Costs and legal rights

Living in Europe | Accommodation | United Kingdom

Costs associated with accommodation can vary greatly throughout the UK and often depend on your type of home.

What costs will I face?

There are various costs associated with living in the UK. The type of costs you come across will change depending on whether you choose to own property or rent.

  • Deposit: Normally one month’s rent and refundable at the end of the tenancy.
  • Rent payments: Rent and mortgage payments are most often paid monthly and vary considerably depending on the type of accommodation and where you live. Accommodation and property in London are the most expensive in the UK. Rental property elsewhere in the UK is much cheaper. It is a good idea to check whether utility bills and council tax are included in the rental price.
  • Furniture: Properties come either furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished. This is usually disclosed in the rental advertisement. Furnished and part-furnished properties include most commonly needed furniture items, such as a bed, warderobe, desk, etc. and white goods (washing machine, fridge etc). Unfurnished property will not include any furniture.
  • Council tax: The amount of council tax you will have to pay depends on where you live and the property that you live in. Council tax rates vary widely, even within cities. You may be entitled to a reduction in council tax dependent on certain factors. If you are registered as a full-time student you may be expemp from paying council tax. Learn more about council tax by visiting GOV.UK.

In Northern Ireland instead of council tax a rates system is in place and you can find out more about this on the Land and Property Services Website

Insurance: You will most often need buildings insurance and contents insurance. Buildings insurance covers damages to the structure of the building. Contents insurance covers your personal possessions within the building.

Prices for both vary depending on the provider and your location in the UK. You should check with your landlord to find out exactly what is covered in the agreement.

Utility bills: Depending on your contract you may have to pay for utility bills. These include water, gas and electricity. Gas and electricity normally come from the same supplier. Water bills vary, depending on the area.

Television license: If you wish to watch or stream live television, you must have a TV licence. There are special circumstances, such as the elderly for whom there are exemptions. Find out more about the licence by visiting TV licensing.

Note that if you live in university accommodation, a lot of these costs will be included in your rent, and sometimes even food is included as well, so make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.

Legal rights

Tenancy agreements

You will enter into a legal contract with a landlord or letting agent when you rent property. There are different types of tenancy agreements available. Each tenancy agreement should outline the landlord's responsibilities and also your responsibilities as the tenant. Tenants are usually responsible for the maintenance of furniture and bills of the property. The landlord usually takes care of building and safety management. GOV.UK offers further advice on tenancy agreements.

Buying property

If you plan to spend a substantial amount of time in the UK, you may want to own property. As with renting, there are various costs and requirements needed to purchase property:

  • Mortgage loans: Mortgages are used to help raise funds to purchase property. It is the responsibility of the loan owner to then pay back the outstanding value as per the agreed contract. Mortgage rates are competitive and you should do substantial research to get the best deal.
  • Deposits: You will need a deposit to purchase the property. It usually around 5% of the purchase price. Having a larger deposit makes it easier to get a good mortgage deal.
  • Solicitor / Conveyancer fees: Solicitors and conveyancers deal with the legal aspects of buying and selling property. Their costs can vary depending on your area and the company.
  • Surveyor fees: Surveyors investigate the structure of the building, helping to raise any issues with the building. It is advised to get this done before purchasing.
  • Stamp duty: This is a tax that you must pay if the property you buy is more than £125,000. It is currently 1% of the total purchase price for a property less than £250,000.

GOV.UK has more comprehensive information on buying a home.

If you are planning on buying in Scotland, the process and law is different. A good guide is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.