Finding homes for Employees Relocating to London: A Guide to Home Search for Global Mobility Managers

Posted by By Bournes Relocation Solutions - August 10, 2023

In this guide: 

  1. Reasons to Consider Using a Home Search Provider
  2. The Home Search Process
  3. Unique Challenges of Finding Employee Accommodation in London
  4. Key Considerations for London Home Search
  5. Types of Home Typically Available in London
  6. Popular Residential Areas for Relocated Employees Working in London 
  7. Securing a Rental Home in London: The Process
  8. UK Rental Agreements & Break Clauses
  9. Utilities and Services
  10. Budgeting for Employee Accommodation in London
  11. Timescale for a London Home Search 

Photo of London Buildings by pexels-yelena-odintsova-4655752 (1)

Photo by Yelena Odintsova


Finding suitable accommodation in London for your employees can be a daunting task. The city is vast, with a wide variety of neighbourhoods, each offering its unique charm and lifestyle. However, it's crucial to find a home that fits your employees' needs and budget. To simplify this process and ensure a smooth transition, engaging the services of a home search company like Bournes Relocation Solutions is highly recommended. 

Reasons to consider using a home-search provider

  • Expertise: They have in-depth knowledge of London's property market, ensuring your employees get the best value for their money.
  • Time-saving: With their extensive network and resources, they can find suitable properties much faster than an individual search.
  • Convenience: They handle all aspects of the search, from scheduling viewings to negotiating lease terms, leaving your employees free to focus on their work.
  • Compliance and Duty of Care: They have expert knowledge of the UK's rental market legislation meaning you are protected from rogue landlords, inappropriate leases and unnecessary risk to financial and personal safety.
  • Support: After the move they provide assistance helping your employees settle in and navigate their new environment.

Remember, the goal is not just to relocate your employees but to ensure they feel comfortable and supported in their new home. This is where a home search company can make a world of difference.

Find out more about Our Home Search service

Now that you understand the value of a home search company, let's look at how the process generally works: 

The Home Search Process

  1. Initial Consultation: The company will first understand your employee's needs, preferences, and budget.
  2. Property Search: Based on the consultation, they will then search for suitable properties and shortlist the best ones.
  3. Viewings: They will arrange viewings for the shortlisted properties. Some companies also offer virtual viewings.
  4. Lease Negotiation: Once a property is selected, they will negotiate the lease terms, ensuring your employee gets a fair deal.
  5. Referencing and lease Signing: A reference check is completed by an independent company prior to signing the lease.
  6. Aftercare: After the move, they provide support and assistance to help your employee settle in.

To make the relocation process as seamless as possible, trust a home search company like Bournes Relocation Solutions. Our expertise and dedication may prove invaluable!

Understanding the Unique Challenges of Finding Accommodation in London


London skyline_ Image by pexels-olga-lioncat-7245330Photo by Olga Lioncat

The property market in London is unique, unlike any other in the world, and understanding its nuances can make the process significantly easier. 

One of the key challenges is the sheer cost of living. London is one of the most expensive cities globally and this is reflected in the rental prices. This can be quite a shock for staff moving from regions where the cost of living is considerably lower. 

"The high cost of living in London compared to other cities can be a significant obstacle when relocating employees. Companies need to set realistic budgets that reflect the rental market in the city."

Another factor to consider is the speed of the London rental market. London has a high demand for rental properties, with a low supply of available homes. Properties in desirable areas can go off the market within a day, making it crucial to make quick decisions, which isn’t always feasible for larger corporations.

In addition, the vast size of the city and the diversity of its districts can be a challenge. Each borough has its own character and comes with different perks and drawbacks. Balancing the proximity to the workplace, access to public transport, local amenities, and the overall atmosphere can be a difficult task. 

"London's size and diversity can be both a strength and a challenge when looking for accommodation. It's important for companies to understand the character of each district and find a balance that suits their employees' needs."

Finally, let's not forget the legal aspects. England has its own set of laws and regulations regarding tenancy, which are different from those in other countries, and non-compliance can be costly. 

Understanding these challenges is the first step to a successful relocation, that's why it's important to work with a local professional relocation company for your home search so that you are fully informed and compliant and your employee is supported and guided through the process, every step of the way. 

Key Considerations When Looking for Accommodation for Your Employees in London

A planned approach considering important factors can make the process of finding the right accommodation for your employee easier.


London is a city of numerous boroughs and neighbourhoods, all with their distinct characteristics. Consider the employee's role, office location, family situation (if applicable) and their personal preferences. The closer the accommodation to the office, the less time the employee spends commuting, contributing to their productivity and work-life balance. However, this needs to be carefully balanced with the cost and lifestyle implications of living in the centre of the city.

