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Tips for Renting in London: A Comprehensive Guide

You just arrived in London and are about to start a new life here. The first thing you need is a nice place to live in. But before you start renting in London, you might be wondering: Which district is the safest? And which one is the most expensive? Where and how can I find properties to rent? What should I do if I happen to have a bad landlord? Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you find your dream accommodation in London.

Things You Need to Know before Renting in London

Districts in London

London contains 33 local government districts: the 32 London boroughs, and the City of London. And the 32 boroughs are divided into Inner London (12 districts) and Outer London (20 districts).

London map
Inner London
City of Westminster Lambeth Islington
Kensington and Chelsea Southwark Camden
Hammersmith and Fulham Tower Hamlets Lewisham
Wandsworth Hackney Greenwich
Outer London
Brent Merton Havering Haringey
Ealing Sutton Barking and Dagenham Enfield
Hounslow Croydon Redbridge Barnet
Richmond Bromley Newham Harrow
Kingston Bexley Waltham Forest Hillingdon

Given the large area London covers, it is necessary to build an efficient transportation system. Therefore, London is divided into different zones. Each zone is given a station on the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands, Light Railway, and National Railway. The 6 main London zones and major attractions in some zones are listed below:

  • Zone 1 – Central London. Attractions: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, the British Museum, the Science Museum, etc.
  • Zone 2 – Inner London. Attractions: Regents Park, London Zoo, Shoreditch, Arsenal FC Stadium, Chelsea FC Stadium, Clapham Common, etc. 
  • Zone 3 – Between Inner London and Outer London. Attractions: Wimbledon, Kew Gardens and London City Airport, Elephant and Castle (11 min underground), London Bridge (12 mins), etc.
  • Zone 4 – Outer Part of London. Attractions: Petersham Nurseries, Eltham Palace, Modern Hall Park, Bang Bang Oriental, Kingston Upon Thames, RAF Museum, etc.
  • Zone 5 – Suburbs of London. Attractions: Eel Pie island, Ruislip Lido, Alexandra Palace, Kew gardens, etc. 
  • Zone 6 – Suburbs of London.

Safety in the Neighbourhood

Safety is the first thing you need to be concerned about when you are finding properties to rent in London, and it’s one of the top priorities to choose a place where the crime rate is low.

If you’d like to check out the crime rate in a particular area, you can open the official website of London’s Metropolitan Police and enter the postcode of the area, and its crime rate will be shown. 

London Postcode

Rent and Your Budget

Apart from the security concern, you may also consider the distance between your home and your university or workplace when finding your desired property to rent in London.

The rent in Zone 1 and 2 where most of the universities and companies are located is relatively higher, so if you are on a tight budget, it might be a better choice to avoid renting in the central areas of London. You may need a longer commute, but it can save you a good deal of budget. There is usually cheap accommodation for rent in areas like SE2, SE28, and SE9, with a monthly rent of less than £1000.

The Best Cities to Live in the UK – 2024 Edition

Finding and Viewing Properties

Where to Find

  • Rental service websites, such as uhomes.
  • Letting agents.
  • Other platforms and forums.
cheap student accommodation london

Tips for Viewing Properties

  • Check the surroundings. This includes the nearby transportation, supermarkets, restaurants, gyms, etc.
  • Pay attention to the state of doors and windows, smoke detectors and alarms, and anything that requires electricity.
  • Make sure to ask who is responsible for maintaining the facilities of the property when they get damaged.
  • Ask about utility bills and the Council Tax.
  • If you have a roommate or roommates, ask them how long they are going to stay here.

Reserving the Property You Desired

tenancy agreement

Paying a Holding Deposit

Once you have found a desired flat or house to rent in London and you’d like to reserve it, you are required to pay a holding deposit to the landlord or letting agent before entering into the main tenancy agreement, and the deposit should be no more than 1 week’s rent.

Signing the Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and the landlord or letting agent. It sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy. Here are the main things you should look out for when you are signing the agreement:

The agreement must be provided by a reputable law firm, otherwise it may not be valid.

  • Pay attention to the duration of the agreement and the break clause, especially the time when you can move out, and when you need to give notice to the landlord or letting agent before moving out.
  • Make sure the agreement is clear about the amount of rent, the payment method, and the items and amount of additional fees. According to the Tenant Fees Act 2019, there are only 7 types of legal payments in a tenancy agreement:
  1. rent
  2. tenancy deposit (up to 5 weeks’ rent)
  3. holding deposit (up to 1 week’s rent)
  4. payments associated with early termination of the tenancy
  5. payments for the variations (up to £50)
  6. payments of bills (utilities, communication services, TV licence, and Council Tax)
  7. a fee for the replacement of a lost key

Paying Your Tenancy Deposit and Rent

Tenancy Deposit

Before you pay for the place you rent in London, make sure to check if your deposit is protected with one of the 3 deposit protection schemes:

  1. The Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
  2. My Deposits
  3. Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

All 3 providers have a free dispute resolution service if you cannot agree about deductions or the return of your deposit when your tenancy ends.


If you are a student, you may need to pay the rent for the first 6 months in advance. After the first 6 months, you can choose to pay 6 months or 1 month at a time. 

Moving in

move in

When you finish the preparation of renting described above, you are ready to move to your new home! If you have a letting agent, they may arrange an inventory check to ensure the state of the property the first day you move in. The charge for this should be paid by the landlord, so be careful if the agreement stipulates that you pay the fee for the inventory check.

End of Tenancy and Moving out

move out

After living here for a period, you decide to move out from the property you’re currently renting in London. But before you hand over the place to your landlord or letting agent, it is necessary to do a thorough cleaning first. A convenient way is to ask for a professional end-of-tenancy cleaning.

Another important thing is that you should check your utility bills and pay them off to the providers. 


  1. Bloomsbury: Located near major universities like University College London (UCL) and SOAS University of London, Bloomsbury is known for its proximity to academic institutions.

  2. South Kensington: Home to Imperial College London, South Kensington is a culturally rich area. It offers easy access to museums, beautiful parks, and a variety of amenities.

  3. Camden: Famous for its vibrant atmosphere, Camden offers a diverse range of entertainment options, and is close to several universities.

  4. Shoreditch: Located in East London, Shoreditch is a hub for art, fashion, and technology, with numerous galleries, street art, and a thriving nightlife scene.

  5. Greenwich: Situated in South-East London, Greenwich is known for its maritime history, the Royal Observatory, and the picturesque Greenwich Park.

The cost of student accommodation in the UK can vary greatly depending on the location and type of accommodation. On average, students spend between £400 and £1,200 per month. However, in cities such as London and Manchester, costs can be higher, up to £1,500 per month.

One of the most important advantages of private student accommodation compared to student halls is the enhanced level of comfort, convenience, and amenities provided. Private student accommodation often offers a higher standard of living, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of students.

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