Renting Property in the United Kingdom

The majority of expats in the United Kingdom opt to rent rather than buy property. This is partly due to the temporary nature of expat assignments and also due to the high cost of housing, especially in the capital.

The process of renting property is generally the same throughout the UK, although finding property in cities is often much harder.

Types of property

Expats moving to the United Kingdom will find a variety of properties. From quaint rustic cottages in the countryside to large family homes in the suburbs and slick city apartments, expats will find something to suit their requirements.  

Expats will find that in most British cities space comes at a premium and city centre apartments tend to be small. Thanks to good public transport links however, it is possible to commute to work quite easily which affords people more options.

Rental costs especially in major cities like London, Edinburgh and even Manchester are notoriously high. Expats should consider negotiating an accommodation allowance into their employment contract if possible.

Finding property

Finding a property to rent in the UK isn’t too difficult, especially for those who are flexible in whereabouts they want to live. Property portals are a great starting point as they allow expats to do research into the cost and availability of properties in various areas, even before they arrive in the UK. There are also lots of online forums which allow expats to connect with other property seekers in order to find shared accommodation.

The easiest option when it comes to finding property in the UK is enlisting the services of an estate agent. Estate agents have an intimate knowledge of the property market in a given city or region and can advise new arrivals on neighbourhoods that are most suitable for them. The major advantage of working through an agent is than they can assist expats. Agents do charge a fee for their services but this is paid by the landlord when they list the property.

Local newspapers and property magazines are also a good source of information and expats can deal directly with the landlord in such cases.

Signing a lease

Once expats have found a suitable property they will have to sign the lease in order to secure it. Lease agreements in the UK are generally signed for six months or a year, with the option to extend.

Usually with one-year leases a six month break clause can be negotiated. This allows the tenant to terminate the contract early by giving the landlord either one or two months’ notice. However, if this negotiable clause is included, expats should note that it also allows landlords to also terminate the lease early. Considering that rental prices continually fluctuate in the UK, this effectively allows the landlord to end a lease in order to find a new tenant who is willing to pay more rent.  

Most landlords in the UK will expect tenants to provide a security deposit which amounts to at least one month’s rental price. In some cases references and letters from an employer or payslips will be required to secure a property.

Formal inventory checks should be carried out before the tenant moves into the property. The initial check is usually financed by the landlord and the one at the end of the tenancy agreement is paid for by the tenant. This service is essential in that it provides certainly to both parties about the condition of the property and determines how much of the deposit is returned when the tenant vacates the place.


When expats are signing a rental contract. They should be sure to know what additional costs they may be liable for. These are some of the costs that are not included rental prices and do have the potential to significantly increase an expat’s monthly expenses quite significantly so they need to be taken into account:  

  • Council tax

  • Gas/electricity

  • TV licence

  • Water

  • Phone line rental

  • Broadband

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