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Student Housing Dos and Don'ts

7 Oct 2021

Hannah Bettelley

Student Housing Dos and Don'ts

It’s coming to the time where estate agents will be pressuring students into securing their uni house, you may have already encountered one, or perhaps others have told you that if you don’t get a house soon, there will be none left before you need to move in. This is simply not true. It is currently October 2021, and the new school year doesn’t begin until September 2022, which is almost a year in the future, so there’s no rush!


Students are often pressured into contracts that leave them susceptible to issues during their tenancy, including rat infestations, broken furniture, faulty heating and unfair costs from greedy landlords. Due to a lack of awareness surrounding housing rights for young people, students are left in the dark when it comes to signing tenancy agreements, so here are some dos and don’ts that can help protect you and inform you of some of your basic housing rights!



What to look out for in the Tenancy Agreement


It’s always important to read your contract, no matter how long and boring it looks, it can end up saving you from paying unwanted costs in the future.


  • Check the type of agreement you’re signing:


-The standard is a 12-month shorthold contract (AST).

-An individual contract is a more desirable option – with this type of contract, if one person leaves the house or pays rent late the rest of the tenants will not be liable to cover them.

-A joint tenancy agreement holds the entire group as responsible for the property and the collective rent payments.


  • Check the dates and names as well as the landlord's name.


  • Check rent price and liability:

-AGREE ON A PRICE: students come from all different economic backgrounds so make sure that everyone in your group is on board with the price of rent and bills so that no one is pressured into an economic commitment.

-Make sure liability is agreed upon between all tenants and the landlord.

  • Check the tenant obligations:

-Review what you are allowed to do/and not do during the time of your tenancy and make sure everyone agrees.

  • Check for repairs:

-Decide on any agreed repairs you want done before signing a contract e.g., if there is a broken microwave, faulty lighting, wobbly furniture etc, ask your landlord to add repair to these as part of your contract. This will make sure they cannot blame you for any broken items in the future!



Deposits


-Under UK legislation, all deposits taken by landlords must be registered under a government-backed deposit protection scheme within 30 days of the tenant signing the deposit.

-There are only 3 of these schemes in the UK: the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).

-You should receive a deposit certificate from the landlord or agent.

-Check your landlord is part of one of these schemes and has submitted your deposit under one. If your landlord has broken the law, you are entitled to compensation.

  • Holding Deposit:

-This fee cannot be above one week’s rent and the agent must stop advertising the property once you have paid it.

-Do not be rushed into paying one of these or signing a contract. Take your time to decide! If you do want to hold the property, make sure the holding deposit is the right price.


Get yourself an inventory

-An inventory is a checklist of items in the property which the landlord and tenants can add to.

-This ensures that any damages to the property prior to the tenant moving in are made aware to the landlord and avoids disputes over damage made before tenancy.

-You can ask for the landlord to be present whilst inventory is made, with both parties present, it avoids risk of disputes in the future.

-Make sure you check all the details thoroughly before signing.

-Take photos when you move in! This is key to avoiding blame for damage that is not your fault.


Don’t be afraid to ask!


-This may sound like a weird one, but don’t be hesitant to bring up any of your concerns with the agent or landlord!

-Students often feel afraid to bring up any problems with the property when signing an agreement, estate agents and landlords know this and will not be afraid to use it to their advantage!

-So make sure you bring up any of your concerns with the contract and stay informed with your rights as a tenant (See bottom of leaflet for more info).



As a final note, it’s essential that any important communications with your agent/landlord are done in writing (email, text message etc.). So do yourself a favour and make sure its documented, you may need to bring up those emails/texts as proof.

Good luck with your housing endeavours and don’t forget that you can contact the Guild for help reviewing shorthold tenancy agreements and other advice you may need.



Here are some extra resources you can use to further protect and inform yourselves!

https://www.guildofstudents.com/support/guildadvice/advice_direct/housing/

https://www.savethestudent.org/accommodation/tenancy-agreement-checklist.html

https://www.thestayclub.com/blog/a-guide-to-student-tenancy-agreements/

https://www.studenttenant.com/blog/preparing-in-advance-for-deposit-disputes