Friday, August 24, 2012
Ian Potter, ARLA's Managing Director, said, "Renting with
friends at university can be a brilliant experience and, if a few
sensible steps are followed, it need not be a stressful process.
Approaching renting in a measured way and knowing your priorities
is a good starting point, which will allow you to take into
consideration any additional advice you receive.
"But there are pitfalls, from losing your deposit to falling
foul of unprofessional landlords. That is why it's important for
students to take advantage of the wealth of guidance available when
moving out of halls or home and into private renting. And, as well
as getting advice from your university and lettings professionals,
if you are a younger student it is always wise to keep parents or
guardians in the loop with any decisions, as they may have to
assume a degree of responsibility if something goes
Pete Mercer, NUS Vice President Welfare said, "It's really
important students are fully informed when looking for a place to
rent. An affordable, safe and well-maintained home with a good
landlord not only means less hassle, it ensures you can focus on
your studies, enjoy your social time and have a memorable
experience as a student for all the right reasons.
"We strongly encourage students to take a look at these top
tips and seek other help and advice where they can so
they're as prepared as possible and avoid getting into
ARLA and the NUS are offering the following tips for students
looking to rent their first property at university:
1. The Deposit
Tenants should always ensure that any monies are paid into an
accredited deposit scheme, protected under one of the three
Government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes. This
is a legal requirement in England and Wales, and will be in
Scotland from 2nd July. Typical deposits range from four to eight
weeks rent and, when held in an accredited scheme, any proposed
deductions which cannot be agreed are subject to free Dispute
2. Swot up
Before searching for a property, ensure you speak to other
students or check university advice websites for first-hand
experiences of renting in your preferred area. The amount of
student accommodation available and the average rent charged can
vary significantly depending on location, which could affect your
Many student unions offer free housing or legal advice and
tenancy agreement checking services, so do find out what services
are available to help you.
3. Rent with the experts
There are no restrictions on who becomes a landlord. Therefore
some unscrupulous landlords may unfortunately not have a tenant's
best interests at heart. For peace of mind, be sure to seek advice
from a lettings agent affiliated to a professional organisation
like ARLA. All ARLA agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct,
as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes,
which protect you if things go wrong.
4. Don't ignore the small print
Find out what kind of tenancy agreement you are signing as this
can make a difference to your liability. Many shared tenancies will
have several joint liability clauses - meaning you are responsible
for the actions of your co-tenants for the terms of the tenancy,
and not just the payment of rent. Before you enter such an
agreement consider how well you know your sharers. Even if you all
got on well living in halls, do you know your peers well enough to
agree on how to run a household?
If you do wish to get out of the tenancy during the fixed term,
ensure you take independent advice as to any ongoing liability you
may have. As well as checking this, make a note of the notice
period - even if your landlord knows you are a student, you will
have to give adequate notice (usually a month) at the end of term
when you want to move out.
5. Remember the bills
When working out your budget it is important to factor in other
costs on top of the weekly or monthly rental rate. Utility bills,
TV licence and internet access costs will all need to be factored
in, even if you are sharing the cost with other tenants. In
addition, even if the property you are renting is furnished, it is
worth checking which items of furniture, as well as major utility
products like vacuum cleaner and washing machine, come with the
property to avoid additional spend once you've moved in. Check the
Energy Performance Certificate for the property. The lower the
rating the more power you will use to keep warm in the winter.
Remember if you are looking at a property in the summer it may seem
quite warm, but it is the winter where your bills will be at the
highest and the EPC can be an indicator.
6. Safety and Security
Areas dominated by student accommodation can have
higher-than-average burglary rates so security should always be a
key consideration when looking for a rental home. Check that door
and window locks are in good order. This is especially important
for back doors with poor sight-lines or ground-floor windows. If
there is a burglar alarm, ensure the landlord shows all tenants how
to use it, and that it is working effectively.
Often students will have personal property covered by their
parents' contents insurance, but it is important to check the
specific policy wording. If you aren't covered by your parents'
insurance policy, there are a number of insurance providers which
offer student-specific contents insurance policies. And, if locks
and burglar alarms aren't in good working order, as in the above
point, your policy may be void.
Always ensure you are provided with a comprehensive inventory,
listing the fixtures and fittings within the property, detailing
their condition and that of the property itself. It is also
advisable to take a thorough photographic record of the property's
condition at the start of the tenancy, if not included with the
inventory and schedule of condition. If you disagree with the
condition dispute it at the beginning with your own evidence to
ensure you are protected.
Photos or notes you take should be jointly approved by the
landlord and all tenants, with separate copies retained by both
parties. A well put-together inventory provides useful evidence to
protect both the landlord and tenant in the event of a dispute.
9. Tenants are a tenant's best friend
Ask the current tenants about their time in the property, if you
get the opportunity. They will be well placed to give a frank
assessment of any pros and cons, as well as an honest insight into
any maintenance or repair issues. You may very well get the chance
to meet them when viewing the property, or in fact, may have
identified the property through knowing someone in the group which
10. Know your HMO
If you are planning to rent a property with other tenants, it is
imperative to ensure that the landlord has the relevant Homes in
Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence, as this is a legal requirement
which can differ in certain parts of the country and within areas
of a town or city.
An HMO ensures that a property complies with fire safety
regulations and is correctly set up for multiple occupants.