5 expert hacks for finding houses or flats to rent in London

Properties to rent in London are notoriously hard to find. After sending a dozen queries about flats to rent in London and a few flat tours later, you’ll realise why everyone finds it difficult to secure a place to rent in the capital.

The market moves very quickly and is expensive in comparison to the rest of the UK. Flats you visit are often already leased within the day, so you have to be quick.

It’s only a lucky few who find a good flat for the right price through online portals. To help you join that group, here’s some advice to help your property search.

1. Large flat and house hunting sites are great to find areas that fit your price range

Two of the largest property sites in the UK are Zoopla and Rightmove and serve as great places to start your property search. These sites will give you a great ballpark figure of what it cost to stay in various parts of the city.

Most searches to find flats or houses for rent begin on these websites. The largest sites include Gumtree, Zoopla, and Rightmove. Other smaller players, especially for house sharing, include Spareroom and Open Rent.

That being said, many of the ads listed through these sites are outdated or have already been let. While it is possible to secure a property through these sites, it can be extremely difficult to find exactly what you are looking for – which is where estate and letting agents come in.

2. Agents in your ideal neighbourhoods can connect you to London properties before they’re listed online

If you’ve narrowed down what neighbourhood you want to live in, contact estate and letting agents in that area. Neighbourhood agents know as soon as properties hit the market. They can connect you with exactly the type of property you are looking for before it’s even listed online.

Remember to check estate agent fees as an additional cost when securing your property. Agents are required by law to publish their fees in full.

You should also remember that property tours tend to be during traditional working hours and letting agents will not do a tour later than 6:30. Be sure to let your work know you’ll need to leave early/arrive late while completing your property hunt.

3. Walk around the areas you’re interested in and look for “To let” signs

It may seem counter-intuitive but this can be a great way to find properties that are not listed online. It’s also wise to check newspaper classified ads and don’t shy away from adverts written in all caps.

It could be that the landlord has a great property but is slightly older and not used to listing their property online. Some of the best flats to rent in London can be found this way.

4. If you find a place you like, move fast!

High demand means you need to make a quick decision to get a good place. If you like a place, chances are someone else will like it too. Be ready to place a holding deposit within a few hours of your visit because the best places can easily go on the market in the morning and be gone by the afternoon. The holding deposit is typically the first month of rent in advance so make sure you have that money saved upfront.

5. Don’t give up hope when searching for your new home

As we said, finding flats to rent in London is hard but don’t give up hope. You can check out our guide to some of the best places to live in London to gain inspiration. There are plenty of great places to live around the city so keep a positive attitude and you will find the right place for you.