the basics to get you started.

How long is the tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement falls in line with your personal preferences. If it is a short lease with the opportunity to renew, both you and the landlord will get an idea of whether you are a good fit for the property, which also gives you the flexibility to leave if you are not happy with the conditions. However, if you are looking for somewhere long term to save the concern of looking to relocate too soon, it is important to make this clear to know what options are available.

Check the paperwork

The paperwork will be the documents that keep you safe from anything that could potentially go wrong. Tenancy agreements need to work for both parties, and they should outline the shared responsibilities and limitations for both you and the agent or landlord. Double-check that you are happy with the paperwork before agreeing to rent the property.

What happens next?

So, you’ve found your dream property in London, you are already imagining your new Sunday routine and visiting your local coffee shop for your morning treat – what happens next? With the London rental market at such demand, you can most likely expect at least ten other individuals to imagine that ideal Sunday in their new home. Properties will become available at the drop of a hat and, equally, come off the market just as quick.

It’s no reason to rush your search for the most suitable property, but it’s something to keep in mind when taking the next steps to secure your new home. Be direct in your next step, and let the landlord know you are interested in the property.

The Sloane Stanely estate is an experience to remember.

Always remember to go into the property search with an open mind. Establishing the questions you want to ask not only the landlord, but yourself is key to finding a home you are happy and comfortable in. Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed or confused about the process, the right estate or agency will provide all the information you need to move forward with confidence.

Established in 1717, the Sloane Stanley Estate is one of the oldest and most prestigious landowning estates in Chelsea London. Owning and managing hundreds of residential and commercial properties in Chelsea, the estate aims to be a proactive landlord who is fair and reasonable in all their dealings with residents, agents, contractors and members of the public.