How to find cheap flats in London for rent?

Looking for the perfect flat to rent in London and don't know where to start? It may be difficult to find a cheap flat to rent in London, but it's not impossible!

There are many factors to consider when looking for an appartment to rent in London: which boroughs you would like to live in (there are 32 to choose from, to be exact), whether you would like to share a flat or live in a residence in London, who you would share it with, transport, contracts, other documents you may need... Find out everything you need to know before you move to London and don't leave any loose ends untied!

Keep this information handy when you start looking for a place to live in London, but don't forget one important thing to be aware of: renting a flat in London is expensive. In fact, London and Paris are always at the top of the ranking of the most expensive cities to rent a flat in Europe.

But wait! Luckily, we have prepared for you a guide to help you find a cheap flat to rent in London. Are you ready to find your dream accommodation in London?


1. Calculate your budget for living in London

Set a budget. This is the first thing you should be doing. Have you seen a flat that looks absurdly cheap to you? Well, it probably isn’t as it seems. Some like to advertise their flat with a weekly rent price, instead of monthly. This must be taken with caution, as you do not pay 4 weeks worth of rent every month. You need to multiply the weekly rent by 52 and then divide by 12 to get your monthly rent (spoiler alert: it’s more expensive than only paying for 4 weeks every month). Don’t let this fool you.

What else should you include in your budget? Here’s something: don’t forget about extra bills! Unless your new flat is all inclusive (gas, electricity, sometimes wifi, too) then you will need to take into account these expenses on top of your monthly rent. Furthemore, boroughs like Sutton and Croydon are quite far outside of Central London, this means you will pay more (a lot more) for transport each month (it can even cost up to £350 per month, depending on your location and where you want to travel to), and these costs can really add up. Make sure you weigh your options and decide if it’s worth living further out or closer to Central London in terms of your travel costs.

Obviously, it’s a no-brainer to include clothes, food, going out, activities and museums in your budget, too. Start off your London experience by visiting one of my very own favourite places: Camden Town and Market! Here you can spend days and days exploring all the alleyways and browsing vintage shops - make sure you leave yourself some money to really enjoy London to the max!

And another something to include in your budget: deposits. These always catch people out. You will be asked to pay 6-8 weeks deposit before you move into your new flat. You will get this back when you move out, but it will make a sizeable dent to start off with as a deposit for even one of the cheapest places on the market in London can still be up to £2, 400.


2. Avoid real estate agencies

You may be considering going to a private landlord as you can usually avoid unwanted agency fees by doing it this way. However, renting a flat in London via a private landlord is not advisable at all. On the bright side, all those letting agent/landlord fees you're worried about won't be a problem. Luckily for you (but not for those of us who have been renting flats for what seems like forever), one-off letting agent or landlord fees have now been cut by the British government (this is being implemented June 1st, 2019). This means that while some of us paid an average of £400 to sign up with a letting agency, you newbies cannot be charged for things like accompanied viewings, receiving an inventory, signing a contract, or renewing a tenancy. Although this is amazing news for the up-and-coming renter generation, keep in mind that there will still be some fees to pay, such as late rent fees, or for the loss of your key. Stay sensible and on-time and you will avoid any charges whatsoever.


3. Which flat for rent are you looking for? Filter your search

One bedroom or two? Studio or house share? Make sure these are the kinds of things you are thinking about so that you can narrow down your search and really hone in on possible flat-matches. If you are already in the capital, discover what to see in London and take the opportunity to take a look at the different areas and neighbourhoods of London where you'd like to live. Who knows? You may find a hidden gem on one of the backstreets behind the London Eye, or in a trendy location like Notting Hill. If you want an easily-accessible flat in London, you can think about renting in Zone 2, which includes Lewisham.

You know, search on the Internet or walk the streets and ask other students at Erasmusu who, like you, have doubts about whether to share a flat or not. Take advantage and find your future flatmates on Erasmusu!


