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Discussion Starter #1
I'm an American and my husband and I are seriously considering moving to Cambridge, England. I don't know much about how the leases work in England for flats. I know a lot of places in London are priced per week, but in Cambridge they seem to be per month (what does pcm mean anyway)?

Anyway, I'm wondering about the leasing process. Do you sign a lease for a flat a month or two ahead of time, like you do here in America? How far ahead of time do they know when a specific apartment will be available? How long are the leases for? Generally a year? Are there a lot of places that have shorter leases - say 6 months, or are those places the crappier rentals (like they tend to be here in the US).

What fees are involved? Is it just a security deposit? Does the monthly rent usually cover anything else (like heat, garbage, water, etc) or is that all extra? How much extra should we budget for those things? Are there additional rental taxes or hidden fees?

We have two cats. Will most apartments let us bring the cats in? I have been looking at flat listings on rightmove. None of those listings seem to mention whether pets are allowed and how much extra it would cost for pets. Does anyone know?

Sorry for all the questions. If anyone has any good resources to direct me to about how this whole process works in the UK I'd appreciate it.

Thanks!
 

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I'm an American and my husband and I are seriously considering moving to Cambridge, England. I don't know much about how the leases work in England for flats. I know a lot of places in London are priced per week, but in Cambridge they seem to be per month (what does pcm mean anyway)?

Anyway, I'm wondering about the leasing process. Do you sign a lease for a flat a month or two ahead of time, like you do here in America? How far ahead of time do they know when a specific apartment will be available? How long are the leases for? Generally a year? Are there a lot of places that have shorter leases - say 6 months, or are those places the crappier rentals (like they tend to be here in the US).

What fees are involved? Is it just a security deposit? Does the monthly rent usually cover anything else (like heat, garbage, water, etc) or is that all extra? How much extra should we budget for those things? Are there additional rental taxes or hidden fees?

We have two cats. Will most apartments let us bring the cats in? I have been looking at flat listings on rightmove. None of those listings seem to mention whether pets are allowed and how much extra it would cost for pets. Does anyone know?

Sorry for all the questions. If anyone has any good resources to direct me to about how this whole process works in the UK I'd appreciate it.
PCM means per calendar month.

We don't call it a lease here, but rental contract or agreement. The ad should state, or you can inquire, when the particular flat is available (there may be an existing tenant on notice to quit, or landlord may wish to refurbish or redecorate). Most rental contracts are for 6 months, sometimes a year but rarely longer. So your and landlord's commitment is for initial period, which can usually be extended (in which case on a month's notice), either by default (automatically) or you have to sign another agreement. Rent may increase on extending or renewing.

You pay a fee for the letting agent to conduct credit checks on you and take you onto their books. This can be around £100 or more in the South. You may face difficulties here as you don't have a credit record in UK (US record doesn't count). So you may have to pay up to 6 months' rent in advance. Deposit or bond is normally taken, usually equivalent to a month's rent. You pay your rent usually monthly in advance, by bank transfer. Most rents are exclusive of other charges and tax, though sometimes certain items are included, but usually for student let or for a single person (studio let). These charges vary of course from property to property, and among individuals. Council tax (including refuse collection) may be around £1200 to £1500 a year (most pay in 10 monthly instalments). Budget around £100 a month for utilities, £50 for landline phone and broadband, £50 to £80 for cable or satellite TV, £200-£300 a year for contents insurance (property itself is covered by landlord). Plus travel (commuting). Food is difficult, but expect to spend around £100 to £200 a week, the latter if you like eating out. I should add Cambridge is an expensive place to live, esp for rent and general cost of living, though you can save on food bills by going to budget supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi and seek out special deals in other supermarkets.

Most flats don't allow pets. Some may do so for cats but there will be conditions and you are expected to make good any damage they cause. Cats like scratching! Not having pets will make flat hunting a lot easier. Remember there are considerable costs involved in taking pets to UK under PET passport scheme, including air carriage.

See How To Rent A House | Finding Suitable Property To Rent | Primelocation
 

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Discussion Starter #3
PCM means per calendar month.

We don't call it a lease here, but rental contract or agreement. The ad should state, or you can inquire, when the particular flat is available (there may be an existing tenant on notice to quit, or landlord may wish to refurbish or redecorate). Most rental contracts are for 6 months, sometimes a year but rarely longer. So your and landlord's commitment is for initial period, which can usually be extended (in which case on a month's notice), either by default (automatically) or you have to sign another agreement. Rent may increase on extending or renewing.

