Renting after the pandemic: Lessons from the first lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic had left students in an unwarranted position and many students had been forced to move out of London and back into their family homes. With news of eventual easing in lockdown restrictions, students are now returning back to London. However, maneuvering the volatile climate to find tenancy remains a difficult task.

If the first lockdown has taught us anything, it’s the need for flexibility in the way we rent.  At the beginning of the first lockdown most students had to pay rent for their unoccupied flats in London. Although the vaccine roll-out has provided us with some assurance of a return to normalcy, students are now keener than ever to plan in advance their tenancy in London.

Image from CocoonSync

Rikin Lau, a student at Imperial College London, shares the concerns of international students specifically: “Since I don’t live in the UK, the pandemic had meant that my plans for returning to London were not concrete. It’s important to have resources that allow you to look for properties available in the future as opposed to just the ones available now.”  

“As an international student, having resources that can help you plan in advance is very crucial since most of us don’t have the luxury to move back home or find alternative living arrangements once we are in the country,” points out Laxmi, a student at King’s College London.  

Although international students are especially vulnerable to the volatility created by the pandemic, home students, too, are not untouched by this problem.

“I don’t want to rent a flat right now and then be forced to move back home and still have to pay rent for a place I am not living in. It’s just not feasible or sensible,” says Molly Tonks, a student at Goldsmiths.

The government has maintained that all students living in privately rented accommodation “remain liable for rent payments until their contracts expire” despite NUS push for reduced rent. 

In light of this, LS has compiled a list of resources that students can turn to for making more informed decisions for their tenancy.

  • CocoonSync is an online repository that specifically caters to people searching for property months in advance. Their search function allows you to filter out property months before you move in. This is especially useful for students who are living outside of London and planning to move in later this year.
  • Know the boroughs or areas you would like to move into in advance. The pandemic has brought down rent prices in a lot of different areas. The Independent has curated a comprehensive list that can be helpful.
  • It’s also a good idea to get to know the different boroughs in advance. CocoonSync’s blog has concise renter’s guides to some of the most popular renting spots in London. Owing to the pandemic, most students are unable to physically view properties. Resources such as this can act a great substitute to get the feel of the area that you want to move into whilst staying safe at home.
“Working from home means being comfy at home!” CocoonSync
  • Zoopla has published some great resources to keep you up to date with housing rules under the pandemic. For example, a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) where there are five or more people from at least two different household requires mandatory licensing.

In an environment that is constantly changing, it is important for students to not only be aware of their rights as renters, but to also cater their plans to accommodate to these constant changes.

Planning in advance and being in the loop with changing restrictions is key for students looking to rent in London.

Editor at London Student

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