Accommodation in the United Kingdom
The quality and affordability of housing in the United Kingdom varies widely.
While expats will struggle to find spacious, high-quality accommodation that doesn't bankrupt them in notoriously expensive London, there are areas of the UK where people can still find lovely housing at a decent price.
Types of accommodation in the United Kingdom
Accommodation in the UK is divided into these general categories:
Bungalows (houses with one storey only - these are typically found along the coast)
Flats (or apartments)
Maisonettes (flats with more than one storey)
Studio flats or bedsits (one-room apartments)
All these forms of housing are widespread throughout the UK, with flats, maisonettes and bedsits dominating in the more urban areas. House-sharing (renting an individual room in a larger house shared by others) is another popular option among expats in the United Kingdom – and is an avenue usually pursued out of financial necessity.
Finding property in the United Kingdom
Finding a place to rent in the UK is a straightforward process, but it can be made more difficult by the speed at which the market moves. Expats should be prepared to move quickly when they see a place they like, as the competition for good-value rentals can be cut-throat. In some cases, it may even be necessary to commit to the property during the initial viewing. Usually, a holding deposit equivalent to one week's rent will be enough to secure the property while the rental agreement is sorted out.
As far as finding a place to rent goes, expats can look into one (or more) of the following options:
Local newspapers and magazines carry private listings – tenants will be able to call the owner or landlord directly to arrange a viewing.
Websites and Internet property portals regularly publish rental adverts. These are especially good for house-sharing options (use 'room to rent' as a search term).
Real estate agents are a dependable source of information and help when it comes to looking for a place to rent, but they charge for their services. Also bear in mind that UK real estate agencies do not share their listings with one another, so expats should check all the agencies in the area to find the best deal. The National Approved Letting Scheme's website has a list of approved agencies and landlords.
Renting property in the UK
Lease agreements in the UK are generally signed on a six-month or one-year basis, with an option to renew should the tenant desire to do so. A six-month break clause can be negotiated for 12-month leases, allowing the tenant to back out of the full term with 30 or 60 days notice. Expats must be wary of this clause as it cuts both ways – and since rental prices are attached to market prices in the UK, the landlord might look to break the rental agreement early should these fluctuate and charge new tenants a higher monthly fee.
Note that expats will also be required to provide six weeks' rent as a deposit, and letters of reference from their employer and previous landlords to secure a rental agreement. Tenants will also likely be liable for their own gas, electricity, water, phone, Internet and council tax bills while renting in the UK.