You pay a fee for the letting agent to conduct credit checks on you and take you onto their books. This can be around £100 or more in the South. You may face difficulties here as you don't have a credit record in UK (US record doesn't count). So you may have to pay up to 6 months' rent in advance. Deposit or bond is normally taken, usually equivalent to a month's rent. You pay your rent usually monthly in advance, by bank transfer. Most rents are exclusive of other charges and tax, though sometimes certain items are included, but usually for student let or for a single person (studio let). These charges vary of course from property to property, and among individuals. Council tax (including refuse collection) may be around £1200 to £1500 a year (most pay in 10 monthly instalments). Budget around £100 a month for utilities, £50 for landline phone and broadband, £50 to £80 for cable or satellite TV, £200-£300 a year for contents insurance (property itself is covered by landlord). Plus travel (commuting). Food is difficult, but expect to spend around £100 to £200 a week, the latter if you like eating out. I should add Cambridge is an expensive place to live, esp for rent and general cost of living, though you can save on food bills by going to budget supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi and seek out special deals in other supermarkets.

Most flats don't allow pets. Some may do so for cats but there will be conditions and you are expected to make good any damage they cause. Cats like scratching! Not having pets will make flat hunting a lot easier. Remember there are considerable costs involved in taking pets to UK under PET passport scheme, including air carriage.

See How To Rent A House | Finding Suitable Property To Rent | Primelocation
Thank you for your reply. You provided a lot of helpful info.

For the flats that do allow cats, will there be an extra pet rental charge? In the states they often charge $50 to $100 extra rent per month if you have a pet. This covers any damage the pet will do. Do you know if these types of charges exist in the UK?
 

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Thank you for your reply. You provided a lot of helpful info.

For the flats that do allow cats, will there be an extra pet rental charge? In the states they often charge $50 to $100 extra rent per month if you have a pet. This covers any damage the pet will do. Do you know if these types of charges exist in the UK?
Most properties don't allow pets, so such charges are unusual. If you do find a flat that allows pets, you are likely to find that instead of extra charge, you will be obliged to repair any damage or extra soiling caused by losing part or all of your deposit, and if it isn't enough, they will bill you extra.

If you fail credit check because you have nothing on UK file, the letting agent is likely to demand a guarantor, who will be responsibile for any unpaid rent. He or she has to be a UK resident, property owner and usually in full-time employment. They too will be credit checked. As I said, the alternative is advance payment of all the rents during the initial contract period.
 

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Your expenses will include:

Water (will vary whether it is a fixed charge or metered)
Gas (can't comment as ours is included in a block service charge)
Electric £65/month (we have a washer/dryer in constant use)
Phone and Internet £45/month
Mobile phone or phones £75/month for 2 people average use
Cable £45/month
Council Tax will vary see below
TV Licence £12/month
Contents Insurance (should you want it and will vary according to the value of your contents)

Here is a link to the Cambridge Council Tax bands. Council tax covers city services like garbage pick up. It varies according to the size and value of the flat (set in, I think 1992).

Cambridge Council Tax bands:

About Council Tax

In London where I live, a 6 month lease would be considered a short term let and would include everything (it would be furnished including linens, dishes etc..) except phone and internet and so obviously more expensive. A one year lease, which could be furnished or unfurnished is the norm and the tenant is responsible for all utitlies, coucil tax etc.

Watch out for a check in/check out fee on a rental contract. This means that an independent company is appointed to check the condition of the flat and its contents at the beginning and the end of the rental. Could be £100-200 and the tenant is usually responsible for the fee.

With the economy the way it is, fewer people have the means to buy so rentals get snapped up very quickly. It's unlikely that you would be able to secure a flat more than 1 month in advance of moving in.
 

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I don't understand why some people come up with ridiculous estimates on costs for various things. It probably puts a lot of people off.

I guess a lot of people here must not plan meals or they buy more than they need and end up throwing food out when it goes bad, like a lot of British people do these days. I plan my meals carefully and only buy the ingredients things I need to make those meals and I spend an average of £78.55 a month (I worked it out for a budget to include with my sponsor letter). Yes, I eat my five a day and have decent sized meals. Also, I shop in Tesco and Waitrose (since they're nearest to me), not Lidl or Aldi.

