Leaving your parent’s home and moving away to university is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life. A lot of decisions need to be made before the move, and one of the most important will be your housing. Where you live, how much rent you will pay, and understanding the student accommodation issues before you move in can go a long way to making your experience at university a great one.
Key Ingredients for a Successful Letting Process
All you need is the right information to find the perfect place to live while at school. University life is exciting and a time to grow as a person. Organization skills are a must, and finding your first home will prepare you for classes by gathering your research and applying what you learn in the process. Getting on the right path to find good student letting is as easy as making a list and checking it twice.
Creating a detailed list can help you get organized. Take a few moments and write down your thoughts, then turn them into a list. Think about what you need and incorporate how you envision life while at university.
- Who will reference you? Many students are not employed full-time and have no renting history. These students will need a guarantor to co-sign a tenancy agreement. This is usually the parents or guardian, and they are agreeing to pay any rent you do not pay and also pay for any damages to the property that is over the deposit amount.
- How many people do you want to live with? The number of roommates you have will determine how much you pay for rent and household items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. The more roommates, the more cleaning, and noise.
- Where do you want to live? This depends on what university you will attend. Every school has a list of approved agencies and properties that have been vetted. Ask for a copy of the approved list from Student Housing.
- What kind of tenancy agreement do you need? There are several different tenancy options for housing. You should always sign an agreement with the landlord or letting agent for the property you want.
- Will there be any fees, taxes, or deposits? A deposit protects the landlord in the event the property is damaged while you live there. Most agencies charge extra fees.
These questions are a good start in finding suitable housing. Stop by the university for their list of student letting options. Most properties will have pictures online you can look at to narrow your search. Once you have several properties picked out, you can make an appointment to visit. Scheduling several for one day will allow you to see more than one and pick your top favourites for further investigation. Before you start setting appointments to see properties, be familiar the letting laws and rules.
Rules? Who Needs Rules?
Knowing the terms and regulations for student letting is your responsibility. You’re off to university to live on your own, and making adult decisions is a part of the process of growing up. The rules protect you and give you a way to dispute any problems. If you know what questions to ask and what will be required from you when you talk to an agent, any property management, or the owner will save you headaches in the future.
The Agreement Is Your Friend
Signing an agreement with the landlord protects you. There are several different agreements depending on the type of tenancy and housing you choose. Most universities offer student accommodation (halls) that have shared residences, studio flats for individuals, or rooms. The halls are open for housing for either the term or for the full year. Payment is due at the start of each term. Heat and water are often included.
Private Housing Agreements
Living off campus in a privately owned residence comes with different agreements and accommodations depending on the property, how many people will live there, and who they are. Knowing the different tenancy and types of agreements will help you stay organized during your search for the perfect housing.
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is an agreement that is used when the landlord does not live on the property and no more than three unrelated people have a tenancy. The agreement will ensure you have the right to live on the property for at least six months.
The AST can be either for a short-term or long-term tenancy. With a long-term agreement you can try to negotiate and lower the monthly rent, and you continue letting the property for the full year. Having a long-term agreement means when you return to university at the end of the break, you already have housing, and the landlord isn’t sitting on an empty property while you are not in school.
All tenants who live on the property will sign an agreement.
- Sole tenancy with multiple students – Each person living on the property signs their own agreement for a specific room. If the individual gets evicted or does not pay their rent, it will not affect anyone else living on the property. They are responsible for their own damages.
- Joint Tenancy – All the people living on the property sign a single agreement. The rent for the entire property is split between all the students. Each individual has equal rights to the entire property with equal responsibilities in regards to damages.
- Sole tenancy – You sign an agreement that you will be entirely responsible for all rent and any damages.
Any property used for letting that houses three or more people or if the students will be sharing basic living spaces like the kitchen and the bathroom is considered a house in multiple occupation (HMO). If you plan to live with roommates, make sure the landlord is following the laws for HMO housing. Ask to see their House in Multiple Occupation license. Check to make sure the address is the same as the property, and that it is not expired.
The Lodger Agreement is for students who wish to rent a room in the landlord’s private residence. You will live with your landlord and have access to a private room, the kitchen, and the bathroom. You may have restrictions and limitations to the rest of the property, and you can be evicted at any time.
