Legal process of renting a flat by international students in London

Legal process of renting a flat by international students in London

Finding a flat or a room to rent live in London might not be such as easy task on the to-do list of international students in the UK. Here are some tips to help you better understand the legal process of renting property.

License or Tenancy Agreements

A rental agreement can be classified as a “license to occupy” or a “tenancy agreement”.

With a license, the landlord can enter the premises you are renting (room, flat etc.) whenever they like, but with a tenancy there are restrictions on their access.

The place which you will rent will most likely fall under the definition of a “tenancy”, However, it might be a licensed premises if, for example, you are renting informally from friends or if you are in serviced accommodation.


You should have a written agreement with your landlord confirming the amount of the deposit; when it will be returned; and in what circumstances money will be deducted.

If you have a tenancy, it will normally be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This means that the landlord has to pay the deposit into a government approval protection scheme. The scheme will decide any disputes between you and the landlord about the deposit.

Rent increases

Your landlord might want to increase the rent after you move in. Your rental agreement might state if they can do this. If it doesn’t, the rules on the rent increases depend whether you have a tenancy or a license to occupy.

If you have a license to occupy, the landlord can increase the rent whenever they want. This is also true if you have a tenancy and your landlord lives with you.

If you have a tenancy for a fixed period (eg. one year), the landlord cannot increase the rent during this time. If your tenancy doesn’t have a fixed period (ie. it just runs from month to month on a renewal basis) the landlord can increase the rent after the first year. You have the right to challenge the increase before a government Rent Assessment Committee.

Leaving the property

If you have a licence, you or the landlord can terminate it at any time by giving an agreed notice period or, if you didn’t previously discuss it, a “reasonable” notice period.

If you have a tenancy that runs for a fixed term, the landlord and yourself can only terminate  the agreement before the end of the term in exceptional circumstances (eg. the property has serious defects making it not suitable for living).

If the tenancy does not have a fixed term, the landlord or yourself can end the tenancy by giving notice. The minimum notice period is either the agreed notice period or the interval at which you pay rent. However, unless you have a live-in landlord, the notice period has to be at least a month.

Most international students in London are able to rent a flat or room without having any major legal complications. The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide some assistance on legal issues relating to accommodation, although it is advisable to contact a solicitor if you have serious concerns.

To learn more about the legal aspects of renting a property in the UK, visit the Contact Law site.