My phone and Internet is £17 a month, which includes unlimited evening and weekend calls (although I don't use those, I just needed the phone line in order to get Internet). I don't have Sky or Cable television because I don't really watch tv that much, and when I do I find that Freeview has more than enough options.

It is possible to live comfortably without wasting so much.
 

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I don't understand why some people come up with ridiculous estimates on costs for various things. It probably puts a lot of people off.

I guess a lot of people here must not plan meals or they buy more than they need and end up throwing food out when it goes bad, like a lot of British people do these days. I plan my meals carefully and only buy the ingredients things I need to make those meals and I spend an average of £78.55 a month (I worked it out for a budget to include with my sponsor letter). Yes, I eat my five a day and have decent sized meals.

My phone and Internet is £17 a month, which includes unlimited evening and weekend calls (although I don't use those, I just needed the phone line in order to get Internet). I don't have Sky or Cable television because I don't really watch tv that much, and when I do I find that Freeview has more than enough options.

It is possible to live comfortably without wasting so much.

It depends on how you want to live, if you're moving to not have to scrimp and be economical or if you have expensive tastes. I guess we're all different, but no one wants to be in a strange country and not have enough to live how they want to!

Jo xxx
 

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It depends on how you want to live, if you're moving to not have to scrimp and be economical or if you have expensive tastes. I guess we're all different, but no one wants to be in a strange country and not have enough to live how they want to!

Jo xxx
Some of your figures seem over the top, regardless of whether you want to scrimp and save.


Electric £65/month - more like half that unless you use electricity for heating

Phone and Internet £45/month - Again, half of that, no problem, including calls and internet

Mobile phone or phones £75/month for 2 people average use - £10 per person per month for 250 minutes/unlimites texts/unlimited mobile internet per person

Cable £45/month - I didn't realise you got so many channels in the UK through an antenna, something like 50 channels and you can record on them like tivo with no monthly charge.
 

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Some of your figures seem over the top, regardless of whether you want to scrimp and save.


Electric £65/month - more like half that unless you use electricity for heating

Phone and Internet £45/month - Again, half of that, no problem, including calls and internet

Mobile phone or phones £75/month for 2 people average use - £10 per person per month for 250 minutes/unlimites texts/unlimited mobile internet per person

Cable £45/month - I didn't realise you got so many channels in the UK through an antenna, something like 50 channels and you can record on them like tivo with no monthly charge.
Not sure they're my figures, altho I dont have a problem with them. My electricity in the UK was about that when I last lived there four years ago and we had gas central heating, which was about £40 a month. our mobile phone bills were infinitely more than £75 each, let alone between two! But of course it depends on a persons lifestyle. Yes people could be more frugal, but some are happy to live as they do and dont have an interest in reducing their costs to that level

Jo xxx
 

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Some of your figures seem over the top, regardless of whether you want to scrimp and save.


Electric £65/month - more like half that unless you use electricity for heating

Phone and Internet £45/month - Again, half of that, no problem, including calls and internet

Mobile phone or phones £75/month for 2 people average use - £10 per person per month for 250 minutes/unlimites texts/unlimited mobile internet per person

Cable £45/month - I didn't realise you got so many channels in the UK through an antenna, something like 50 channels and you can record on them like tivo with no monthly charge.
No 2 monthly expenses are going to be the same, obviously so good for your that your expenses are less, but those are ours.

We do not have electirc heat and yes we pay about £65/month and as I stated I have a washer/dryer which I use A LOT. The dryer function eats up a lot of electricity but it is a small price to pay to avoid having drying racks all over our flat like they are part of the decoration and making it impossible to get around .

Our cable package includes movies and yes I enjoy having a zillion channels.

So, to paraphrase jojo, everybody's lifestyle and budget is going to be different and there is no right or wrong answer as to what monthly outgoings will be.

xposted with jojo
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Cable £45/month - I didn't realise you got so many channels in the UK through an antenna, something like 50 channels and you can record on them like tivo with no monthly charge.

So can you get 50 network channels for free using a rabbit ear antenna? Do the cable companies have smaller packages that would cost less than 45 pounds per month - packages that only give you the basic channels (equivalent to ABC, NBC, CBS, & Fox over here)? That's what I get here for only $15/month through my cable company. Would cable companies in the UK offer that too, or would all those channels come in for free through antenna?

