Renting your student accommodation from a private landlord next term? Read our top tips
Navigating private rental properties for the first time can be scary.
From the relative comfort of Halls, you’re suddenly faced with a lot more responsibility and a house that sometimes feels like it’s crumbling around you.
Here are a few easy steps to navigating the world of student lettings.
Choose your housemates
Yes, your best friend may be the life and soul at predrinks, but will they ever do the dishes?
At the end of the tenancy, all of you will be collectively responsible for the state of the house.
That means if your friend leaves their room like a pig sty, you’ll be the one cleaning it in order to hold on to your deposit.
Make sure your future housemates are reliable. If they fall behind on the rent then that’s your problem too.
All housemates are jointly and individually responsible for paying the whole rent.
If they drop out of uni and leave before the end of the tenancy, you may be required to find a replacement or make up their rent yourselves if they stop paying it.
Rent for students can also reach astronomic levels – make sure you’re all looking to spend around the same amount and agree exactly what you want from your new home.
"I'm a student. Should I get a student credit card?" Find out here.
Read your contract
Landlords are fearsome creatures – don’t let them slip unreasonable terms into your contract.
Some contracts prohibit smoking, put limits on the number of guests allowed in the house and even ban Blu Tack on the walls.
If any of this is going to be a problem, you might want to look elsewhere.
Some contracts are also chock full of hidden fees. Long lists of charges for minor damage should be a massive turn-off.
Read the small print – there may be fixed cleaning fees at the end of the tenancy regardless of the state you leave the house in.
A lot of student unions provide a free service for checking over contracts and making sure you’re not being taken advantage of.
This is a legally binding agreement – make sure you know what you’re signing!
When you move in
A few easy steps when you move into your student rental can save weeks of heartache in the long run.
Make sure you take comprehensive pictures of the state of the house.
At the end of the tenancy you’re required to return it to the state you found it in. This isn’t likely to be perfect.
You’ll be all too aware that students scuff walls and leave stains on carpets – don’t let the landlord blame you for the sins of previous tenants.
Check the items in the house against the inventory. Otherwise you might get blamed for anything missing at the end of the tenancy.
During the tenancy
Persistent Wi-Fi drop-outs, dying washing machines and leaking taps can all plague student residences.
Luckily for you it’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix all but very minor repairs (like changing a fuse).
Make sure you let the landlord know about any problems as soon as possible.
If the repair is an emergency (a major leak or the boiler breaking), then the landlord has to fix the problem within 24 hours of you telling him about it.
If the problem is only urgent (problems with appliances for instance), then the landlord has four days to deal with it.
The landlord also has to give you 24 hours’ notice if he plans to visit the property.
This also applies to house viewings – your home can’t be invaded by First Years without due notice.
Things to avoid
Now for the scary bit: there are a number of reasons a landlord can evict you, but all are easily avoidable.
If you’re two months late for your rent or are consistently late with making payments, you could be sent packing.
Anti-social behaviour can also get you evicted, so you might want to reign in some of those late night parties and make nice with the neighbours.
Illegal activities and allowing the property to fall into an unacceptable state are also a no-no.
So yes, maybe hosting house parties isn’t such a good idea.
Click here to find out all you need to know about home contents insurance for students.
Time to leave
You’re not going to want to spend days cleaning when you’re about to say goodbye to your friends for the summer, but there is the matter of that deposit.
To avoid losing your money, you’re going to have to make sure that the house is returned to the state it was before you started the tenancy.
This is where those pre-tenancy pictures might come in handy.
If you’ve chipped the wall or taken the paint off with Blu Tack, a DIY paint job over the marks might be worth it.
Otherwise the landlord could use your money to pay a professional to paint the whole room.
Landlords are legally obliged to put your deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme.
That means they can’t touch the money until you reach an agreement over any deposit reductions.
Don’t be afraid to challenge the landlord over any deductions, especially if you have evidence that backs up your case.
If any damage does need to be replaced, make sure you ask the landlord to provide receipts for repairs or replacements to make sure you’re not being ripped off.
Now you’re ready to painlessly navigate the world of student lettings!