Remember, London is well-served by public transportation, so accessibility to a tube station or bus stop can broaden your search area.


London is notorious for high rental prices. It's crucial to set and stick to a budget for accommodation expenses. If the budget does not match the desired living standard in certain areas, you may need to consider other locations or property types. 

  • Is the budget flexible or fixed?
  • Does it cover all housing expenses like utilities and council tax?
  • Does the company offer a housing allowance or is it directly handling the rent payments?

Length of Stay: 

The duration of the employee's assignment affects the type of accommodation. For short-term stays of less than 6 months, serviced apartments might be a fitting choice. For longer stays, a traditional lease could offer more stability and cost-effectiveness. 

Be aware that most landlords in London prefer a minimum of 12 month lease agreements. 6 month leases are available but can be harder to find and more expensive.

Types of Homes Typically Available in London 

When relocating your employees to London, it's essential to be aware of the different types of homes available in the city. Each offers its own unique features and benefits, depending largely on your employee's lifestyle and preferences. Here's what you can typically expect: 

  • Apartments and flats: typically found in multi-story buildings and ranging from small studios to large apartments with multiple bedrooms. A popular choice for those wanting to live in the city centre or in areas with good transport links. Some apartment buildings include shared facilities such as a gym or pool and offer services such as housekeeping or concierge. 
  • Terraced houses: typically narrow, multi-story houses joined together in a row. Often found in residential areas offering a balance between space and affordability. Many have small gardens or outdoor space available.
  • Semi-detached and detached houses: less common in central London but more common on the outskirts and commuter areas. Semi-detached houses are two homes that share one common wall, whereas a detached home is completely stand-alone. Many houses will have their own garden or outdoor space. Typically more expensive than an apartment or terraced home but offers more space and privacy, especially for families. 
  • Mews houses: a unique type of home, typically two-story houses converted from stables or carriage houses located in quiet residential areas.
  • Converted warehouses and lofts: Increasingly popular in London these spaces are often large, open-plan spaces that were once used for business or industrial purposes offering lots of space with high ceilings, big windows and a unique character. 

pexels-lina-kivaka-4482667Photo by Lina Kivaka

Properties may come furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished. The level of furnishing can vary by the landlord so it's important for the employee to review what's included before making an offer and signing a lease - especially when a property has been occupied by a previous tenant during viewings.

Comparison of Typical Rental Property Furnishing options 

Type of Property


Items typically Included


These properties are fully equipped with all the furniture and appliances needed for daily life. They offer the highest level of convenience but are typically more expensive.

  • Bed(s)

  • Seating (sofas, chairs)

  • Dining table and chairs

  • White goods (fridge, washing machine)

  • Wardrobe / hanging clothes space


These properties include some basic furniture and white goods but may lack items like kitchenware, bedding, and electronics. They offer a balance between convenience and flexibility. This leaves the employee scope to add their own personal touches. 

  • Bed(s)

  • Seating (sofas, chairs)

  • White goods (fridge, washing machine)


These properties come with no furniture or appliances. They provide the most freedom for personalisation but require more effort and investment up front. They normally would include basic fixtures such as cabinets, bathroom fixtures and light fittings but the employee would need to provide own furniture either using a furniture rental package or by shipping their own belongings from home using a corporate shipping company

  • White goods (fridge, washing machine)

  • Note: Always review the inventory list provided by the landlord or letting agency before signing a lease. This list details all the items included in the property and their condition. Remember, what's important is that the property meets the specific needs of the employee relocating.

Popular residential areas for relocated employees working in London

London is a vast and diverse city, with a wide range of residential areas to choose from. The city is a sprawling metropolis and there are many residential areas within the city, or on the outskirts within commuting distance. 

Some of the most popular areas include Kensington and Chelsea, which are known for their luxurious properties and high-end shopping. These areas are also home to some of London's most famous museums and galleries, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Kensington home - photo via pexels-lina-kivaka-3639510 Kensington Home - Photo by Lina Kivaka

Another popular area is Camden, which is known for its vibrant music scene and eclectic markets. Camden is also home to a number of independent shops and restaurants, making it a great place to explore and discover new things.

For those looking for a more peaceful and family-friendly area, Richmond, Wimbledon and Kingston upon Thames are popular choices. These areas are located on the outskirts of London and offer a more suburban lifestyle, with plenty of green spaces and good schools with easy access to public transport and a range of amenities. 

Another popular area is Canary Wharf, which is located in the east of London. This area is known for its modern architecture and proximity to the financial district. Canary Wharf is well-connected to the rest of London via the Jubilee Line and the DLR.

If you're looking for a more traditional English village feel, you might consider areas like Chiswick, Hampstead, or Highgate. These areas are located in the north and west of London and offer a quieter pace of life, with plenty of green spaces and historic architecture. However, they can be more expensive than other areas.

