5 easy steps to find a place to rent in London

November 28, 2023

Kristabel Plummer, lifestyle blogger and keen renter, sets off on a mission to find out how easy it can be to find a rental apartment in London.

Is build to rent a better way to rent?

As someone who’s been renting for nine years, I definitely have some stories about the process. There was the girl I met on Spareroom who flipped a coin to decide between housemates and another who rushed me around a viewing because I’d arrived late.

I’ve rented via a private landlord and a housing association in London and each experience was very different. Finding my latest property was probably the most stressful situation as I had to scramble to find somewhere just before the first lockdown.

If I wanted to switch things up, how does Build To Rent (BTR) compare? I visited Get Living’s East Village neighbourhood in East London to find out.

Is it possible to rent in London without getting stressed out?

So how does Build To Rent differ from traditional renting? Essentially, these are new, purpose-built homes developed with renters in mind from the outset with dedicated teams on-site. This means operators like Get Living can provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ from initial viewing to move-in and ongoing maintenance.

Get Living promotes flexibility and security which is why they offer three-year tenancies as standard (with a six-month break clause) and only residents can break the contract. Choosing to rent with Get Living comes with a lot of other benefits, but let’s start with the basics and how easy it is to secure a property.

5 steps of finding a place to rent in London with Get Living:

1. Choosing the right location for you

First, I would need to decide where I would want to live and make an initial enquiry online. Get Living has neighbourhoods in Stratford and Elephant and Castle and each one has good transport links. I end up choosing Stratford because of its proximity to Westfield and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There’s a few apartments available that I can see online, and while the virtual walkthroughs are great, there’s nothing like seeing a home in person. So, I pick a couple of properties to view – it’s so refreshing to have multiple options in one place!

2. Viewing your property

Now it’s time for the viewings. Rikki, my dedicated agent, meets me at the East Village welcome office and I’m offered a cup of coffee. Based on my criteria, he’s selected a couple of 1 bed apartments to show me so that I can get an idea of the size and help me narrow down my search. On the way he points out some local eateries and coffee shops, we walk through the park and talk about the local events and activities that are organised for the community. Inside, the flats are finished to a high standard, way better than some private rentals that I’ve seen. I’d be allowed to decorate and pets are even allowed. Wi-Fi is also included, so there’s no need to wait for it to be installed once you’ve moved.

Top tip: some key questions to ask on your viewing

  • If Wi-Fi is included, what’s the speed, and can you upgrade?
  • What furniture options there are?
  • Can I decorate?
  • What appliances are included?
  • How are bills managed?
  • What’s the energy rating on the home and typical usage?
  • What council tax band are you in?


3. Securing the home

It’s time to make a decision. I tell the relationship manager that I’d like to be in Portlands Place. It’s my favourite out of the two options and I can really see myself coworking on the Skybridge. I love that it feels like a community with regular events and there’s even Eggslut nearby for brunch. We go through the terms and conditions and it’s starting to feel real. To reserve the home and take it off the market, I need to pay an advanced rental payment. This is few hundred pounds and varies depending on location and size of property – this will be deducted from my first month’s rent, after I move in.


4. Referencing checks

Next it’s referencing and affordability checks through Canopy, a third-party portal trusted by Get Living and many other landlords and agents as it can complete all the necessary checks in a matter of minutes. All I have to do is give my name, address and employment details. The platform uses open banking to verify my income and affordability. I also learn that if I choose to use Canopy’s rent tracking feature, I can boost my credit score for the future.


5. Getting ready for move in

Everything is confirmed! I can move in as little as 10 days, which is so handy to know if you’re trying to find somewhere quickly. The apartment will be spruced up ahead of my arrival and we agree a date for me to pick up the keys.  I can book a loading bay and the team says they’ll make a padded trolley available for me to help unpack my items.

When looking for a place to rent, compared to the ‘traditional’ process, going direct with Build To Rent was stress free and saved so much time.  I loved the personalised service and extra special touches like the coffee on arrival.  There’s a consistency to the properties and handy amenities like TULU smart rental units so that I’ll have everything I need when I move in.


Fancy living in one of Get Living’s London neighbourhoods?  Take a look at available properties in East Village and Elephant Central.

Kristabel Plummer

Kristabel Plummer is an award-winning blogger and freelance journalist covering London living, finances, food and fashion.

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