Finding private landlords in the UK
August 5, 2010 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Is there a decent website for searching for properties to let from private landlords in the UK, or am I stuck dealing with parasitic letting agencies?

Google has so far thrown up, which seems to specialise in houses available four years ago,, which refuses to acknowledge the existence of anywhere outside of London and, which only has three houses within a fifty mile radius of me. It won't be hard to beat this crowd – any tips?
posted by him to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Loot and Gumtree
posted by k8t at 7:34 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

rightmove is usually pretty good.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:38 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Depending on the kind of place you're looking for, letting agencies may be no more expensive than private rentals. That's certainly my experience. If that's the case, they're parasites on the owners, not the tenant.

And, when things go wrong, you are at least dealing with a professional whose full time job it is to deal with tenants and problems with rented accommodation, rather than some dude who scraped together the money to buy a couple of flats when his kids finished university, but has never really done this thing before. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, but I don't think agencies, in toto, deserve a significantly worse reputation than the owners themselves.
posted by caek at 7:43 AM on August 5, 2010

In Sheffield there's a busy Sheffield-specific forum site where I've successfully found two separate private lets.

You could have a look for some similar local thing.
posted by emilyw at 8:05 AM on August 5, 2010

We struggled to get anything decent from the local lettings agencies when looking for a flat last year, the solution lay with old media, local papers still have a propery section which will have private landlords not aligned to an agency. Find out what day it comes out, get it earlier and start calling.

Previous experience has taught me its worth the slog to look at properties till you get something you like rather than pick the best of the first three but after at least 8 agency places which were crap the second private landlord came up trumps. As a result I'm typing this from my desk with a view over the harbour. Landlord has turned out well, no hassle, gets things fixed quick, but that is luck of the draw.

When you do get somewhere make sure they put your deposit in one of those schemes to protect it so you get it back in one piece.
posted by biffa at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2010

We found our privately let London flat through Gumtree. You can filter by agency/ non-agency listings.
posted by tavegyl at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a landlord – who hated agencies when I rented so won't touch the gits now I'm on the other side of the fence – I've settled on Gumtree having been through various local print & web ads over the years. Might also be worth trying fish4homes.

As biffa says, local press (e.g. Friday Ad group, The Argus – all depends on your location) and if you feel up to it, most towns will have a couple of places (e.g. shops, library) that are known as a good place for rental ads. (I live in Brighton & Infinity foods' window has been used for years & years.)

Finally, if you know people in the area you want to be, spread the word. Tenants can ask their landlord if they have any other places or know of anyone, friends might know someone with a place etc. Sounds obvious but I've had some of the best rentals (renter & landlord) this way.

Tip: If you see a line in an ad saying 'No agencies', 'Strictly No Agencies' or 'If you're an agent do not under any circumstances contact me although I don't know why I'm writing this because you will still fucking ignore me and make contact you thieving leech' that'll be a private landlord.
posted by i_cola at 9:53 AM on August 5, 2010

Thanks everyone – very helpful.
posted by him at 1:27 PM on August 5, 2010

I use right move exclusively, but pretty much the only way I've found private landlords is through listings on our work intranet noticeboard, and on gumtree. I think there is also a roommates website (can't remember the name) which occasionally has apartments on it.
posted by nunoidia at 11:21 PM on August 5, 2010

The roomates website is Spareroom. It does also have flats.
posted by Laura_J at 6:34 AM on August 8, 2010

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