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The lowdown on renting in the capital

Posted on 2016-06-13

Many of London's younger inhabitants are now part of the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The most recent English Housing Survey showed that in 2014-2015, 27% of London households were private rentals, compared to 18% outside of the capital.

What's more, the study found that there has been a significant increase in the proportion of younger households in the PRS.

Over the last ten years the proportion of households aged between 25 and 34 privately renting almost doubled from 24% in 2004-2005 to 46% in 2014-2015.

The renting phenomenon has also ushered in a period of increased house-sharing between multiple tenants as renters look to live with friends and keep costs down by living together.

Our data shows that in the UK the number of new tenancies signed by two tenants jumped from 28% to 52% between 2008 and 2015.

What's more, the number of new tenancies signed by three or more tenants increased from 5% to 15% during the same period.

In the last few years there's been a lot of coverage about 'Generation Rent' and young Londoners renting because they can't afford to buy a home.

While those living in the capital wait for their turn to take a step on the housing ladder, renting from private landlords has become the go-to living choice.

So what's it really like to rent in London and where are some of the city's up and coming rental locations?

We've taken a closer look…

Rental hotspots – why are these areas becoming so popular with tenants?


It might be most famous for being the home of football, but Wembley has more to it than its world-renowned stadium and its equally impressive arena. The area has experienced plenty of regeneration in recent years, with money pumped into housing projects and other redevelopments.

London Designer Outlet, a shiny new shopping centre with chain stores, restaurants, bars and a multi-screen cinema, has also helped to reinvigorate a place that was previously shabby and run-down.

Property types: Mostly terraced homes, new builds, modern apartment blocks and inter-war semi-detached houses. Plenty of studio flats, 1 bedroom apartments and 2 or 3 bed maisonettes.

Transport: Tube – Wembley Park Station (Jubilee and Metropolitan lines), North Wembley Station (Bakerloo Line), Wembley Central Station (Bakerloo Line); National Rail – Wembley Stadium Station (Chiltern Railways), Wembley Central Station (Southern, London Midland and Watford DC Line)

Rental Prices: The average asking rent in Wembley currently stands at £1,474 pcm (Zoopla), with a 1 bed house or flat at just over the £1,000 mark. While this is by no means cheap, it highlights the ever-growing popularity of Wembley among young professionals and city workers.

Pubs and restaurants: The Torch, JJ Moons, The Wembley Tavern, Blue Check Café, Masti, Coast to Coast, Blue Check, Cabana, Arena Greek Restaurant, Thyme

Going out: Wembley isn’t exactly overwhelmed with clubs and bars, but for those looking to party the night away into the small hours there is a number of options, including: Club Z, Crystal Club, Club 2000 Lounge, The Liquor Station and the Royal Lounge.

Shepherd’s Bush

A popular area in west London, Shepherd’s Bush is now best known for being home to one of the capital’s two Westfield shopping centres (the other one is in Stratford). It’s also home to Loftus Road football stadium, where Championship side Queens Park Rangers ply their trade.

It’s a busy, diverse, commercially focused area, with an array of shopping opportunities, office buildings, leisure facilities and green space.

Property types: An increasingly popular choice for tenants – in particular students and young professionals – the Shepherd’s Bush rental market consists of a number of studio, 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom flats, mostly located in Victorian semis and Edwardian terraces.

Transport: Tube – Shepherd’s Bush (Central Line), White City (Central Line), Wood Lane, Goldhawk Road and Shepherd’s Bush Market (all Circle and Hammersmith & City); London Overground and Southern Rail – Shepherd’s Bush railway station (services to Watford Junction, Clapham Junction and East Croydon)

Rental Prices: According to Zoopla, the average monthly rent in Shepherd’s Bush is currently £1,651 pcm. This reflects the popularity of the area, its excellent transport links and its closeness to Central London.

Pubs and restaurants: The Defectors Weld, The Central Bar, BrewDog, Harana, LIZ Café, Chop Chop Noodle Bar, Belushi’s, Shikumen

Going out: The Bush Theatre’s bar is the place to be for culture vultures, while late-night revellers will enjoy BarFM (karaoke, live bands, DJ sets, etc.) and The Sindercombe Social.

Bethnal Green

Despite being an area that has experienced substantial regeneration and gentrification in the last decade, Bethnal Green has still retained much of its rough and ready charm.

