PDA

View Full Version : Questions for L from foreign T (room in London)



rcj
13-08-2010, 16:34 PM
My girlfriend and I are moving to London end of September, as I will start my
Masters in Oktober at ICL.As both of us are not from the UK we would like to
prepare any needed documents in advance, if possible, to minimize time and
work for the L and us.

We tried to read as much as possible on the topic over the last few days
which brought up a few questions,as the housing market in the UK (or
especially in London) seems to be a little bit different from the one in
Germany.

So far we planned to come to London about two weeks before uni starts. Is it
reasonable to find something within two weeks? We thought so, as the
market in London seems to be very fast moving?

References
In general the L will ask us for references. So far we either lived at home or
in uni accommodation. We spent some time of our bachelor degree in the uk
in uni accommodation, is it possible and worth trying to get some kind of
reference from them? Or do L's don't accept references from uni
accommodation?

Finance check
What we read so far is that a finance check is not really possible as we are
from abroad? We both have bank accounts in the UK which where used for
paying tuition fees, accommodation and living costs during uni. Additionally I
could provide bank statements of my German accounts, if that would be of
any use. Question: Is it useful to make copy's of statements of all bank
accounts to show to potential L's, or is it a waste of time/paper as we could
have made them up/they are foreign and not known to the L?

We also read that in our case (foreign and student) it is quite common to pay
some or all rent in advance as we do not have a british guarantor and finance
and reference checks are hard/not possible?
We saved a reasonable amount for this case but we also read that for some
L's it is rather suspicious if prospective T's offer to pay that much rent in
advance. Is this also the case for a room in a flatshare? As most of this
concernes where regarding drug plants in I assume single flats, not flat
shares. If so, should we wait if the L brings up the topic by himself, or
suggest it when it comes to a problem concerning references, finance check
due to being foreign?

What other documents beside the ones mentioned above and copy's of our
passports can/should we prepare and take with us?

I case we find a suitable property what should we look out for?
Mold, damp, any kind of damage to anything in the room or communal
areas?
Is it wise to make a inventory list, if the L doesn't made one himself as well
as pictures of the room? What else should we watch out for?

Regarding the deposit. If I read correct this has to be protected within 2
weeks? If so does the L gives us a notice if this is done, do we have to ask
the L about it, or what else should we do?

After all the Scam threads I read I am probably a little bit paranoid by know,
but I just want to prepare as much in advance as possible to minimize work
on both sides. We would appreciate any advice/tips.

Thank you in advance!

Kind regards,
Robin

TenantsLuvMe
13-08-2010, 17:23 PM
REFERENCING/FINANCIAL CHECKS
Some agencies who carry our referencing can check on people in most countries.

What is obtained in a tenant assessment check/reference however, can vary quite a bit.
The landlord has to do decide whether they want to do this.

If you have UK payment/financial history, this will most likely help with identifying you.

In addition, your letter from the university where you have secured a place would be a strong piece of documentation that you should bring (bring multiple hard copies and keep a copy of it to your email account for future use).
This will most likely satisfy a LL as to your intentions and if there was a question as to why you wished to pay all or a lot of rent upfront.

It does not follow that you would not be criminals, but the LL has to take the view that you are less likely with other pieces of available information.

Referencing and financial checks are usually part of the same report or process.

I would not offer to pay all rent upfront unless the LL asks you to do this,.

I would bring your passport and any ID cards you have.

PLANNING
I would allow more than 2 weeks to find accommodation (1 month or more), just in case you don't find what you are looking for in 2 weeks and in case you find something that you want but it won't be available for more than 2 weeks, etc.

I think you will have a lot of choice because of the low level of demand currently, depending on the area.


PROPERTY MATTERS
I would urge you to make sure the LL or rental agency produces an inventory and a check-in, to safeguard you. This should include photographs.
Ideally, this should be done by a professional, independent inventory clerk.
You will have the chance to question or query anything in the inventory or check-in report within a set period (usually upto 14 days) but make sure the LL or rental agency signs the document, as it is worthless if not.
You should also sign it too.

If the LL or agency do not have or intend to create an inventory, I would advise you to create one yourself, complete with pictures of certain points or concerns you have seen and send it to the LL and any agency. both by registered mail.

You should be able to see things like mold, damp or any funny smells.
Generally, the quality of the property is usually indicative of the attitude of the LL, so if things look neglected/dilapidated/worn/aged, etc, the LL is unlikely to care about doing anything about anything unless they have specifically told to you they will and in writing.
Such a LL is also unlikely to care about the conditions that you are living in after you move in, unless it becomes very bad (bad damp/mould, no or poor heating and/or no or unreliable hot water, etc) and they are then legally forced to do carry out repairs.

Pay attention to these areas

1. If the heating/hot water is from a gas boiler, see what it looks like. I would ask to see service records if the boiler was more than 15 years old.
2,. Ask to see the latest gas safety certificate.
3. What kind of heating does the property have if not from the gas boiler? Check what this looks like.
4. What condition is the bathroom and kitchen like - these are key rooms because they are used the most. The condition of these rooms is also a key indicator of what the landlord is like.
5. Check for smoke alarms - ideally, these should be interlinked and run by the mains electricity not batteries.
6. How good is the front door?
7. How good is the front and back door locks? These should be dead locks unless the doors are double glazed UPVC doors.
8. What are the windows like? Do they keep the noise out? Do they look in good condition?
9. Are there any window locks and do they work?
10. Does it look safe at night walking home?
11. What is the area like during evenings and weekends? Visit at these times to see for yourself - it could be very different and much noisier.
12. Speak to neighbours about the area - they can often provide revealing information that would not normally be available to you.
13. Look up crime statistics via crime sites and things like www.upmystreet.com.
You can also speak to the local police about the area you are interested in.

