Have you just received your A-level results and are planning to start university this autumn? If so, you’re likely to be one of the many students who will soon be moving into halls of residence or private rented accommodation for the first time.
Moving away from home can be quite daunting, so it’s useful to know what to expect before you move.
And here are a few top tips for private renters:
- Ask about letting agent’s fees– letting agents often charge for things like credit checks and checking references. Always ask an agent to give you information on what it charges for. Not all agents make additional charges, and the amounts they do charge can vary.
- Read your tenancy agreement carefully– make sure you read and understand the tenancy agreement before you sign it. If there’s something that you’re not clear on, ask about it.
- Know about tenancy deposit protection– if you’re starting an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord or the letting agent must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme to safeguard your deposit. They have to do this within 30 days of receiving the deposit and give you certain information about the deposit and the scheme they’ve used.
- Do you have a guarantor?– landlords often ask students for a guarantor, which is a third party, such as a parent, who agrees to pay your rent if you don’t pay it. If you share accommodation under a joint tenancy agreement, it’s common for the guarantee to apply to all of the rent, and not just your share. It’s best to check the guarantee agreement carefully. You may be able to negotiate a change so that your guarantor is only liable for your rent payments.
- Make sure you have an inventory– an inventory is a list of everything that’s provided in your home. Having one can help prevent disputes about the deposit at the end of the tenancy. If your landlord provides an inventory, check it carefully before signing it. If your landlord doesn’t provide one, draw one up yourself and ask the landlord or an independent witness to sign it.
- Sharing with others – if you’re sharing accommodation with other students, make sure you know how the tenancy is arranged. If you have a joint tenancy, all of you will be jointly and individually responsible for the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. This means if one of the sharers doesn’t pay their share of the rent, the rest of you could be responsible for making up the shortfall. So it’s a good idea to share with people you can trust and to make sure rent is paid on time.
- Keep good records – always make a note of any repairs that you have to report and what your landlord did in response. Keep proof of your rent payments and proof that other household bills have been paid.
This advice has been written from the perspective of English law.
For help from Salford Citizens Advice visit your local bureau in Eccles, Irlam and Cadishead, Salford City, Swinton, Walkden or at Salford Royal.
Telephone our advice line: 0844 826 9695 (if calling from a landline or if calling from a mobile 0300 456 2554).
To find out where the local Citizens Advice service in your new town is check www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
Most universities have student advice centres which will have much more local knowledge of your new area.