There are various ways to find suitable accommodation. In most cases, you can use the services of an estate agent (see below). Our Student Housing pages only provide accommodation information for students, but you can still find plenty of useful information there that can help you find the right accommodation.
Generally, properties will be advertised by an estate agent. This is a registered person or company that arranges the selling, renting or management of properties. Estate agents act on behalf of, and are paid by, the seller or the landlord.
Agents who specialise in renting are sometimes called 'letting agents'. They deal with administration, rent, contracts and property repairs. You might never meet the person who owns your property. This is standard in the UK.
The most popular search engines for property searches are:
If you rent accommodation, you'll enter into a contract with a landlord (usually through an estate agent – see 'Finding a property' section above), known as a tenancy agreement. This agreement sets out the basic terms of the rental, such as the amount of rent, the length of the tenancy and other mutual rights and responsibilities between you and your landlord.
Depending on the arrangement, you may also be liable for utility bills, such as gas, electricity, water, telephone and internet bills and council tax.
In the UK, a tenancy is usually agreed for a fixed period of time, with the opportunity to renew your agreement after this period expires. Your rental will normally be an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ for a fixed term, typically lasting 6 or 12 months.
You can rent directly from a landlord, which may be cheaper but offers less protection if something goes wrong.
Familiarise yourself with tenants’ rights in the UK, as these may be significantly different from those in your home country. You will be asked to agree to a tenancy agreement before you move into the property. This document will explain what is expected of you as a tenant and what you can expect from your landlord. Don't sign the tenancy agreement if you don't fully agree with its terms or if you don't fully understand it.
If you're in doubt, you can get advice in person from the Citizens Advice Bureau, which has branches throughout the UK.
A landlord may also ask you to sign an inventory, which is a list of all the items found in the property (furniture, kitchen items, and so on).
Check that it's correct and that any existing damage to these items is included in the document before you sign it. Make sure you get a copy of the document too.
If your landlord doesn't provide an inventory it's best to make one yourself and send a copy to the landlord. It is also a good idea to take photographs of any existing damage as evidence that damage was already present when you moved in. This can prevent later disputes about the contents and condition of the property.
Rent is almost always paid in advance in the UK. Payment of a deposit, in advance, is also standard practice, but always ensure you get a receipt. You may also have to pay agents or letting fees.
Your landlord is under a legal requirement to put your deposit into a Government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes. This ensures that your deposit is protected if your landlord refuses to refund it without a good reason or makes unreasonable deductions. Every scheme provides a free dispute resolution service.
Rent will vary depending on the size and location of the property. Other things like whether the property has a garden, parking or is near to public transport will also affect the rent. The following website will provide a guide for current rental prices
Buying a property in the UK is quite a complicated process and is not quick. Once you have found a property and had an offer accepted the average sale takes around 3 months to complete, although it can take longer if there are complications. Most property purchases will require the buyer to arrange a mortgage to fund the purchase, these are arranged through banks or building societies. A mortgage can be difficult to secure if you have not lived in the UK for 2 years. You will also need to have a deposit of at least 5% of the purchase price. The UK Government website explains the process.
The type of insurance you should buy depends partly on whether you rent or you own your home. There are three main home insurance policies:
Buildings insurance protects the structure, the fixtures, and fittings in your home, whilst content insurance covers your belongings.
Homeowners usually need both buildings and contents insurance, while those who rent typically only need contents insurance. It can be a condition of the lease or mortgage, that you have both building and/or house contents insurance.
In the UK there is a wide variety of insurance providers, with widely varying policies, cover options, and costs. Advice and comparison websites, such as Moneysavingexpert and Comparethemarket can help you find the best deal and cover to suit your needs.
Where you choose to live will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances. You may want to take into consideration the following:
Your colleagues may also be able to give you useful information about Essex and the surrounding area, and other matters such as schools, childcare, cost of living, public transport, commuting times, shops and other facilities.
For guidance on shipping your belongings to the UK please see the government website.
The University also provides a financial relocation assistance for some roles. Details are available on the staff directory.