The essential guide to renting in London in 2015

Homes within a 10-minute walk of a Tube or train station are at the top of the list for London's growing number of renters. In this new series focusing on the capital's rental hotspots, we uncover the best-value areas for tenants to snap up a home.
Renting has become a well-established London way of life - changing the capital’s housing market. It is a similar story across the country, with the number of people renting in the UK almost doubling from 2.5 million a decade ago to 4.8 million today. A further 1.1 million are expected to join the rental sector during the next five years.

About 30 per cent of all households rent in the capital, and half of 20- to 35-year-old Londoners not only rent now, but expect that renting will be the norm in the future.

This shift to private renting may appear to go against the nation’s emotional attachment to home ownership but rental Britain is clearly here to stay, driven by the high property prices that currently exclude many would-be buyers.

People today are also getting married and starting families much later in life, so the average first-time buyer age has crept up from 27 in the Eighties to 37 now.

REVEALED: THE AVERAGE COST OF RENTING IN EVERY LONDON BOROUGH
Source: VOA / london.gov.uk/rents



A CHANCE TO LIVE CENTRAL
Employment patterns are changing, too, with people switching jobs and their working location more frequently, which puts a premium on flexibility. In London, tenants can often rent more centrally than they could afford to buy. 

The capital’s rental market is also boosted by the increasing number of single households here, and by the influx of economic migrants and the growth in the number of divorcees and students. 

Britons are not newcomers to renting. It was a popular way to live after the Second World War and remained a comfortable option until the end of the Sixties.

However, it acquired a downmarket image after a string of scandals involving rogue landlords. Tight new legislation followed and the sector’s reputation has been largely restored — yet London’s rental market has never enjoyed the steady upward trajectory seen in Continental Europe’s major cities, including Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Amsterdam, where up to 60 per cent of households happily rent privately, with many families living in the same rented house for generations.
 
READ MORE:
WHERE TO RENT IN LONDON: AN AREA GUIDE TO BOW


A NEW "BUSINESS MODEL" FOR PRIVATE RENTING
In an attempt to stablise London’s up-and-down rental market, government and the property industry have been working on a new “business model” for private rented housing that could offer tenants good-quality accommodation, with security of tenure, that can be rented from a trusted private or commercial landlord.

This is already taking shape, with purpose-built flats under construction in places such as Elephant & Castle, Wembley and Stratford.
 
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£1,733 a month (£400 a week): a two-bedroom, eighth-floor flat, ideal for sharers in Aqua Vista Square, Canary Wharf, to rent through Benham and Reeves

CHOOSING A LOCATION: WHERE TO LOOK
Two thirds of London tenants want to be within a 10-minute walk of a Tube or train station. Zones 2 and 3 are the most popular rental areas, especially the walk-to-work districts ringing the City and West End, the main employment centres. Yet across London there is a huge range of accommodation, from £80-a-week house shares and cheap bedsits to mid-market flats at new developments, to ultra-expensive luxury rentals.

Figures from estate agent Winkworth, which has a capital-wide branch network, show the considerable variation in rents. In the centre they are at least twice as high as in outer London. In general, rents are lowest in south London, outer north London and parts of east London. While one-bedroom flats in Notting Hill range from £1,200 to £2,600 a month, in Crystal Palace it is £625 to £825. In Tottenham or Wembley, the range is from £600 to £800, while in Walthamstow, it’s £600 to £700. 

Find out the cost of renting in any area of London, by street or postcode, using a website set up by Mayor Boris Johnson. Its “rents map” reveals the average cost of renting for the size of home you are seeking, so a two-bedroom flat in  Kensington typically costs £620 a week, whereas the London average is £325 a week. Visit www.london.gov.uk/rents.

Though London rents are rising, tenants are having to compete for homes, says estate agent Barnard Marcus. Eleven tenants chase every new property coming on to the market. Those seeking cheaper accommodation have triggered a boom in flatshares, says website Easyroommate. London’s flatshare population is about 700,000 and average monthly room rental is £563, some 40 per cent cheaper than the cost of renting the apartment outright.

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