The search of London flats can be very stressful to many Americans moving to London.  Between the cultural differences, the common annoyances that accompany living in a major city and the language barrier (yes, there is a language barrier) it is easy to settle for the first London flat that fits your budget and is relatively near a Tube station.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Rather than settle for less than you want go to look at London flats armed with a checklist of questions to ask and items to check out inside the flat itself. Below are a few important items that need to be on your checklist and are easy to forget after viewing twenty or more London flats.

1)    What furniture comes with the flat? This is an important question as a flat may be staged with rental furniture.  American expats need pay extra attention to this one because closets are not standard and many flats do not come with wardrobes.

2)    Talk to neighboring renters.  Don’t be obnoxious or intrusive but if you see a neighbor walking their dog or coming home from work take the opportunity to ask them about the building, the neighborhood and the landlord.  Neighborhoods have nothing to lose and will generally be honest.

3)    Check for heat sources and insulation.  Old buildings may be beautiful but many are not insulated which means sky-high utility bills for you.  Ask for past bill amounts for the flat to see how it runs compared to other flats in your budget.

4)    Ask about common areas.  Who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining common areas likes hallways, patios, foyers and courtyards.  Is there a fee for such maintanence?

5)    Security.  This is probably the most important part of your London flat search.  Do not consider living in a home that is not safe.  This is not just the neighborhood but also applies to the building and unit itself.  Check for locks, security systems, and breaches to such.

6)    Check all the water faucets.  While looking inside the apartment turn on all the faucets to make sure they work and check for hot water where it is supposed to be.  Also flush toilets.  And run the shower or bath.

These are just a few items to keep on a quick checklist when searching for the perfect new home in the UK.  The most important thing to remember when searching London flats is that your gut usually does not lie – if it feels off or bad, it probably is.