Ask the LL and agency any questions about anything.
They way they reply and what they say in their reply can often tell you what is in store for you.

The above is off the top of my head. I'll submit another post if I think of anything more.
Let me know if you have any questions.

Poolboy
13-08-2010, 17:24 PM
Hi Robin & welcome.

I have a flat in London which I have let to foreign students in the past. They have paid 6 mths in advance as have no UK credit. I am surprised none have checked me out, ie, it is not a scam & I am not about to be reposessed.

Probably because the flat has usually been relet to friends of outgoing tenant so they know I am ok.

Avoid Gumtree - it is full of scammers. I advertised on there & got c 50 emails, I asked for proof of ID on viewings & not 1 person replied!

Good luck, don't get ripped off, do you not know someone in London who can tell the difference between Kensington & Kennington?

rcj
13-08-2010, 18:02 PM
@TenantsLuvMe
Thank you very much for the detailed answer. Lots of valuable information.
I read some controverse threads on using agencies or not. In general would you
recommend using an agency, or try to find a private LL? I only visited London
for my interview for uni so far and therefore have no experience what so ever.

@Poolboy
Unfortunately I don't know anyone in London, that's why I am reading as much
as possible on this and other related forums.

What are the best websites/newspapers to look for rooms? I looked at spareroom,
moveflat, gumtree and easyroommate so far. Unfortunately the rooms available
that consider couples are rare. Any suggestions are highly appreciated.

Snorkerz
13-08-2010, 18:21 PM
rcj

I can't help much with your question, though I do think that telephoning a few agencies would be a much easier way of finding a landlord who is comfortable with your situation.

However, I'd just like to say that we read many sories on his forum from tenants (not only overseas) who have no idea what they are doing or agreeing to when they rent a home. It is good to hear of someone who is doing the research to discover as much as they can. I'd rather let to someone like you in your situation than an English person who can't be bothered to educate themselves.

Good luck.

TenantsLuvMe
13-08-2010, 18:50 PM
@TenantsLuvMe
Thank you very much for the detailed answer. Lots of valuable information.
I read some controverse threads on using agencies or not. In general would you
recommend using an agency, or try to find a private LL? I only visited London
for my interview for uni so far and therefore have no experience what so ever.


There are many agencies that give poor service or even worse, there are those that take advantage of you, especially when they can see you are from overseas.
Clue: Good ones should never ask you to pay anything to see any properties (forbidden).
If the agency charges you any admin fees, these should not be more than about 50 per person. More than this is exploitative, in my view..

There should not be any other "fees" or charges for you, expect perhaps, the cost of the inventory check in or check out - it is common for these costs to be shared between the LL and the tenant.
It is SO worth it as it saves any hassle and troubles at the end of the tenancy.
Costs for this vary but for small properties (a room, studio, 1 and 2 bedroom flat, the cost should not be more than 120 or so).

I cannot offer you any recommendation for letting agents because I don't use them myself. But there are good ones around.

There are no requirements t be qualified to be a letting agency, but see if they are members of ARLA and/or NAEA as this may indicate that they are a bit better.

If you find a agency that you think you like, do searches for them on the web, in the form:
(name of company) complaint or problem

Its a mixed bag what you get between a private LL and a letting agent.
If the agency is a good one, they are not likely to be doing business with a crappy or bad landlord.
The university may have info to help you find places as some landlords will offer their accommodation directly to the university.

Use your "nose' in any event - what does it feel like to you when dealing with this agency or that LL?

Sources for rooms/studios/flats- I have found spareroom.com and flatshare.com (same company) to be the best sources for me.
Everything else is either very poorly visited (Loot and newspapers are effectively worthless and way too expensive). Lots of scammers on Gumtree.

There are also some fully self-contained & inclusive rooms/studios/1 bed flats that you might like to consider in central London. and which include everything in the rent (utilities, internet, water) and they can rent by week, month or by a year and more.
I shall try to dig up their web site and post it for you (or you can PM me).

Oh yeas. Make sure you read the tenancy agreement FULLY before signing. Make sure you understand EVERYTHING before signing.

rcj
13-08-2010, 19:21 PM
@Snorkerz
Thank you!


... (or you can PM me).
Thank you very much, unfortunately I am not able to send PM's until I have at least 15 posts. Dunno if it is possible to answer to PM's if you send me one. Otherwise if you could drop me an email, I could reply on that way.

rcj
13-08-2010, 19:48 PM
@TLM
Unfortunately I am not able to answer your PM, so thank you very much for taking the time to help us and answer our questions, we really appreciate it.

Kind regards,

Robin

P.Pilcher
13-08-2010, 21:26 PM
rcj: One other thing: If you have any other queries concerning your London property hunt, you are always welcome to post back here. You will usually get an answer or so pretty quickly. Apart from us Landlords, there are also good agents, tenants, financial experts and lawyers reading and answering queries on these forums so you should receive worthwhile answers to any other queries you may have.

P.P.

Stel
16-08-2010, 16:12 PM
The university of London has an accommodation service for students and staff. Im not sure if ICL students can still use them or if they have their own service. I do suggest you have a look at their website which has a lot of useful information about different areas in London, what to look for in properties and advice about dealing with letting agents. You may be entitled to register and be sent their accommodation list and list of agents.
http://housing.london.ac.uk/cms/
This site may also be useful particularily if you are looking for a flatshare http://www.intolondon.com/.
Good luck and hope you enjoy studying in London.