Its diversity and character are part of the reason why it’s such a popular place to live, with trendy art galleries and bars mixing seamlessly with traditional old boozers and family-run cafés.

Columbia Road Flower Market, the V&A Museum of Childhood and Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club are the stand-out landmarks, while opportunities for bargains abound in the shops and stores surrounding Globe Road, Roman Road and Bethnal Green Road.

Property types: Popular among young professionals and families, Bethnal Green is one of the more affordable locations in East London. Its housing stock is mostly made up of swanky new-build apartments, flats, terraces and semi-detached properties. Like much of the East End, housing in Bethnal Green has a very Victorian-era flavour.

Transport: Tube – Bethnal Green (Central Line); London Overground – Bethnal Green (services to Liverpool Street, Enfield, Cheshunt and Chingford); Buses – frequent services across London

Rental Prices: The average rent in Bethnal Green currently sits at £1,915 pcm. Bargains are available for savvy renters and those willing to house-share with strangers.

Pubs and restaurants: E Pellicci, The Approach Tavern, Lahore Express, The Star of Bethnal Green, Maida, Noodle King, La Forchetta, The Misty Moon, Typing Room

Going out: This part of East London has an eclectic mix of bars and clubs, ranging from The Verge Bar (classic cocktails, glass frontage, relaxed décor and ambience) to the Backyard Comedy Club and the famous Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (live music, burlesque, alternative events, club-nights and DJ sets, the works). You won’t be without entertainment here, that’s for sure.

Meet the tenants – what's it like to rent in London?

Name: Sophie Millett
Age: 25
Occupation: Risk Advisor
Location: Vauxhall
Renting arrangement: Flat-share

How long have you been renting in London? Three and a half years.

What do you enjoy about renting in London? Renting enables me to be in the centre of London (I certainly couldn’t afford to buy central), I can hop on my bike and be in work within half an hour. Renting is commitment free so if I wanted to serve notice and go travelling for a year I could without having to worry about a mortgage.

What is the most important feature of your rental home and why? Living centrally and having good transport links – I didn’t want a long commute. Living space is important; many of the flats I looked at had made the living room into a bedroom which wouldn’t have worked for me.

How did you go about finding a suitable rental property? A friend and I picked places to live within a half an hour of our respective workplaces and within a certain price range and then searched until we found the right fit.

If you could change one thing about the rental process what would it be? The worst thing is the cost! But in terms of process I would say having a clear idea about accountability – who is responsible for what maintenance?

Do you have any tips for other London renters? Make sure you know when the break clause is in your contract. If you have a bad experience you need to be aware of when you can get out.

Name: Jack Richards
Age: 24
Occupation: Delegate Recruitment Manager, The HR & ITDF Forums’
Location: Streatham
Renting arrangement: House-share

How long have you been renting in London? 14 months
What do you enjoy about renting in London? Living with friends and being close to amenities.
What is the most important feature of your rental home and why? Being close to good transport links is essential for me as I like to get out and about. The price of the rental agreement was also key as it's important to have some money leftover for going out and socialising.
If you could change one thing about the rental process what would it be? Other than the price, nothing. Renting suits my lifestyle and I enjoy living in South West London.
Do you have any tips for other London renters? Try to live in a place with a living room, and if you're going into a flat or house-share, find people who don’t just sit in their bedrooms the whole time.

Name: Nickée de Goeij
Age: 24
Occupation: Communications
Location: Vauxhall
Renting arrangement: Flat-share

How long have you been renting in London? For over two years now.

Do you have a good relationship with your landlord? Yes, although he’s very difficult to contact.

What do you enjoy about renting in London? The location – being so close to the city centre. As well as my flatmates, creates a home away from home (I’m from the Netherlands).

What is the most important feature of your rental home and why? Internet access so I can always contact my family back home. Also a living room – I hate flat-shares that take the living room out, I need it to feel like a home.

If you could change one thing about the rental process what would it be? It would be great to have a bit more decision time, but with London being so popular, if someone offers you a room you have to take it instantly or someone will take your place.

Do you have any tips for other London renters? Do your research with regards to the different areas, and don’t let people discourage you when they say specific areas are way too expensive. There’s always hidden gems to be found, you just need to keep looking. Oh, and being at ease with your flatmates is super important – you don’t want to be locked in your room every night.

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