If you have just received your A-Level results you may be thinking about starting university this autumn? Having secured your course you will need to concentrate on your accommodation in either halls of residence or private rented housing.
This can be daunting for young people living away from home for the first time, but Citizens Advice has produced helpful information on student information on its award-winning self help website Adviceguide.
Living in halls of residence is especially popular with first year students as heating and lighting is included in the rental cost and you do not have to pay council tax.
The university will be your landlord and it has the power to discipline students and even withhold academic qualifications under disciplinary procedures or a code of conduct, for example if rent is owed or anti-social behaviour alleged, so the terms and conditions for renting accommodation should be checked.
Top tips for private renters:
Ask about letting agent’s fees – some, but not all, letting agents charge for services such as credit checks and checking references. Always ask an agent about charges as these can vary greatly.
Read your tenancy agreement carefully – make sure you read and understand the tenancy agreement before you sign it. Ask questions if anything is unclear.
Know about tenancy deposit protection – if you are 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 information about the scheme.
Do you have a guarantor? Landlords often ask for a guarantor, which is a third party, such as a parent, who agrees to pay your rent if you do not. 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. Check the guarantee agreement as you may be able to negotiate so that your guarantor is only liable for your rent payments.
Make sure you have an inventory – this is a list of everything provided in your home. It can help prevent disputes about the deposit at the end of the tenancy. If your landlord provides an inventory, check it 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 are 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 share with people you can trust and 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.