A Student Property Guide: Part Two
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE VIEWINGS
So, you have found your future home?! Before you do anything else, ask yourself the following questions
- Are you happy with your housemates?
- Are you happy with the location?
- Are you happy with the property details?
If you are confident that the answer to all of the above is yes then it’s time to get excited. You are ready to make the first few payments and sign the important documents.
But before that happens, here’s what you should know about the process of renting your first student house
Paying your agency fees covers the cost of; reserving the property, drawing up tenancy agreements , inventories, references, and other administration costs.
Like most things, the price of agency fees with vary from place to place. However, to comply with the law, letting agents must now publish full details of the fees they are charging.
- If you are ever in doubt about what you are being asked to pay then request a breakdown of prices
Fighting unfair fees
Ask for as much information as possible from your landlord or letting agent before signing an agreement. Even if you don’t end up reading through it, you have it there for reference
Things to ask include;
- What service is provided?
- A full list of fees that it charges
- The professional association scheme used
- Information about the tenancy deposit scheme used
A third party or adult relative responsible for guaranteeing your rent payments, should you not make them.
- Keep your guarantor aware of the payments you are scheduled to make throughout term time
- If you end up short on cash at least they are aware of what costs they are expected to cover
- There are websites that international students can use to secure a UK guarantor
The deposit is a required condition of letting accommodation. It acts as security towards unpaid rent or significant damage and it usually equates to 4-6 weeks of rent.
We were once students so we can appreciate the fact this is a HUGE sum of money to depart with so early in the term. But, if your property is kept ‘ship-shape’ then you can expect this back at the end of your tenancy, just in time for summer!
Likely reasons to not get your deposit back;
- Delayed rent payments or unpaid rent
- Damage to the property
- Lost/stolen/damaged items from the inventory – kettle, toaster, microwave etc
Getting your deposit back;
- You should get your deposit back within 10 days of leaving the property, and if you have an agreed amount
- Take photos of the house when you first move in and send them to your landlord or letting agent
- Making pre-existing damage known saves you the hassle of proving it’s not your damage come the end of your tenancy
- Keep all correspondence between tenants and landlord – this can be referred back to if their is a disagreement surrounding legal documents
- Leave the property exactly how you found it (or cleaner)
Tenancy deposit protection
A protection scheme MUST be used to safeguard your money, especially if your tenancy is an assured short-hold. This will ensure your full deposit is returned as long as you meet the terms of tenancy, do not cause any damages and pay your rent and bills.
Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days.
Most landlords and letting agents use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement – this is a fixed term of 12 months with a start date and an end date.
- You are liable to pay rent for the full 12 months
- Over summer months it is not unheard of to be offered half-rent (July and August) whilst no one is residing in the property
- It is expected that full rent will be continued when you move in
Your contract is a legally binding document, you can’t change your mind once the contract has been signed.
In some cases you will be allowed to back out of a contract if a suitable replacement is found for the tenancy. Backing out of a housing contract with no replacement can leave your friends in a sticky situation. Without a replacement they will have to cover any rent that goes unpaid, so make sure you are truly happy with your housemates before moving in to avoid this situation.
There may be parts of the contract that you are not happy with. If this is the case, make it known before signing anything so it can be rectified.
Remember, this is a binding contract, and whilst you are going to have fun in the house you need to remember the legal side. As a tenant you must pay your agreed rent every month; take care not to cause damage; daily property maintenance; let your landlord know if any problems occur.
Your landlord also has responsibilities… they must leave you to enjoy the property, only entering the premises with permission or 24 hours notice e.g. viewings, inspections
As much as we love students, they are known to be quite careless when it comes to accommodation. In areas heavily populated with students, it is common to find doors left unlocked which encourages theft in the area. Hosting house parties also leaves you at risk of theft and unwanted property damage. Make sure guests are respectful when they visit the property, but enjoy your time there for those short 12 months of tenancy.
Yes, you are an adult now, which means you have to pay your own bills (*sigh*). Bills need to be budgeted for, or you will be scraping your pockets at the end of the month to pay for electricity.
It is more common for landlords to exclude bills from monthly rent charges, they leave it to you to sort out. If this is the case you and your housemates should work out an estimated monthly cost of gas, electricity and water bills.
We would also recommend opening a joint bank account for the house. This way you can keep track of who has paid what and who owes what. You can chuck in some extra money and use this to pay household necessities, such as toiletries.