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Housing in the UK: A Guide for Expats

Renting in the UK Renting is a popular choice among expats in the UK, especially in cities like London where property prices are high. Whether you're looking for an apartment, a house, or a shared...

Renting in the UK

Renting is a popular choice among expats in the UK, especially in cities like London where property prices are high. Whether you're looking for an apartment, a house, or a shared room, there are plenty of options to suit your needs and budget.

Young people in a shared kitchen Image: Young people in a shared kitchen

To find a rental, you can contact landlords directly through platforms like OpenRent and Gumtree. Another option is to use an estate agent who can provide valuable insights about the local area.

Once you've viewed several properties and chosen one you like, you'll be required to pay a holding deposit, usually equivalent to one week's rent. This deposit will become part of your secure and refundable tenancy deposit, which you'll need to pay when you move in. On moving day, you'll also need to pay one month's rent and a five or six-week tenancy deposit before signing the contract and receiving the keys.

Renting in the UK has become more tenant-friendly due to government restrictions on estate agency fees that came into effect in mid-2019. Previously, estate agents could impose various charges, but now only rent, a refundable tenancy deposit, a holding deposit, and expenses associated with ending a tenancy contract early are permitted.

Rental contracts in the UK can be requested for six or 12 months. If you're unsure about the duration of your stay, it's best to opt for a six-month contract to avoid high costs for ending a 12-month contract early. There are directories designed for expats that offer short-term rental options, such as Homelike and HousingAnywhere. For longer stays, websites like Rightmove and Zoopla can be helpful.

Social Housing in the UK

Affordable housing in the UK includes rented social housing, affordable rented housing, and intermediate housing. These options are designed for eligible tenants whose incomes do not meet the prices of the housing market.

Social housing is usually rented from a housing association, while council housing is rented from the local council. To qualify for social housing, you generally need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • British or Irish citizenship
  • Indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • Settled status under the EU settlement scheme
  • Right of abode as a Commonwealth citizen
  • Refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • A visa that allows recourse to public funds

You also need to demonstrate a low-income wage to apply for social housing. Although waiting times can be lengthy, it's worth registering if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Renting out Your Property in the UK

If you're planning to rent out your property in the UK or live in it for a short while before becoming a landlord, you need to select a buy-to-let mortgage at the time of purchase or consult with your solicitor about changing your mortgage to a buy-to-let mortgage. Many banks, including HSBC, offer expat mortgage schemes and provide support throughout the process.

Once you have the right mortgage, you can choose to manage the rental process and income yourself or hire an estate agent to handle it for you. Keep in mind that estate agents typically charge 10-20% of the monthly rent as their fee. The property must be let under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), unless you're using a Company Let Agreement where a company rents the property on behalf of an employee.

Renting out your property can be a lucrative investment, but it's crucial to understand the legal and financial requirements involved. Consulting with a professional can help ensure a smooth process.

Remember, whether you're renting or considering social housing, it's important to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and requirements that apply to your situation. Seeking advice from local experts can provide valuable insights and ensure a positive housing experience in the UK.

Source: Original Article