Finally, if you're looking for a trendy and up-and-coming area, Shoreditch and Hackney are worth considering. These areas are known for their street art, independent shops and restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. They are popular with young professionals and creatives.

Securing a Rental Home in London: The Process 

viewing a home - image via pexels-rdne-stock-project-8292816 www.bournesmoves.comrelocation-services-home-search image by RDNE Stock Project

Once your employee has found a suitable home in London they will go through the process of securing the lease ahead of moving in. 

  1. Application: If the employee is happy with the property, the next step is to submit an application. This typically involves filling out a form detailing the renter's personal information and employment status.
  2. Reference Checks: Most UK landlords require references from previous landlords or employers. These checks are carried out to confirm the tenant's reliability and ability to meet rental payments. This may include providing identification, proof of income, references and credit checks. 
  3. Signing the Lease: If the references are satisfactory, then a lease agreement (also known as a tenancy agreement) is prepared. This legally binding document outlines the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including the duration of the lease, the rent amount, and the tenant's responsibilities.
  4. Payment: On signing the lease, the tenant is usually required to pay the first month's rent in advance, along with a security deposit. The deposit is typically equivalent to 5 weeks' rent - 6 weeks maximum. 

Understanding Tenants' Rights in the UK Regarding Security Deposits 

As an essential part of renting in London, understanding your employee's rights regarding deposits is vital. Here is a comprehensive guide on what the tenant is entitled to: 

  1. Deposit Cap: In accordance with the Tenant Fees Act 2019, landlords can only request a maximum of 5 weeks' rent for a deposit if your total annual rent is less than £50,000. If your yearly rent is over £50,000, the maximum deposit is 6 weeks' rent.
  2. Deposit Protection: Your landlord is legally obligated to protect your deposit within a government-approved scheme. They must provide you with the prescribed information about the scheme within 30 days of receiving your deposit.
  3. Return of Deposit: At the end of your tenancy, your landlord should return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing on the amount.
  4. Deductions: Your landlord can only make deductions from your deposit under certain circumstances, such as covering unpaid rent or the cost of repairing any damage beyond normal wear and tear.

Remember, knowledge is power. By knowing your rights, you can ensure fair treatment and protect your finances when renting in London.


Holding Deposits

You can pay a holding deposit to reserve a property whilst you go through the process of signing the tenancy agreement. This cannot legally be more than 1 week's rent. It's important to only pay this holding deposit if the employee is sure they want to rent this property as they could lose the money if they back out or fail to give the required information to progress with the tenancy (e.g., providing references), or if they fail the right to rent immigration check

UK rental agreements

Renting a property in London is often the most practical option for employees relocating to the city. However, the United Kingdom has a variety of rental agreements. Understanding these different options will help you to make the best choice for your employees. 

The three main types of rental agreements in the UK are: 

  1. Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs)
  2. Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancies (NASTs)
  3. Excluded Tenancies or Licenses

Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) are the most common type of rental agreement in the UK. They offer a minimum fixed term of six months and provide tenants with a degree of security. The landlord has the right to take back possession of the property after the fixed term, given they provide two months' notice. 

Note: ASTs are often the most suitable option for employees relocating to London on a fixed-term contract.

Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancies (NASTs) are generally used when the rent is very high (over £100,000 per annum) or very low (less than £250 per annum in London), or when the landlord lives in the same property but shares facilities with the tenant. They offer fewer protections for tenants. 

Excluded Tenancies or Licenses are typically used when the tenant shares the property with the landlord. These agreements provide the least protection for tenants but offer the most flexibility, with the landlord able to terminate the agreement at short notice. 

Understanding Break Clauses in UK Rental Contracts 

When relocating employees to London, understanding the nuances of UK rental contracts is a crucial part of the process. One aspect of these contracts that often requires clarification is the break clause. 

Break clauses offer flexibility within a rental agreement, providing both the tenant and landlord an opportunity to terminate the agreement before the fixed term expires. This can be particularly useful in situations where your employee may need to vacate the property earlier than anticipated. 

"A well-drafted break clause can provide flexibility and peace of mind in a rental contract. However, it is essential to be aware of when and how these clauses should be used."

The use of break clauses is not typically seen in Excluded Tenancies or Licenses. 

Moving into The Property 

Once the lease is signed and payments are made, it's time to move into the property. Here's what needs to be done: 

  1. Inventory Check: Conduct an inventory check to ensure all items in the property are accounted for. This will be compared with an exit inventory check at the end of the lease.
  2. Setting up Utilities: Arrange for the transfer of utilities such as gas, electricity, and internet into the tenant's name.
  3. Change of Address: Notify relevant parties, such as the employee's bank, insurance company, and local council, of their new address.
  4. Removals services: Once your employee has secured a property you can work with your Corporate Household Goods Shipping company to arrange delivery dates.  

