Looking for tips on searching accommodation in the private sector

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norsul
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Hey guys! My situtation is this: I'll be beginning my UCL studies in January this academic (I won't go into detail of my situation, since that is not very relevant) and will be needing accommodation in London for the 2nd and 3rd term of university (January 2015 - July 2015), and UCL will probably not be able to provide me with accommodation from its own houses (again, my situation is rather unique and not very relevant to the discussion). Since the privately owned student accommodations mostly only offer stays for the full academic year, I will be limited to renting a room in a privately owned flat/house.

Since I've never rented anything before (and my parents are of little help here - they got their student accommodation for free), I would like to ask for some tips from the more experienced people to make my life easier. Anything you think someone trying to find a place to live in London should know is good information for me, but if you want here are some topics that interest me most:

- I am an international student, so I will not really have the opportunity to visit the place before making the decision, so I am first of all interested in not getting ripped off, what is your advice in this case? How should I minimise the risk?

- Any websites that you would recommend for finding rooms? I only really know of spareroom.co.uk, but surely there's more?

- Any legal issues I should be aware of regarding contracts and stuff?


One more thing, I know that I got to doing this kind of late, and that I should've asked this like a year ago, but that's not the issue being discussed and besides better late than never.


Thank you in advance for the help!
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klika89
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1. You are not doing it late - most of the private rooms go very quickly (within a month of posting online if not quicker) so the market changes a lot.
2. Spareroom is a good site so keep an eye on it. Besides you may try to look for UCL housing Facebook page
3. It may be quite difficult to rent something when you are not here as people usually want to meet before you move in
4. You should be able to get a nice size room for £500 a month (usually zone 2-3)
5. Be prepared to pay a deposit and a first month rent before you move in. The deposit is usually 6 weeks rent
6. If you look through the agency they will ask for a guarantor (usually UK based)

(Original post by norsul)
Hey guys! My situtation is this: I'll be beginning my UCL studies in January this academic (I won't go into detail of my situation, since that is not very relevant) and will be needing accommodation in London for the 2nd and 3rd term of university (January 2015 - July 2015), and UCL will probably not be able to provide me with accommodation from its own houses (again, my situation is rather unique and not very relevant to the discussion). Since the privately owned student accommodations mostly only offer stays for the full academic year, I will be limited to renting a room in a privately owned flat/house.

Since I've never rented anything before (and my parents are of little help here - they got their student accommodation for free), I would like to ask for some tips from the more experienced people to make my life easier. Anything you think someone trying to find a place to live in London should know is good information for me, but if you want here are some topics that interest me most:

- I am an international student, so I will not really have the opportunity to visit the place before making the decision, so I am first of all interested in not getting ripped off, what is your advice in this case? How should I minimise the risk?

- Any websites that you would recommend for finding rooms? I only really know of spareroom.co.uk, but surely there's more?

- Any legal issues I should be aware of regarding contracts and stuff?


One more thing, I know that I got to doing this kind of late, and that I should've asked this like a year ago, but that's not the issue being discussed and besides better late than never.


Thank you in advance for the help!
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Anglii
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Reiterating the "you're not searching too late" sentiment. The earlier the better for the reasons klika89 said above, but do be aware that if you *do* manage to find somewhere early that hasn't disappeared, landlords may not be willing to wait until whenever it is you'd want to move in. Some negotiation might be needed if that happens.

For sites besides Spareroom, you could try Gumtree or Rightmove as well. There's also a site called IntoLondon but I've not used it - I just saw the name in an automated email from spareroom. If you have a UCL email address, it'd be worth signing up to the University of London Housing website, although I find the design of it a nightmare.

Minimising risk without being able to view it yourself is a problem... do you have any friends or family in London? If not, would you be able to get in touch with anyone on your course prior to you coming to London? It might even be worth asking whoever deals with admissions in the department you'll be studying at if they'd be able to look or could suggest anyone/anything else. It might also be an idea to ring the UoL Housing people to see what they can suggest.

I can't think of any legal issues to be aware of off the top of my head. Just be sure to read the contract over thoroughly when you get one and always remember that you don't *have* to sign it if you're unhappy with it and the landlord isn't open to negotiation.
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