Getting Sorted With Accommodation
Housing is one of the key areas which must be considered when moving to London, and making a decision about where to live should factor in your commute, safety, local amenities, and what you can afford.
Where Should I Start Looking?
London is a sprawling city, and rental prices mean that the majority of people live outside the centre of the city and commute to work. This means that London has many long established neighbourhoods, each with their own unique character, so whether fancy yourself an ultra-cool urbanite in Dalston, or you'd prefer the leafier charms of Highgate, there's bound to be an area that suits you.
Traditionally Irish people settled in North London, around Camden, Brent and Cricklewood. More recent emigrants have settled across a broad range of the city, with areas like Clapham, Hackney and Fulham proving popular. Websites such as http://www.rentonomy.com/ can be helpful in understanding the breakdown of different areas in London, who they attract, and how much they cost.
Rental prices in London are on average higher than those in Ireland, with a one bed apartment renting for an average of £1,211 (€1,486). Most housing is also priced excluding bills, so these will be additional to your rent. You can expect to pay for energy (gas/electric), water, council tax, as well as internet and tv. Because of these costs, many emigrants opt for shared housing, as it is both more affordable and more social.
Securing a property is also a more formal process than in Ireland; many properties are marketed exclusively through agencies, and so agency fees may be applicable. Landlords can also require detailed proof of income, employment, or a rental guarantor before a rental agreement is secured. In the UK, landlords are also required by law to hold your deposit with a government backed third party, so you should make sure that they are doing this. More info on deposits can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview
As a general rule, you should aim to have a month’s rent, a month’s deposit, and potential agency fees available to you when looking for somewhere to rent. Once you have secured accommodation, your landlord should provide you with a full tenancy agreement, detailing the rental amount, length of the tenancy, and both your and their responsibilities. You can find out more about your legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant here: https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/your-rights-and-responsibilities
Emigrants often stay with friends or family while they search for accommodation, but if this isn’t an option there are many backpackers hostels which offer reasonably priced accommodation for short or longer term stays in the interim.You can search for hostels through websites such as http://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/London and http://www.hostels.com/london/england.
There have been several recent changes to housing benefit and some landlords will not accept it as a form of payment. To find out more about your entitlements, contact a London Irish Centre advice worker.
What to do if you are at risk of homelessness
If you are homeless or you are at risk of becoming homeless, there are steps that you can take.
You can contact the London Irish Centre’s advice team for advice and support, or contact organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.
In unique situations, you may receive local authority housing, but this is usually only applicable in extreme cases. There are also a number of hostels run by voluntary organisations, housing associations, councils and private landlords. You can get details of hostels in your area from an advice centre, the council or your local library. Many hostels will only accept people via referrals, so it is useful to first speak to an advice centre.
From December to March, cold weather shelters also operate in areas such as Camden and Islington. These also only take in people who have been referred, so you will need to speak to an advice worker. If you need to see an advice worker regarding a referral to a hostel or shelter, please come to see The London Irish Centre’s advice team.
For general information
For Finding Accommodation
Regarding Housing Benefit
If You Are At Risk Of Homelessness
For a more detailed guide about making the move, you can also read The London Irish Centre’s Moving to London booklet here.
*Please note, the London Irish Centre does not work in partnership with any letting agencies or private landlords. All links and information provided are from independent sources, and The London Irish Centre is not responsible for the content