The housing charity is urging students to follow its top 10 tips to ensure a smooth renting experience

Landlords are taking advantage of first-time student renters and are withholding deposits unfairly, not carrying out repairs, and entering properties without notice, according to a new poll.

Housing charity Shelter teamed-up with YouGov to survey almost 5,000 people to find students are finding renting difficult, in terms of affordability, poor conditions, and a lack of bargaining power with landlords.

Full-time students were around twice as likely to have experienced a landlord or agent entering their home without permission – when compared with non-students – and 41 per cent of student renters said they were forced to borrow money from their parents in order to meet monthly rental payments in the last year.

Another third admitted to having used up their savings to meet rent payments in the last year, and a staggering 71 per cent of students said they had experienced at least one of a range of property and repair issues over the same period – 38 per cent revealed they had experienced three or more.

Common problems faced by the young people were damp, trip and fire hazards, and was significantly higher among students than other renters, the charity said.

Shelter’s director of services, Alison Mohammed, described how England’s eleven million renters are not only paying out most of their income on rent, but are also often forced to endure instability and poor conditions. As first-time renters with less experience, students are especially vulnerable, she said.

Ms Mohammed added: “At Shelter, we all too often hear from students dealing with issues like unprotected deposits and unfair terms in tenancy agreements, as well as poor conditions and high letting agent fees.

“Thousands of students struggling with housing problems have come to Shelter for help in the last year alone. We’d urge any first-time renters to read up on how to escape common pitfalls, and seek advice early if they start having difficulties by visiting our website.”

Shelter’s top ten tips for first-time student renters:

1) Don’t pay letting agents to register

They shouldn’t charge any fees just for you to register with them. Fees can only be charged for services such as credit reference checks when they’ve found you a place.

2) Be sure it’s safe

Check the gas safety certificate before you move in.

3) Check that your deposit will be protected

Landlords must protect your deposit within 30 days after they’ve received it, and must give you full details of which scheme is protecting it and how you can get it back. Use Shelter’s handy deposit checker tool to make sure yours has been protected – it just takes three minutes.

4) Make sure the inventory is accurate

When you move in, check and agree the list of contents in the property and any existing damage with the landlord or agent. This is the best way to avoid disputes later on.

5) Know your own responsibilities

Renters have obligations too. Your duties as a renter include paying rent and bills on time and to make sure your neighbours are not disturbed.

6) Moving in with a mate?

Signing a joint tenancy with your housemates or having individual tenancy agreements with the landlord can have a big impact on your rights. Check that you understand the agreement you have.

7) Landlord wants to increase the rent?

Your landlord can increase the rent, but only at certain times or if they are offering you a new agreement, depending on what type of tenancy you have. Check what tenancy type you have on this tenancy checker.

8) If the boiler breaks, who should fix it?

Landlords are responsible for most repairs. If your landlord refuses to carry out repairs, get some advice from an organisation like Shelter. Never withhold your rent as a bargaining tool – that could give your landlord grounds to evict you.

9) Ready to leave?

Unless you are leaving at the end of a fixed-term agreement, you need to give the correct notice period to end your tenancy agreement when you decide to move out. Not ending the tenancy properly could mean you have to carry on paying the rent – even after you’ve moved out.

Equally, if your landlord asks you to move out, they need to follow the correct eviction procedure, unless you agree to move out on a certain day.

10) Can’t get your deposit back?

Check first if your deposit was protected. If it was, then use the mediation service available. If it wasn’t, however, once your tenancy ends, you could take the landlord to court and ask the court to order the landlord to return your deposit and pay a penalty for non-protection of one to three times the amount of the deposit.

For more information and advice on housing, visit the Shelter site, or call the free helpline on 0808 800 4444

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