Starting University? Renting for the first time?


George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the young. Being young can bring its own challenges however. You may have just received your A-level results and are planning to start university this autumn. If so you might be faced with the issue of where to live.
If you’re going to be moving into private rented accommodation,
• Be aware that letting agents often charge for things like credit checks and checking references.
• Read your tenancy agreement carefully before you sign it.
• If you’re starting an assured shorthold tenancy, check that your landlord or the letting agent uses a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme to safeguard your deposit (this is a legal requirement).
• Make sure you have an inventory, that is a list of everything that’s provided in your accommodation. 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.
• If you’re sharing accommodation with other students, and 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. The same applies to any Guarantors who will be required to pay the rent if you fail to do so
• 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
If you are in University Student housing, there are other issues to take into account.
1. Students aren’t always aware that they enter into a legal contract when they sign a tenancy or licence agreement for a Hall of Residence
2. Universities have more powers as landlords than their opposite numbers in the private rented sector. For example, a student who behaved anti-socially in their Halls of Residence by deliberately setting off a fire alarm, could be fined or face some other penalty under the code of conduct or disciplinary procedure. A private landlord could not do that for a similar incident in private rented accommodation unless the tenant had breached a term in their tenancy agreement.
3. If you find yourself in the unhappy position of being evicted from your accommodation by a University, consider whether the university as your landlord has acted proportionately, and if you’ve had the opportunity to give your version of events before the landlord reached its decision.
4. In some cases, if you still owe the university rent at the end of the academic year, it may not allow you to progress to the next year of your course or to receive exam results or graduate if it’s your final year.
5. If you have a fixed term agreement for halls of residence, you generally have to move out on the day that the fixed term agreement runs out without having to give notice to your landlord. This is because the agreement between you and your landlord ends when the fixed term ends.
6. If you want to leave your Halls of Residence early a term in your agreement, known as a break clause allows you to end the agreement and defines the notice period you will be required to provide. Alternatively, your landlord might agree to end the agreement early, which is known as surrender. If you leave before the end of the fixed term without your landlord’s consent, you are liable to pay the rent until the fixed term ends even if you aren’t living there.
7. If you paid a deposit at the beginning of your tenancy or licence, it should be returned to you. The codes that universities sign up to say that deposits should be returned within 28 days of your agreement ending. It’s reasonable for your landlord to take money off the deposit to cover some things. For example, damage to the property or furniture or outstanding rent that you owe. Your landlord should not deduct money to cover damage that could be regarded as fair wear and tear.

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