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Looking for housing

Things to Know About the Housing Market

In a survey of over 900 King’s students, we asked what information or advice they thought would be beneficial to others looking for private sector accommodation in London. Here is a breakdown of the most common points.

Rents are high in London! As with any major city, the closer you are to the centre, the more expensive it gets. Within any particular area, things such as proximity to shops, schools and transport links can also affect rent levels. The London Rents Map can give you an idea of the range of prices that are charged within any given postcode.


When should I book private accommodation?

Unless you are already living in London and need to move in this summer before mid- August we would advise you to think very carefully before committing yourself to a housing contract for next academic year at this stage. It is important that you sign up for accommodation only after fully considering if it meets your needs, and when you will be realistically able to move.

Please be assured that London has a vast and fluid housing market and tenants usually look for somewhere to live around 4-6 weeks before they need to move in. The University of London Housing Service will launch its new Property Platform on Tuesday 11th August, and make their housing lists available at the Online Housing Fair on the 13th August.

Once you have found somewhere suitable to live you can speak to the University of London Housing Service or the Housing Advisers, in Advice & Guidance, if you wish to check the terms of your tenancy agreement.

Fast-paced market

The private rental market in London moves quickly. It may be that the day you take to think about a property is all the time it takes for another group to rent it for themselves. This is a common occurrence, but you should always remember that other properties will become available. Keep searching – make sure that you’re looking in as many places as possible.

You need to be in London to find accommodation

With the exception of booking places in Private Halls of Residence, you need to be in London to secure your accommodation in the private sector.

You need to view a property (and the surrounding area) before you can decide whether it will be a suitable home for you over the next year. You are advised to book some short-term accommodation to use as a base while conducting your search:

You may also have friends or relatives in London who are able to accommodate you for a short period.

Do your research

There are things you can do from outside London to familiarise yourself with the rental market.  Look at websites like, and to get an idea of the sort of properties that are available and the prices that are being charged in different locations. That way you will have a more realistic idea of what you can afford and where you should be looking before you start your search.

Be sure to check out our safety tips before responding to any adverts you see on websites.

To see what other students say about different areas of London, check out the links here.

Face to face / telephone contact

When arranging viewings, face to face or telephone contact is preferable to relying on email/websites. You don't want to waste time waiting for a response to an email when a quick telephone call will suffice.

Before calling, you may find it helpful to prepare a list of questions to cover all points that may be important to you, such as:

  • Does the property have a washing machine?
  • Is there a phone-line already installed?
  • Does the landlord have a Gas Safety Certificate?
  • Does the building have an elevator?

If you’re new to the country and looking for accommodation, it would be wise to equip yourself with a mobile phone.

Get it in writing!

If you are handing over any money (such as a holding deposit) make sure that the agent or landlord gives you a receipt. Ideally, the receipt should clearly state what the money is for and under what circumstances it will be returned to you.

If an estate agent promises you something when viewing a property, (that a desk will be provided, for example) get this in writing as soon as you can. Send an email to them confirming what was said and request that this is added to the tenancy agreement.

Plan your house-hunting days efficiently 

Try to organise your search days so that a day or 1/2 day is concentrated in one particular area. This avoids having to waste time by travelling long distances between viewings. If you are late for a viewing then someone else might take the property!

Guarantors / Referees

Nearly all landlords and letting agents will ask for a UK-based guarantor. This is so that they have someone else to turn to should a tenant stop paying the rent.

I don't know anyone who can act as my guarantor. What can I do?

Those who are unable to provide a UK-based guarantor for their rent (as is the case for most international students) are usually asked to pay up to 6 months rent in advance. This is a standard industry practice, but there is no set rule as to how much rent you should pay up-front. The London Student Housing Guide website has some useful information on negotiating, references and guarantors.

I know someone who is willing to act as my guarantor. How do I limit their liability to my share of the rent, rather than that for the whole household?

A guarantor who wishes to guarantee the rent for only one tenant in a shared flat or house must raise this issue with the landlord or letting agent. You can download a Guarantor Form from the London Student Housing Guide website that limits liability to one person's share of the rent.


plainbannernarrowThis page is for information purposes only. King's College London accepts no liability or responsibility for any of the external/3rd party websites or accommodation providers mentioned or linked to on this web-page.

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