Affording the Rent

The “rules”

So, first things first. How much rent can you afford to pay? Letting agents, landlords and the referencing companies determine this by checking if your annual salary is roughly 3 times the annual rent of the property. This is based on the theory that you need 1/3 of your income for rent, 1/3 for bills and other outgoings and 1/3 to live off and this is actually a pretty realistic view in practice. This is not, however, set in stone and most letting agents, landlords and referencing agencies will take a view on a tenants ability to pay the rent if their income falls a bit short of this. If there is more than one tenant, all tenants' annual salaries added together should be 3 times the annual rent of the property.


If you don't earn enough money, have bad credit or are a student with low or no income, there are a few assurances that you can offer to the landlord in order to secure a property to rent.

  1. Guarantor - a guarantor is a person, usually a member of your family, who signs a legally binding contract with the landlord or managing agent of the property stating that they will guarantee all financial elements of the let. Essentially, they become responsible for paying the rent and/or for any damage or dilapidations on the property in the event that you can't. Most landlords and letting agents will require a UK based guarantor to guarantee a UK rental contract as it is very difficult to hold someone who is not resident in the UK to a UK contract.
  2. Rent up front - if you don't have someone who can act as guarantor or if that option is not satisfactory to the landlord of the property, you could offer to pay all or some of the rent up front i.e. 6 months rent up front or maybe 3 months.
  3. Finally, in some cases, it may be possible to offer a greater security deposit/bond to demonstrate your commitment.

Further options/compromises

Depending on what is most important to you - space, proximity to station, area or the look of the property, there are some compromises you could consider to bring down your costs.

  1. Sharing - When looking to rent alone or often even as part of a couple (especially in London!) your finances can become seriously stretched. If so, it may be worth considering sharing accommodation and therefore costs with others. Paying half the rent on a two bedroom property or a third of the rent on a three bedroom property is much, much cheaper than paying the whole rent on a one bedroom or studio property.
  2. Location - Another consideration for cutting rental costs is to compromise on location. In London, rental prices are determined by the convenience of the property and the desirability of an area. So, by living a bit further from a station for example, you will pay less rent or by living just outside (often even within easy walking distance) of a very desirable area, you will pay less rent.
  3. Type of Property - My experience has been that most tenants want a period property or a brand new property but are not keen on the idea of renting an ex-council flat or house or a purpose built property that's not brand new. Consequently, these properties tend to be a lot cheaper than their equivalent sized period property whilst still offering the same benefits of location and convenience.