Setting up Utilities / Services

Whilst the main utilities will all be connected it is typically the responsibility of the tenant to get these set up to their account when they move in. The most common utilities include:

  • Gas and Electricity - Employees will have a choice of provider and it's important to set this up quickly to avoid charges with the previous provider.
  • Water - provided by the local water company.
  • Internet - employees will have a choice of provider and will not be connected until an account is set up. 
  • Council Tax - Employees will need to set up an account with the local council
  • TV Licence - can be set up quickly and easily online and is required if the tenant will watch live TV or BBC iPlayer. 

Don't underestimate the importance of getting Broadband Internet set up quickly - especially if there is a 'work from home' requirement or if the family is relocating with children who want to keep in touch with family and friends back 'home'. 

TIP: It's important that the employee takes meter readings for Gas, Electricity and Water on arrival in their new property to ensure they aren't responsible for billing from a previous tenant. 

Home Insurance

Whilst the landlord should hold buildings and landlord insurance, protecting the contents of the home is down to the individual tenant. It's not legally required in the UK but it's a very good idea to have it to protect the family financially if any items are damaged or stolen. 

Contents insurance will typically cover furniture, clothing, jewellery etc. and depending on policy may also cover accidental damage or use outside of the home for items like laptops or bicycles. 

It's important that the policyholder reads the policy carefully to understand what's covered and that they give an accurate valuation to ensure they will be correctly compensated in the event of a claim - keeping this up to date if anything changes. 

How much should companies budget for employee accommodation in London?

Relocating to London can be an exciting venture for your employees, however, London is the most expensive city in Europe for renting a home so it's important to budget carefully and set expectations upfront. 

To help you determine a budget for renting accommodation in London, let's delve into the key factors influencing the cost. 

Note: The rental prices in London can significantly vary depending on the location, property type, and amenities available. Therefore, it is critical to factor in these elements when budgeting. 

"London has one of the most dynamic housing markets in the world, with a wide range of options to suit every lifestyle and budget."

Components of Rental Costs 

When budgeting for rental accommodation in London, consider these fundamental components: 

  • Rent: This is the monthly cost for renting the property. Check out the London Rents Map for average monthly rental prices for different types of home across London. 
  • Utility bills: These include costs for gas, electricity, water, and internet.
  • Council Tax: This is a local tax charged by the borough where the property is located.
  • Other costs: These can include service charges in flats, maintenance costs, and contents insurance.

To make your budgeting process easier and more efficient, consider hiring a professional relocation company to assist with your home search. They have extensive knowledge of the London rental market and can provide accurate estimates based on your employees' needs and preferences.

How long does it take to find suitable accommodation for employees in London?

Finding suitable accommodation for employees in London can be a complex process, and the timeline can vary depending on several factors. We would advise the process should be initiated as early as possible. 

Here are a few factors that can influence the timescale for a London Home Search:

  • Time of the year: Some periods, such as student move-in times (September/October and January), can be particularly busy. During these times, it might take longer to find suitable accommodation.
  • Availability of options: Depending on the employee's specifications and budget, the availability of suitable options can vary significantly. This can potentially lengthen or shorten the search process.
  • Employee's availability: How quickly an employee can make decisions and view properties can impact the timeline.
  • Documentation availability: Having all the necessary documentation ready for referencing checks can speed up the process of signing a lease and moving in. 

On average, the process of finding suitable accommodation, from initial search to finalising the lease takes around a month. However, it's crucial to understand that this is merely an average, and actual timescales can vary significantly.  Working with an experienced Home Search company with expert knowledge of the local market and a great network of contacts can significantly reduce the time it takes to find and secure a new home. 

Note: Companies should start the accommodation search process as early as possible to allow sufficient time for finding the right places and handling any unexpected issues that might arise.


Ready to start your London Home Search?

In conclusion, navigating the complex and dynamic London housing market can be daunting. However, with a structured approach, this process can be made seamless and efficient. Remember, early planning and preparation are key. This includes understanding your employees' needs and preferences, familiarising yourself with the local housing market, and ensuring all necessary documents are in order. 

Further, it's important not to underestimate the potential challenges and hurdles that might come up. From high competition for properties to legal complexities and logistical hassles - navigating these can be stressful. However, remember that you're not alone in this process.

What's the next step? 

Seeking professional guidance can significantly streamline your house-hunting journey. Specialists like Bournes can provide invaluable advice and assistance. Whether you are seeking guidance through the process or need hands-on help with property searches and relocation logistics, we are here to help. 

Find out more about Our Home Search service

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