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Rental Survival Guide for Students

Here at Leaseguard we realise that not all students have the opportunity to live in University Residences and so we have put together this guide to renting to assist you in finding safe and affordable accommodation.

University life is expensive! After paying all your necessary costs and ensuring you have enough money left over for books and a decent social life, you may be tempted to cut costs and settle for the cheapest accommodation you can find. However, there are some unscrupulous Landlords out there who are looking to cash in on the student market and do not adhere to what the law requires of them as a Landlord.

"Competition for suitable student lets can be quite tough in University towns. Parents and students should be prepared to shop around for a property in a safe location with an interior which is acceptable and is value for money" says Mairi Scott, Managing director of Leaseguard who are risk management specialists for the rental sector.

Some Landlords will buy large houses with lots of rooms, hoping to fill them up with students. If the property is to be shared by more than two (unrelated) individuals, ask the Landlord if you can see his HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) licence. These licences are in place to ensure that the property adheres to strict safety standards and has all the amenities a large group of people living together will need. These licenses are awarded by the local authority and they should have a record of Landlords and properties that have these licences. If you are living in such a residence without an HMO and the council discovers this then you may be evicted and left homeless.

It is also important to ensure that gas appliances are inspected annually by a Gas Safe registered firm and that all electrical equipment supplied by the Landlord (a kettle, a microwave etc) are checked by a qualified electrician. Ask your prospective Landlord to see a copy of records to prove that they meet these legal requirements - any Landlord worth their salt will have no problem in allowing you to view these records. If they do not want to show you these records please reconsider your interest in this property. It is also the Landlord's responsibility to ensure that any furniture they provide is fire resistant.

If you are satisfied with the safety and condition of the property be sure to read the lease carefully, ensuring to check for:

  • The rent - is it the same as advertised or as you were quoted on the phone?
  • The payment date
  • The period of the lease
  • The deposit required (normally equivalent to one month's rent in advance).

To ensure that there is a record of your rental payments it is best to pay by direct debit. If you are paying by cash, ask for receipts. This enables you to keep track of your outgoings and provides evidence of payments if there are ever any queries.

Many Landlords or Letting Agents will issue you with an inventory of all the furniture and appliances in the property and will ask you to sign and date it. If not, make an inventory yourself and ensure that the Landlord or Letting Agent signs and dates it. This gives you protection when you move out and will reduce the risk of losing your deposit. It is also wise to note the condition of things such as the fixtures and fittings (e.g. a stain on the carpet) so that it cannot be blamed on you when it is time to leave.

How can I tell if I have a good landlord or letting agent? For added protection consider if they:

  • They are a registered with the Property Ombudsman;
  • They are a member of recognised Trade body;
  • Have registered the property under the Landlord Registration scheme (only applies in Scotland);
  • Have signed up with the Information Commissioner to protect your personal data;
  • Have Professional Indemnity insurance.

You may also be asked to provide a Guarantor. Mairi Scott advises "Many Landlords expect a guarantor if rent for the period of the tenancy is not paid up front which means the person may need to undergo a credit check and have an employers reference taken up." Any person who has been made a guarantor should always be aware of the responsibilities of the role, such as being responsible for any outstanding rent and being joint and severally liable for all those named on the lease.

When moving into the property count up how much your personal belongings are worth; your laptop, your MP3 player, your clothes, your books, your musical instruments and other belongings. In the case of a flood, theft or other disaster could you afford to replace everything? Chances are you will be covered by your parents' home insurance policy but if not give Leaseguard a call and we will happily arrange a Tenants Contents Insurance policy for you. It may seem like an unwelcome cost, but have you considered the cost of not being covered?

When leaving the property ensure that everything is left in the same condition as when you first moved in (this is where the inventory comes in handy!) to ensure that you get your deposit back. Also ensure that you have forwarded all your mail to your new address as uncollected mail is often used as a means of identity theft.

You may have certain expectations of your Landlord but also be aware that he has expectations of you; paying your rent on time, keeping his property in good condition etc.

You are now armed with the information you need to ensure you get a great property this academic year!

 

 


Posted By Admin on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Type: Blog