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Renting a Home in London

house for rent in LondonSome 70 per cent of Britons own their own homes – one of the highest figures in Europe – and renting isn’t as common in the UK as it is in many other European countries, where many people are happy to rent for their entire lifetimes. Traditionally there hasn’t been a particularly strong rental market in the UK, although this has changed dramatically in the last few decades with new law regarding renting and the advent to buy-to-let mortgages (I’ll explain that further ahead). Nowadays renters get a good deal and can afford to be choosy, with the booming buy-to-let market creating a wealth of rental properties, particularly in London where the cost of property is prohibitively expensive for many people.

If you need to rent a property for a short period while looking for a long-term home, you can rent a serviced apartment. This is a fully furnished and equipped flat with a kitchen, television, video, broadband and maid service. These are generally intended for short lets of a weeks or months and cost around twice as much as a similar apartment with a long-term tenancy, around the same as a hotel room. They are, however, ideal for a short period while you look for a long-term rental. To find a serviced apartment or a man and van in London, simply enter ‘serviced apartments’ or ‘van with a man’ and add ‘London’ in a search engine such as Google.

A lot of people prefer rather to buy than to rent a home, which certainly isn’t just for the young, the insecure and the desperate – which is how it has customarily been portrayed in the UK. It has to be added that some homeowners still look down on renters as an inferior species. Although most Britons prefer to buy, and it definitely pays to buy a home in the long term, there are a number of advantages to renting:

  • renting allows you to live in a size or style of property that’s out of your price range or in an area where you couldn’t possibly afford to buy a home;
  • it can save you money and leave you better placed to buy a home at a later date, as you can move quickly to buy when the market is favourable;
  • renting gives you time to save a deposit so that you can afford a mortgage and/or can obtain a better mortgage deal;
  • it can be a more sensible financial option as there are hidden costs of owning a home (buying property is a liability as well as an asset);
  • renting allows you to use your capital for more lucrative venture, such as starting a business or buying a home abroad (where property may be a better investment);
  • you can rent a furnished property, which saves you having to spend money on furniture and furnishing;
  • renting gives you freedom from DIY (do-it-yourself) and maintenance costs;
  • It provides increased flexibility, particularly if you don’t expect to remain in London long-term. Renting a home is generally the best option for those who plan to stay less than two years;

Buy-to-let mortgages

renting or buying

Few paragraphs back I mentioned the ‘buy-to-let’ mortgages and now I will dedicate this paragraph to explain it thoroughly. It was introduced in the mid 90s for those planning to buy investment property and proved extremely popular. Most lenders will lend a maximum of 75 or 80 per cent of the value of a property, and it will also lend to first-time buyers) and expect the rental income to be around 130 per cent of the monthly mortgage repayments. Interest rates are typically around 1 per cent higher than standard residential loans, although some lenders offer a discount for a number of years. If you have surplus rental income it can be used to make overpayments on your mortgage and you can also choose to have your rental payments paid directly in to your mortgage ‘account’ if you have a flexible or current account mortgage.

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