One of the first and most important things you need to figure out when you move to the U.K is renting your first apartment in the U.K. Like we shared in this article, it may be tempting to try to begin house hunting before you arrive. But it’s a great idea to wait until you get to the U.K because many house owners would like to meet tenants before rental agreements are signed. And for the renter, it helps to see if there are any actual issues with the apartment. There’s nothing worse than finding out that the apartment that you paid for after only seeing it online needs extensive repairs.

What’s a good budget for an apartment in the U.K?

Before advising on a budget, it’s important to know if you’re a solo renter or you have a family. A family of five cannot realistically hope to share a one-bedroom apartment. So if you have a family, you’re going to need to up your housing budget to find a bigger space. Your budget will also be largely dependent on the city you live in, because some cities have higher rental prices on the average.

While a lot of people know that London is a pretty pricey city, it’s not even among the top five most expensive cities to live in the U.K, according to this list. Winchester, Oxford, Bath, Truro and Chichester hold the top 5 spots, so if you’re moving to any of these cities, prepare to crack your wallet open!

If you have a family, you will have more considerations, such as the nearest nursery or school for your kids, although most areas have schools within a 2-mile radius. If you’re single, your primary consideration will be how far off you want to live from work or school. As most schools are in the middle of a town, the closer you live to school, the more expensive the property. The further out you live, the cheaper it is and the bigger the apartments are likely to be.

Let the house hunt begin!

Perhaps the best place to start your apartment search is the website, Rightmove. If you’re a student, use your school’s postcode as a starting point for your search, and search for houses within 3-5 miles of your school. Rightmove will also show you nearby schools for kids and nearest train station and allow you to even set a budget while you’re at it.

Inspect every apartment before you sign an agreement! For instance, you should check water pressure when you’re viewing houses; ensure the taps throughout the apartment run! Once you’ve done your due diligence and you’re satisfied with the rental property, it’s time to make your payment. If you’re Ghanaian or Nigerian, you may be used to paying rent annually, with a range of extra charges, but for an apartment in the U.K, rent is paid monthly. However, you’ll need to pay a deposit, which is a one-time payment that’s separate from your rent. Landlords charge between 4-6 weeks rent as a deposit and you will need to pay it in addition to your monthly rent in your first month.

One key thing a lot of people overlook is the need for a U.K based guarantor when you’re renting a house. Without a guarantor, landlords may ask you for up to six months rent upfront, so this is something you want to be prepared for. If you’re renting a student accommodation provided by an agent affiliated with your school, you may not need a guarantor.

What to expect when you’re getting your first apartment in the U.K

Pay attention to the tenancy contract

Paying attention to any legally binding document is always great advice, but it’s even doubly important when you’re renting an apartment. Scrutinising the tenancy agreement will save your hair from disputes or issues down the road. Your tenancy agreement should state the required deposit and the possible conditions for which it may not be refunded (i.e possible damage to the property).

While landlords are generally liable for repairs, it’s useful for the contract to explicitly specify who pays for what. The contract should also specify the sorts of things you can do to decorate the apartment. Many landlords will need you to inform them of any changes that affect the structure of the building.

You should also keep your eye out for the termination clause, as some landlords may need you to give them sufficient notice before you move houses. A six-month notice period for instance, may prove unhelpful if you suddenly need to move apartments.

If you need legal advice on confusing aspects of your tenancy agreement, you can get free and helpful advice from the website, Citizens Advice. When you’re satisfied with the contract terms and are ready to pay, you can send cash directly from your Lemonade Finance app to your landlord’s bank account – easy peasy! If you don’t already have the Lemonade app, download it on Google PlayStore and Appstore now.

Video inventory is super important

Remember how we talked about making a deposit? That deposit is often refunded when your tenancy agreement with the landlord ends, but only on the condition that you haven’t damaged anything in the apartment.

This is why the first thing you should do when you collect your keys is a full video of the house, taking inventory of the items in the apartment and their current condition. Doing this avoids possible disputes at the end of your stay in the apartment when your landlord does a closing inventory. No one likes a squabble over what items were reportedly damaged or a situation where their deposit is wholly or partially withheld as a result.

After your inventory video, take a picture of your metres: electricity, gas and water. You should also ask the landlord who supplies the house so you can let them know you have just moved in. This way, you can get the last metre reading. Make sure your name goes on the bill (except it’s a bills inclusive property).

Next, you want to sort out your internet connection. You can use a price comparison site like comparethemarket.com. It’ll tell you what speed you can get in your area, the cost per month and if there are any ongoing promotions.

Furnishing your apartment in the U.K

While most people opt to rent furnished accommodation, some others may choose unfurnished apartments. If it’s an unfurnished house, you have a couple of options: Facebook marketplace or Gumtree. With these two, you’ll have to consider the cost of hiring a van to deliver your items.

If you’re not skittish about used items, you can also consider furniture charity shops like British heart foundation and the upside to this is that they might cover the delivery of the items. But if you like new furniture, Facebook marketplace, eBay and Ikea may be more your speed. If you’re on a super slim budget, you can check out car boot markets for household things like pots and pans, plates, etc.

You should always ensure that whatever furniture you buy has a fire label. Without a fire label, it’s often difficult to resell furniture and charity shops typically will not accept them either. This will mean that you may have to pay to dispose of those furniture items without fire labels when you no longer need them.

Let us know in the comments if we missed anything about renting an apartment in the U.K!

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