4. Shared flat in London with flatmates or no shared flat? That is the question...

Slotting into a flat that already has people living there increases the odds of finding a furnished flat in London, previously set-up (wifi, TV license) and bills included. This means you can move in and think about nothing else except making lifelong friends with your new, friendly flatmates. If you’re worried, or you find it hard to consider living with strangers, there are ways to combat this. You can go speed-dating! Or, better phrased, speed-flatmating! There are hundreds of events held throughout London where you can meet potential flatmates and search for a house together, or you can meet the people who already live in flats and are scouting for the perfect companion to live with. You may meet your best friend at one of these events and it will definitely help you feel more comfortable with the idea of living with new people.

If this isn’t your style, no problem. However, renting a whole property by yourself is more expensive and you will have to prove that you can manage these expenses by providing at least 3 months worth of payslips. You will also most likely have to arrange and organise your gas, electricity and internet providers yourself, as well as having to pay council tax by yourself, too. You can always opt to rent a studio in London, the ideal option if you are looking for autonomy and independence, and a small place to live.

5. Is your flat well connected?

This is something else to keep in mind as it can contribute to your monthly transport costs. Do you want to be close to your university and save money on the daily commute? Or do you want to live near members of your family or friends so that you can pop round any time you want. As previously mentioned in the budget section, depending on the zone you live in and the zone you work/study in, a monthly travel card can cost you up to £350. I know, it’s expensive - this is why it’s so important to be fully prepared for life in London. To help you do this, here is an amazing travel guide to London where you can learn about the bus, rail, taxi and underground network spanning across the entirety of London.


6. Find your rental flat in London online

Are you wondering how to rent a flat in London from abroad? Luckily, platforms like Erasmusu or Spotahome will show you the flat so you can save the effort of having to go and see it. Rent a flat with the certainty that it exists and avoid falling for scams and false promises!

7. Furnished or unfurnished flat?

Furnished apartments are better if you are moving from abroad, or if you are looking at renting for the first time and don’t want to have to bother (or don’t have enough money) with decorating. Obviously, if you are moving into a flat that already has tenants living there, it will most definitely already be furnished and you will have all the necessities in your bedroom: bed, shelves, wardrobe, etc. This doesn’t mean you can’t add your own personal homely touch to your new flat, though.

8. Are you going to live in London for a long period of time?

Renting a flat in London long term is better as requesting a contract of 2 years is a good way to sway a landlord’s decision about renting their flat to you. They want to guarantee an income for them and keep their flat full for the maximum time possible. They will need to confirm your identity, immigration status, credit history and possibly employment status. Plus, 2 years gives you plenty of time to explore the whole of London, start by visiting these 23 most interesting places in London!

8. How to Rent a Flat in London Without References

This one's easy! If you have never had a private landlord before, or don't have any references good enough to give in your application to rent in London, don't worry! We will help you. Some landlords are satisfied with a personal reference instead, and some will just ask for a garantor. Once they have the garantor, they have everything they need to be able to rent you the property because they have a safety net. Don't worry, the landlords at Erasmusu are used to dealing with students, so they tend to look the other way when it comes to references.


10. The 5 cheapest boroughs to rent a flat in London

  • Barking And Dagenham - Average Rental Price: £1, 302 Per Month / £300 Per Week
  • Croydon - Average Rental Price: £1, 375 Per Month / £317 Per Week
  • Sutton- Average Rental Price: £1, 407 Per Month / £325 Per Week
  • Bromley - Average Rental Price: £1, 458 Per Month / £336 Per Week
  • Lewisham - Average Rental Price: £1, 534 Per Month / £354 Per Week

Here’s a tip: when you have found a place, whether it be for 2 years or not, make sure that you make a comprehensive list of the inventory and its current state. This is just in case your landlord or letting agent decides to be a bit cheeky at the end of your tenancy and charge you for some damage that you did not incur. Snap some photos of the place when you first move in and email them with a timestamp so that both of you are insured and aware of your rights.

There you have it, 10 key things to think about when you plan to start searching for a flat to rent in London. Once you have the right place and figure out your budget, the fun can begin! You will love every minute of living in the capital city of London! You can make this move the best and the easiest possible by following this guide, even in London there is a place for you to live and have the best time of your life in this bustling and lively city.

Don’t forget, if you're looking for somewhere to stay - whether it be short term or a longer stay in London - Erasmusu has a huge variety of accommodation options. A room in a shared flat, a space at a university residence, a studio apartment or a whole house, Erasmusu has something for everybody!

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