With the housing market suffering and retirees losing savings and pensions there is a lot of focus on protecting the rights of and offering protections for those buying and selling home.  What about the renter, though?  It seems like the whole world has forgotten about the woes facing renters when they begin the search for a new home and ultimately sign the contract or lease on London flats.  Everyone needs to protect themselves when renting, but American expats renting a flat in London especially need to be careful.

1)    Before going with any agency do some independent research into the prices of London flats.  Make sure you understand exactly what your money will get you and what it won’t.  Not being prepared is no one’s fault but your own.

2)    Even though it is tempting to rush through the search process when moving to London from America try hard to give London flats the time they deserve when picking and choosing.  Walk through neighborhoods, talk to others living nearby and really give the flat a good once-over while inside.  It will be too late to do that after the decision has been made.

3)    Be sure you understand all fees associated with using a London relocation service or agent to identify potential flats to rent.  In most circumstances it is well worth the money spent to hire a relocation agent, but you do need to be aware of their fees before working with them in finding the perfect flat.

4)    Just like in the States prices are negotiable.  Although the landlord doesn’t have to lower their asking price it never hurts to haggle a little bit.  Prices are outrageously high for flats and any money saved will help you out.

5)    Be very clear about payment and other technical issues before signing the lease.  Does the landlord require cash, a check, or direct deposit? Who should you call in the middle of the night with a plumbing emergency? It’s best to work out those issues before they arise.

6)    Everyone should walk through London flats with the landlord before moving in making a list of all problems and imperfections.  Note if the curtains are stained, floors scratched, walls nicked or faucets leaking.  Most likely your relocation agent will want to accompany you and we recommend they do.

7)    Make sure you are aware of what constitutes losing your deposit.  The lease agreement for a flat should specify exactly what results in a lost deposit.