Student Housing – What you need to know:

You may have received your A-level results and are planning to start university this autumn. Or you may be returning to study after your summer break. 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.

If you're going to be moving into private rented accommodation, there's quite a lot to get to grips with, so here are a few tips to help you along the way.

  • Ask about letting agent's fees - If you're using a letting agent to help you find accommodation, be aware that they often charge for things. Since June 1, 2019 letting agents can only charge for certain things, these include: rent or utility bills, a damage deposit, a holding deposit, replacing your key, paying your rent 14 days late or more, changing the tenancy (only if you asked for the change), ending the tenancy early, council tax, a TV licence.
  •  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 that 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 government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme to safeguard your deposit. They have to do this within 30 days of receiving your deposit and provide you with 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 with others 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. It may be possible to negotiate a variation so that liability is confined to only your rent payments.
  • Make sure you have an inventory - An inventory is a list of everything that's provided in your home. Having an inventory 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 sign 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.
  • Ask your local Student’s Union for Advice – your students’ union advice service will know the local student housing market, and may have warnings about problem landlords.

 

For more details of our service visit our website at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Tom Togher.