Tell me more about this free tivo thing over there too. How do I get one of those for free?
 

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So can you get 50 network channels for free using a rabbit ear antenna? Do the cable companies have smaller packages that would cost less than 45 pounds per month - packages that only give you the basic channels (equivalent to ABC, NBC, CBS, & Fox over here)? That's what I get here for only $15/month through my cable company. Would cable companies in the UK offer that too, or would all those channels come in for free through antenna?

Tell me more about this free tivo thing over there too. How do I get one of those for free?
Hi, they have something called Freeview

Freeview / Home / Freeview Plus

For this, using rabbit ear or one on roof you get about 50 channels including their versions of CBS/NBC etc, like ITV and BBC etc and a load of spin off channels, all for free - except for the cost of a TV license.

For about £70 (one off fee for box) you can record and have season pass etc, just like tivo.

Except for movies/sports, there's really no need to pay for a TV subscription in the UK unless you want movies/sports or a zillion channels.
 

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pcm means per calendar month. Normally you will have to sign a lease and pay a deposit which is usually one month's rent. You only sign immediately before moving in usually. Leases are most often assured shorthold tenancies for six months and are renewable.

You are unlikely to find a formal lease for less time but there are some landlords that will be less formal. Just ask, you never know. Most times all bills you have to pay on top. I would think the cats will be welcome 50% of the time and again just ask. If they are desperate to rent the property they will bend over backward for you Im sure.

Phil
 

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Thank you for your reply. You provided a lot of helpful info.

For the flats that do allow cats, will there be an extra pet rental charge? In the states they often charge $50 to $100 extra rent per month if you have a pet. This covers any damage the pet will do. Do you know if these types of charges exist in the UK?
There are some ways you can make yourself more attractive as a pet owning tenant:
Offer to have the carpets & curtains professionally cleaned at end of tenancy
Offer a higher deposit than they are asking
If you really like somewhere offer them an extra £50 a month
Many landlords will ask for this anyway, but if you offer it up front first, it shows you are responsible and will take care of the place.

Search in the local papers for rentals too. Many landlords find tenants themselves rather than using letting agencies.
Also, credit check companies such as Experian are global, and if you get a credit check based on your US history, this will really help.
 

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Hello!
There are already a few posts here, so i'll try to focus on some things that have been overlooked.
- When you calculate your rent price, remember that there are more than 4 weeks in a month, therefore if a flat costs 200 pounds per week, it is going to be more than 800 pounds per month. This is a trap that many people fall in.
- Renting with a private landlord is a good idea as they will be more flexible with pets (as has been already mentioned) and they are not likely to run a credit check. However, it's more difficult to find a flat this way, as most landlords work with agencies.
-They usually know a month in advance whether a flat will be available, or two months at most, as this is the notice that the previous tenants have to give. I don't think you should start looking before that, unless you want to get a general idea about the market, prices, location and fees.
Good luck with moving! If you want more tips about finding accommodation, have a look at the website below.
 

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-They usually know a month in advance whether a flat will be available, or two months at most, as this is the notice that the previous tenants have to give. I don't think you should start looking before that, unless you want to get a general idea about the market, prices, location and fees.
And that brings me to an issue I have. My husband and I want to move to Scotland in October, I am a UK citizen and it's time to apply for my husband's spouse visa. They require a UK address, however, but how can we get one so far in advance?? I'm really trying, but...

Has anyone applied for the spouse visa without a UK address in advance?
 

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And that brings me to an issue I have. My husband and I want to move to Scotland in October, I am a UK citizen and it's time to apply for my husband's spouse visa. They require a UK address, however, but how can we get one so far in advance?? I'm really trying, but...

Has anyone applied for the spouse visa without a UK address in advance?
The address, and the property located there, can be prospective rather than actually rented or owned. But it must be realistic in terms of location, cost and size to meet your needs. What most couples do is for the British partner to go to UK on a scouting mission and research the market, and once they locate a suitable place, use it as a prospective accommodation. You need to get basic information and show it on your application. Provided there is a realistic chance of your actually renting/owning the place, that will usually be sufficient for visa purposes. Or you can get an offer from a relative to live with them temporarily, and again if it meets your needs (it must not be overcrowded, for exmple), you can put it forward, with supporting evidence.
There is much useful information in http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/ecg/maintenanceaccommodation.
 
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