With the constant comings and goings of the city, sometimes you’ll need to find cheap short term lets in London to tide you over. Whether it’s when you’re visiting or you need to find temporary accommodation in London for one reason or another. It’s not impossible to find cheap short term accommodation, but you’ll need to know where to look to make sure you’re not paying over the odds. Short term rentals are usually more expensive than a long term let, but they’re not all extortionately priced. Phew!
In this guide we will talk you through a few different options that you have when trying to find somewhere to live in London, short term and on a budget. From a stranger’s couch to becoming the temporary guardian of a mansion…
What is a short term let?
A short term let is identified as a property (or room in a property) that is rented out for a period of less than 90 nights. In other words, less than 3 months. Often a short term let is used when you are moving between properties, you are working on a short term contract, or you need to rent elsewhere in an emergency.
There are lots of reasons why Londoners and those visiting London may require a short term let, and so luckily they can be found in abundance in the city and the surrounding areas.
Where to find cheap short term lets in London
Short term rentals aren’t hard to come by in London. For an affordable short term let you may want to expand your search criteria to Zone 3 and beyond. The further you get out of central London, the more likely you are to find a cheaper short term rental.
Luckily, London transport links are fantastic, and so this shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance when it comes to finding something suitable in the short term. Yep, it’s even possible to travel cheaply around London. (I love the rail card with Oyster card hack!)
Spareroom.co.uk is a popular website for finding houseshares in London. Landlords, current tenants, and prospective tenants all advertise on the platform. You’ll regularly find cheap short term lets on Spareroom in existing houseshares which is perfect if you are a single person or a couple.
The reason that short term lets are available in existing house shares could be that the current tenant is going travelling for a few months or they are moving for work temporarily, and want to return to their house share once they get back.
To get started, set up a profile on Spareroom, and start your search. There is very extensive search criteria which will help you find something that is perfect for you. You can filter rooms by location and price, but you can also filter by the age, gender, and interests of your potential housemates.
A slightly pricier option is Airbnb. You may be familiar with Airbnb as a popular way to book accommodation on holiday. However, did you also know that you can use it to find short term lets in London?
If you have enough time in advance to look for a short term rental, you can review Airbnb to see what is available. If nothing is suitable, you could message a host to see if they will consider offering a short term let to you. This is likely to be at a reduced cost compared to their current advertised nightly rate. This will only work if you are booking far enough in advance, as otherwise many hosts will already have bookings scheduled for other guests.
A property guardian will stay in a disused property and act as a guardian while staying there. Pretty cool, right? It’s usually a temporary solution, and you could be staying in disused commercial properties, hotels, or even a mansion!
Usually you’d be sharing with several other people in the property. The reason that property guardianship exists is so that the buildings do not go to ruin, and instead are looked after by the appointed guardian or guardians.
Although property guardianship is not totally free, it certainly is cheaper than traditional rentals. You get free rent, but you do pay a monthly license fee to stay in the property. The license fee is on average around £435 per month. A lot cheaper than most London rents!
There are thought to be over 5,000 property guardians in the UK, with most found in London. You can find yourself a property guardianship position by heading to popular websites such as Live In Guardians, Dot Dot Dot, The Lowe Group, Global Guardians and VPS Guardians.
Serviced Apartments in London
Serviced apartments are again, perhaps slightly more expensive than Spareroom, but still cost less than a hotel. They have everything you could possibly need including bedding, towels, crockery and furniture, and are also cleaned and serviced for you.
You can stay in a serviced apartment for as long as you may need. It acts almost like an Airbnb, but the apartments are usually owned by a much larger company, and are serviced frequently during your stay.
Housesitting in London
For something very short term, you could try housesitting in London. Housesitting works on the basis that you stay in someone else’s home while they are not there to make sure that everything is safe and secure. Your duties might also include tending to pets, plants, and general housekeeping.
Although this is a more difficult option due to timings, it can be a very cost-effective way of staying in London. You might even get paid! Head to websites such as Trusted House Sitters or Pawshake to find people who are looking for housesitters in London. It’s best if you are able to gain reviews and testimonials, but everyone has to start somewhere.
Couch surfing in London is a popular way to stay in London for free, However, it is unreliable compared to other options, and you’ll usually only be able to stay for one or two nights. This makes couch surfing a very short term option.
You can register a profile on couchsurfing.com to start finding a suitable couch to sleep on. Couchsurfing.com has great reviews and testimonials, and safety precautions in place. There are also dedicated London-based Facebook groups to help couch surfers find a place to stay. Try searching for London Couchsurfing on Facebook (it has 3k+ members).
Unless you are looking for free accommodation for a couple of nights as a visitor, you are better off trying another option in this guide for short term lets in London.
You may have heard of Gumtree as an online marketplace to sell home furniture and other items. But did you know that it’s also a classifieds site too? Head to the Property To Rent page and filter by short term lets.
Be sure to stay vigilant on online marketplace sites like Gumtree to make sure that you are keeping safe when it comes to any scams and making sure that the property or room that you let is safe. If the rate seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Hostels in London
Hostels can be a great place to find temporary accommodation in London. It’s also usually much cheaper than a hotel, and there is no shortage of hostels in the city. You might even be spoiled for choice! There is the option to stay in a dormitory style room, but some hostels also offer private rooms.
For a night in a hostel in London prices can start from £20 during off peak times. As you might expect, hostels get cheaper the further away from central London you get. However, you can also stay in some very central London locations for as little as £39.
As old fashioned as it might sound, being a lodger can be an effective and cheap option for cheap short term lets in London. With more people looking to make extra money in London, there are now more options for lodgings throughout the city.
Usually being a lodger will mean that you are staying in a room in someone’s home. Typically, you will be able to use their bathroom, kitchen and other facilities.
To find lodgings in London, you can head to the websites listed earlier in this guide such as Gumtree and Spareroom.co.uk. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for listings in local newspapers. But also check out sites such as Money To Friday which pairs lodgers with people wanting to rent out a room part-time.
Can you rent for 3 months in the UK?
Yes, you can rent for 3 months or less in the UK. To be defined as a ‘short term let’ in London, a let must be for 90 nights or less. So pretty much 3 months!
There are lots of short term rentals available in London. Take a look at the list in this post on where to find a rental for 3 months or less.
How long is a short term let in London?
A short term let in London is defined as less than 90 nights.
Where is the cheapest place to rent closest to London?
Greater London is hugely expansive. That means there are lots of places on the outskirts of London that are cheap to rent. Take a look at areas such as Croydon, Bexley, Catford, Barking and Dagenham, Bromley and Sutton.