Flat Share or Your Own Place?
If you are looking for an established house share, you will be happy to know that there are many sites specifically aimed at helping you. These are listed at the end of the article.
A number of sites require you to sign up for free membership to view adverts and contact the advertiser. Take the opportunity to complete your profile so prospective flatmates can find out a bit about you.
When responding to an ad, ensure you mention a few things about yourself too and request to view the property – do not pay any money before viewing a property.
Be on time for the viewing and if you can’t attend or are running late, let them know.
You will be asked all sorts of questions (just like a job interview!) so be yourself! You will be living with these people so it is essential that you are a good fit no matter how much you love the place. Don’t be afraid to ask questions back.
If not mentioned in the advertisement there are a few things you need to ask:
- What is the bond?
- What are the bills and what is an average monthly amount?
- What do the bills include? (For example, council tax, internet etc.)
- Is there a cleaner and a kitty (a general pot of money to which everyone contributes to common household items)?
- Are the windows double glazed (This is important for keeping in heat and reducing noise)?
- Is the advert for a room for your exclusive use or is it a shared room?
- Is it for a week or weekend use?
- Is the room available for couples?
- Is there a living room?
Some real estate agents are used to help fill a vacancy in a house share so you can always try these too. Don’t forget that you can start your own house share. Consider buddying up to approach agents to get a flat. Find someone you like, can get on with, agree on your target area and budget and stick to it, often it works out easier creating a house share from scratch than joining as the last person in the house.
If sharing a house does not suit your needs and you are looking for a property of your own, London is full of real estate agencies, many of which provide area guides. It is important that you know where you want to rent and find agencies that work in those areas. Do not rely on the adverts on their websites, many rentals do not make it to the advertisement stage and are snapped up as soon as the agency is engaged by the landlord. Make sure you register with a few agencies in your area(s) of choice and tell them what you are looking for. Let the agents do the running around for you but don’t be afraid to keep searching on your own too. And make sure you stay in touch with the agent regularly so they know you are still looking.
Zoopla is a great site that is not exclusive to any one agency. Some other large real estate agencies are listed below.
- Do not pay a deposit/bond or any money without viewing a place first.
- Be sure to read the rental contract in detail – do not feel pressured or rushed.
- Most contracts are for 1 year and come with a 6 month break clause, this can be negotiated but ultimately it is at landlord’s discretion.
- Request any changes to the property before you sign (e.g. cleaning, painting, repairs). Make sure any wear and tear or damage is noted in the contract so you are not held responsible.
- Let your council know if you are living on your own (single occupier) as you may be eligible for a 25% discount on your Council Tax.
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