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With the average price of private rental properties in London more than double the rest of the UK, your best bet for securing somewhere to live in the capital is to flat-share.
If you have ever been a student living away from home, you will probably be familiar with the concept of flat sharing. If not, it’s basically where two or more people live in a property together, with a private bedroom and shared communal areas. Renting in this way means you get to split the rent, bills, and other costs between tenants, meaning you can actually afford to live in London.
There are flat-shares found right across the capital; however, not all areas may be to your taste or within your price range. The best thing to do when looking for a place to live is to focus on areas close to where you work or study, or areas where commuting costs are reasonable. Commuting around London is not going to be cheap and sometimes paying higher rents within Zones 1 and 2 can work our more cost friendly that living in Zones 5 or 6 and travelling to work or college by public transport. If you want to find out about a particular neighbourhood, the Office for National Statistics website is a good resource.
Generally, flat-share rental accommodation is not advertised on typical property websites. However, there are dedicated sites offering plenty of options. Due to the high rate of scams and fraudulent postings, you should probably avoid Gumtree and instead use sites such as Spare Room and Move Flat, both of which are highly reputable.
Upon securing a new place to live and being ready to move in, you will need to sign an inventory provided by the landlord, which details the contents and condition of the property. The idea of the inventory is to monitor the condition of the property and any items therein. An inventory will also be carried out just before you leave a property and will make clear which damages (if any) need to be paid for out of a deposit. If a landlord does not provide an inventory, you should consider having one carried out by an inventory clerk.
Along with the inventory, a landlord will also ask you to sign a tenancy agreement. The agreement will outline the terms of the tenancy including rent payments and contract expiry, and information concerning the dwelling and its contents.
Rent is typically split equally between flatmates and paid per calendar month. Rent payments are made in accordance with the tenancy agreement and, unless previously agreed, cannot be increased without consent.
At the start of your rent, you will be required to pay a deposit. To ensure your money is protected and a landlord does not rip you off, your deposit is stored in a government controlled tenancy deposit scheme. If there are damages to pay for at the end of a tenancy, a landlord will be able to retain a percentage of the deposit without your consent. If you feel that this is not justified, you can appeal through tenancy deposit scheme litigators.
Like rent, bills will be split between flatmates. How this is done will be arranged between yourself and your new house buddies. Generally, all flatmates pay their share into an account and bills are paid directly to the landlord by Direct Debit.
Photo source flickr: Garry Knight, Images Money
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