Unlike Italy or Germany, renting in England is not as common so subject to rogue landlords, as often you have the choice of scouring Spare Room or paying a fortune to letting agents via Right Move. But here are better ways to rent or let homes both here (and inspiration from abroad). Renting is now more difficult as higher mortgages for landlords mean higher rents, yet available properties reducing. Read more on how to get out of debt.
Finland’s nonprofit landlord Y-Säätiö not only owns 20,000 homes to work with councils, but is the first country to have no homelessness (along with Denmark, the only country’s with falling rates). Its M2-Kodit homes are fully-furnished, affordable and safe with access to green space, public transport and laundry.
ideas to simplify the rental market
The government’s Rent-a-Room scheme lets householders earn up to £7500 tax-free income (halved if you share income) from letting furnished rooms (you can also use this to rent B & B and hotel rooms, out of season to earn income during winter, and avoid tax).
Zero Deposit replaces the five-weeks-in-advance security property. FCA-regulated and accepted by most estate agents, you pay one week’s rent and a £50 fee, then £17.50 a year (there’s a Dispute service).
Marks Out of Tenancy and Rate Your Landlord (for students) lets you rate on handling of deposits, safety, security, repairs and value. Some landlords are not happy but there’s a right to reply (and if you can review a kettle, you should be able to review someone taking hundreds of pounds each month, in return for a stable home).
tips for renting with pets
- Lets with Pets (run by Dogs Trust) has info for tenants and a free Good Practice Handbook for landlords (Endsleigh Insurance provides landlords with pet policy cover). Their advice includes:
- Begin searching at least 8 weeks beforehand, to plenty of time to find the proper place. Be flexible but know that if you work all day your dog will be bored and likely bark, so take your dog to work or hire a walker.
- Write a pet CV including references from friends, vets and previous landlords. It helps to introduce them to prospective landlords too.
- Moving is stressful for pets, so have a friend or relative look after them while you move, then give dogs a nice walk and ensure familiar smells are nearby (pet beds, clothes – not socks as they are choking hazards).
- PetsLets (London) educates landlords and estate agents (half of all households have pets) to inspire them to allow pets. DogLaw has useful info, if you need help.
- If moving far, check train and tube info (avoid escalators). Driving with Dogs lists walks near motorway exits.
become a property guardian
This is where (after references and financial checks) you short-term let an empty property like an office, warehouse or empty flat for a bargain, to avoid it laying empty. We foudn one bungalow offered in East London for £700 a month (local market value is £1200). Companies include:
If you see an empty property, report it to You Spot Property. If it meets their criteria, they give you a £20 gift voucher. If they buy it, you get 1% of the price (capped at £10K – conditions apply).
alternative ways to rent
- Live in a camper van or motorhome (it’s legal if you’re taxed and registered). You can’t live on a holiday park year-round, but you can live in a caravan on a residential site.
- Move back in with your parents! It’s an option if you get on. There’s no shame and many adults have gone back to their spare rooms, and mum’s cooking. And no stress of dealing with landlords!
- Find a live-in job for a free or low price. This is often in the hotel industry (chef, waitress, housekeeper) so get photos before you travel, as they can be good or dire. More upmarket accommodation can be found in The Lady (housekeepers, gardeners, au pairs) or if you don’t mind hard work, live-in care jobs are abundant and usually include accommodation and up to £800 a week.
- Sub-let to reduce your rent. So-called ‘house-hacking’ is allowed by some landlords. If you pay £800 for a 3-bedroom house, you could find 2 friends or colleagues to pay £200 each for the single rooms.
- Homeshare UK lets people at risk of homelessness live (after checks) in a spare room of someone that needs around 10 hours of help a week (housework, dog-walking, company, shopping) and the rent is around £200 a month. You could also housesit for someone (we don’t list sites as some have good or bad reviews – look around locally).
- Homehunt and Moving Soon list housing provided by councils who accept people on low incomes and DSS – you usually have to bid with high competition. Social Rent is provided by local councils and housing associations (linked to local incomes). Affordable Rent lets properties at 80% of rental market value. Sheltered housing can be council or private, and usually for people over 55 with a manager on site, communal lounges and laundry (not regulated like care homes).