A deposit will be required from you. By law, the landlord must put the deposit into a Government Authorized Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 30 days of receipt. The landlord must provide all the information about what is covered by the deposit and the details of the scheme. Three different deposit schemes offer free assistance in the event of any disagreement
When it is time to get your deposit back, if there are no damages above normal wear and tear and you don’t owe any rent, you will receive the full deposit back. Failing to return your deposit after you meet the requirements carries stiff penalties for landlords.
The Council Tax
All full-time students are exempt from paying the council tax unless you live with someone who goes to school part-time or is not a student. If anyone living on the property is not full-time, you will have to pay the council tax. Full-time students need to provide the landlord with their student identification number for the tax exemption.
Beware of High Letting Fees
When a landlord uses a letting agent or agency, they can charge fees. Most agencies charge a fee to check credit, hold the space, for renewal, and others. The best thing to do is ask for a detailed copy of what fees they charge and how much the fees are, then compare them with the other properties you are interested in. You can also negotiate some of the fees. The agency is never allowed to charge a fee to show the property.
Before The Big Move
You have followed your list, asked all the right people all the right questions, done your research, and signed all the proper agreements. Once you take possession of the property, do an inventory. Go through the entire living space, including the shared areas and make a note of everything.
Chipped paint in the corner, note it. Dirty oven, make a note. Stains on the carpet, be sure to write it on the inventory. Make a note of everything. Is the space furnished? Note anything wrong with the furniture. Take photos of any damages. You will be held responsible for all the damages you do not report on the inventory when you move out. Be sure the landlord signs and dates the inventory. Keep a copy for yourself, and give a copy to the landlord. You should not be held responsible for damages that have not been repaired from previous tenants.
While you are doing the inventory, make a note of all the readings on the utility meters. This will prevent you from paying for gas, electricity, and water that was not paid by the previous tenant.
The Big Move
Once the big day has finally arrived, and you’re ready to move into your student housing, your new home, your independence, your freedom, you will want to get your utilities turned on and obtain a TV license. Only one TV license is needed for the property, but all tenants can sign the agreement. If you are letting a room, you can obtain your own license. Everyone living on the property can put their name on the utilities, which makes them individually responsible for their share.
Moving away from home to be on your own, making all of the decisions is an exciting time. This means you are an adult. Being an adult comes with responsibilities. When you have visitors, it is your responsibility that they behave themselves. If a visitor damages anything, you will be responsible for paying for it. If you have a party, let your neighbours know and turn the volume down after midnight.
Cleaning is a part of life. It is your responsibility to keep the property clean and livable. If the other students are not cleaning their fair share, have a house meeting and discuss the issues. Discuss how the cost of things like toilet paper, coffee, and paper towels will be divided. Maintaining good communication is the key to success.
Notify the landlord or agency right away if something needs to be repaired. The landlord has responsibilities with providing the students with a safe, place to live with working appliances while in a tenancy. You have responsibilities in maintaining the property as well.
A few of your responsibilities include:
- Cleaning the property.
- Be careful to not damage anything.
- Secure the property when you are not there.
A few of the landlord’s responsibilities:
- Repair and keep in working order the heat and hot water.
- Repair and keep the exterior in good working order.
- Repair and keep the appliances that use gas, electricity, water, and sanitation in good working order.
The landlord or agency has the right to access the property at any time, but they are not allowed to just show up unannounced unless there is an emergency. They must give at least 24 hours notice. If you feel the landlord is abusing their rights to access the property, you can file a complaint with the Student Housing on campus. If you feel you are being harassed, keep a log of each event and contact Student Housing. Call the police if you feel physically or verbally threatened.
Take a look at your list and make sure it is organized with everything you want to ask or look at while at the property. This is going to be your home while at university. Make sure you choose the right housing for your needs by using your list and checking it twice.
Student Lettings in Leeds & Bradford
Priestley Lettings offers student lettings in Leeds City Centre, along with apartments and houses to rent in the surrounding areas with easy access to University. Our Bradford office also provides student lettings in Bradford City Centre along with apartments and houses to rent in the Allerton, Barkerend, Great Horton, Heaton, Thornton, Tong and Wilsden areas.