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UNCLE is bringing a kinder approach to renting – and we’re sold

Marie Claire tried a night in the rental startup’s Elephant and Castle apartment building, and we didn't want to leave…

For most millennials, once you’ve moved out of your family home or university accommodation, the next step is renting. From dodgy landlords to colour-changing mould, the murky depths of the private rental market can always be relied on to provide a learning curve, but rarely a positive experience.

For Ryan Prince, this was totally unacceptable, and he founded rental start-up UNCLE in 2015. Intrigued by their mission to take the ‘lord’ out of landlord, we had to take a look for ourselves…

What is it?

With four apartment buildings in London, and one in Manchester, UNCLE is a chain of rental apartments which offer stability and reliability for those seeking a new home. UNCLE owns all of the buildings, so there’s no faffing around with different landlords and agents.

We were lucky enough to try an overnight stay at their Elephant and Castle location. Just two minute away from the tube station (and London’s most complicated roundabout) the building is in an incredible location, but somehow manages to feel welcoming and relaxed.

Greeted by the concierge, we made our way up to the 44th (!) floor…

What you can expect?

Every UNCLE property has certain aspects as standard like on-site resident managers and super-fast internet, but some do vary by location. Uncle’s Elephant and Castle boasts a Sky Lounge (more on this in a minute) on the 45th floor and a fully kitted-out gym, all included in your rent.

The Sky Lounge functions as more than a place to gawp at the utterly incredible panoramic views of London: it’s the social heart of the buildings too. During my tour, Kassy Essiet, the Elephant and Castle building manager, explained that the building had a great sense of community, and Sky Lounge plays host to different parties organised by the residents.

I attempted to work out here…

The extras

Chatting with Kassy during the tour, she explained about another UNCLE USP: their women-only viewings. Founder Prince is pretty clear about the importance of this, saying ‘We may be called UNCLE, but we’re for everyone. We hope our women-only viewings reassure anyone who might be concerned about this kind of thing. Everyone should feel safe in their home.’

With your safety sorted, let’s move on to comfort. While you can choose your UNCLE apartment to be furnished or unfurnished, when you go for the former, UNCLE goes for the best! All furniture is from Made.com, which gives each apartment a put-together and sophisticated feel. Special shout-out to the bed in the apartment, where I genuinely had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years.

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Yes, this is what the living room *actually* looked like

So, what do you get?

For a fixed price, which does vary depending on which city and location you’re living in, say goodbye to agents’ fees, and hello to guaranteed repairs within 48 hours (or a day’s rent back), leases of up to four years and pre-agreed rent increases.

The rents themselves are pretty varied, starting from £895 a month for a studio apartment in Manchester, going all the way up to £2300pcm for a furnished one bed apartment in Elephant and Castle. Even in London, though, the price points are variable – if you’ve got two friends you want to share with, UNCLE New Cross works out at around £800 pcm.

If you can work out the pricing, the sense of security and community that make a rented apartment feel like a home, we have to admit that we’re sold on UNCLE.

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