How to find a decently-priced studio flat in London?
March 4, 2007 3:19 PM   Subscribe

How to find a decently-priced studio flat in London? I have looked everywhere you can imagine: Gumtree, Findaproperty, etc etc etc and am getting super frustrated with hours of unsuccessful virtual househunting...

As I was ready to surrender to these so-called 'introduction services' (Flatland, Flatfinder, Spacelet and the like) I came across a load of really bad reviews of these services (they just don't have the properties they claim they have) and found out it is actually illegal to charge for viewings.

Still, these agents seem to dominate the web - 9 out of 10 studio flats advertised on the web are apparently managed by them. It is frustrating - people lured into paying £70/80 for these services are inadvertently feeding this big scam!

In the meantime, I need to move by the end of the month and can't seem to find anything in west london (around hammersmith, shepherd's bush, etc) that is not super expensive and managed by a reputable agent. Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by heartofglass to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah, stop doing that. The interpipes don't work for lettings in London.

Go visit the area and walk into estate agents who have for rent cards in the window. Expect to pay preposterous rent and be asked for considerably more documentation than you'd need if you were taking out a £300k mortgage.

Tip: Go to Willesden Green instead (not ""Willesden"" Junction) and walk into those local estate agents. Anything down to the bus garage will suit - it's the cheapest place in town with a tube station (two, in fact), and the 260 and 266 buses go to Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush. Hammersmith's a shithole - visit by all means but FFS don't live there.
posted by genghis at 4:45 PM on March 4, 2007


It's London. Reasonably-priced property doesn't happen there, unfortunately. Having said that, getting away from, or to the edge of, the tube network can help a bit. (Going out as far as Walthamstow got me a cheap 2-bed a few years back). After that, as genghis said, find a high street with a bunch of letting agents and work your way along.
posted by Leon at 6:03 PM on March 4, 2007


Loot is the main way to find property in London. They have a physical paper, and the website used to have premium access that let you get to the ads in advance and was well worth it (I haven't househunted in a while though).
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:43 PM on March 4, 2007


Thanks for your answers so far!

***
Even in the Loot, flatland and etc is all you get these days...
posted by heartofglass at 11:01 PM on March 4, 2007


Well, London (especially West London) is very expensive: you might have to relax your criteria a bit.

Houseshares and flatshares are a lot cheaper than one-room flats: it's worth looking at those. I've lived in quite a few and normal people tend to massively outnumber the nutters. Especially in the more expensive houseshares (which you'll be looking at) it tends to be young, single-ish working people; not students who party loudly all night or dodgy illegals.

I think places like Acton, Willesden and Harlesden are likely to be a bit cheaper: you might want to expand your area a little.

Try looking at the Tube and train stations where you work/study, then follow the lines out until you find an area you can afford.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:05 AM on March 5, 2007


the two years i've been renting privately, i found that the only way to get a decent flat (or any flat) was to ring some agents, go stay in the area for a few days and get appointments/viewings in person. the many, many interweb sites i started off looking at were out of date/lies, even the supposedly reputable agents. they prefer you to go in person so they know you're serious. even then it can be a horrific experience (tho i've always been looking with the rest of the students so its an absolute scrum...)

good luck finding something affordable in west london...have you thought about other areas which are on the right tube line?
posted by cardamine at 3:44 AM on March 5, 2007


Bear in mind that the word "studio" is the kiss of death for flat-hunting. It signals (rightly or wrongly) to agents that you're the sort of person willing to pay over the odds to secure a particular lifestyle; and you'll find that even reputable agents have a definition of "studio" that is probably a bit more loose than your own (encompassing such things as "bedsit" and "this flat has fewer internal walls than one seems structurally sound"). And as you've found, its one of the key words that unscrupulous agencies love to use in their teaser listings for phantom properties - the too-good-to-be-true deals that get you to call up, so they can offer you worse properties at higher prices.

And yes, look to the West and the North of Shepherd's Bush for the more affordable places.
posted by flashboy at 4:36 AM on March 5, 2007


Yeah, I'd be looking for 'compact one bedroom flats', rather than studios.

And seriously consider a flatshare. clickflatshare.co.uk is a pretty good way to find them, as it's non-profit.

It's also a bit risky, but consider going with independent landlords rather than letting agents - they're worth their weight in gold if you can find a decent one, whereas letting agents are universally a pack of lying, unscrupulous, slapdash, useless idiots who do nothing but hand you the keys at the start of the contract and rip you off at the end of it, while collecting their 10% for doing absolutely nothing.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:02 AM on March 5, 2007


Do you have a good reason for looking in Shepherd's Bush? If you need somewhere convenient for Town, why not try much further out? Personal example: Harrow and Wealdstone is in zone 5, yet it's 13 minutes from Euston. There are many others.
posted by mr. strange at 8:52 AM on March 5, 2007


It's also a bit risky, but consider going with independent landlords rather than letting agents - they're worth their weight in gold if you can find a decent one, whereas letting agents are universally a pack of lying, unscrupulous, slapdash, useless idiots who do nothing but hand you the keys at the start of the contract and rip you off at the end of it, while collecting their 10% for doing absolutely nothing.

That doesn't concord with my experience. My current letting agent is golden. I can get them on the phone easily, they do everything by the book, any problems are tended to quickly by their contracted tradesmen. Conversely, friends who rent directly through landlords have had trouble getting hold of them, landlords trying to do repairs themselves incompetently, and playing fast-and-loose with the law (withholding bonds, entering the house without warning etc.)

Back on topic: spend a day going from estate agent to estate agent. That'll work a lot better than crusing ads.
posted by outlier at 9:07 AM on March 5, 2007


Happy Dave, I see your point - larger letting agents,with hundreds of properties under management such as Foxtons, Winkworth and the like tend to lose control of things. I have heard terrible stories from people who have used them, both on the rent and sell sides.

However, just like outlier, I have had a really good experience with a smaller agent; they were really helpful, 'by the book' type. Similarly, I have had terrible and fantastic landlords. I guess it depends of how much they've got on their plate, honesty, goodwill, luck...*sigh*

The reason why I wanted to stay in the west is because I want to be able to cycle to work and get there (Piccadilly Circus) in about 20-30 min and because my friends and boyfriend live there....aaaarrgrgghhhh....
posted by heartofglass at 1:46 PM on March 5, 2007


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