10 tips for students planning to rent
The Association of Residential Letting Agents and the National Union of Students offer advice to students on renting their first property
Alex Johnson has been part of The Independent's online team since 2007. He has been writing about microarchitecture on his internationally-acclaimed Shedworking blog since 2006 and is the author of Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution. His latest book is Bookshelf, published by Thames & Hudson.
Wednesday 09 January 2013
“Renting with friends at university can be a brilliant experience," says Ian Potter, ARLA’s Managing Director, "and if a few sensible steps are followed, it need not be a stressful process. 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.”
ARLA and the NUS offer these 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, Wales and Scotland. 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 Resolution.
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 budget. 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 them 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 is leaving.
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.
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."
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Life & Style blogs
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 Scottish independence live: Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum - as it happened
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
- 5 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A school in Preston require a S...
£65 - £75 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Due to the high dema...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Eduction are...