With the university term now in full swing, many students will be looking ahead to secure their rental property for next year over the coming months. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has put together some tenant tips for first time freshers…
Most students won’t have ever dealt with a letting agent before, and while many universities offer services to help students with their property search, there are several things to consider that can help tenants find a suitable home for their time at university.
The President of ARLA, Nik Madan, says: “Renting with friends at university can be a fantastic experience, and one most university students won’t have had before. There is a lot of help available for student renters, so it’s important to seek this out if you fall into problems.
“Additionally, there are several steps students should follow as standard when looking for a property. First and foremost, it can be stressful if you’re not dealing with a good letting agent – using an ARLA agent means you’re in good hands, as they have to adhere to the highest professional standards.”
Students looking to rent a property at university should follow these tenant tips from ARLA to guarantee a positive experience:
Find the right agent
Before you start your property search, choose the correct letting agent. One way to ensure peace of mind is to register your search with an ARLA agent.
When you’ve found an agent, you should not feel pressured into handing over money straight away, and remember that rents are negotiable. If possible, try to speak to the current tenants about their experience of living in the property.
Understand the fees
You should receive a full list of costs and fees from your letting agent before you pay anything, so that you know exactly what you’re paying for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it can be daunting when given a long list of different fees, but the agent is there to explain them all.
Know where your deposit is going
Before you move in, you will likely be required to pay a deposit, which is typically around six weeks’ rent (although it can be more or less). Your deposit must be protected in one of three Government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes, so make sure that your agent gives you evidence of this. If you do not receive the full details, ask your letting agent for the information as soon as possible.
You must also be given a copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide and should be asked to provide ID to prove that you have the right to rent in the UK.
Don’t forget about bills
You must remember to factor in additional bills into your weekly or monthly rental costs when working out your budget. Unless your tenancy agreement states that water, gas and electric costs are included in the rent, you are jointly responsible (with the rest of your housemates) for paying these bills separately to the providers. You should take meter readings at the start of the tenancy and regularly throughout the contract term, to ensure that you’re only paying for what you use.
While students aren’t required to pay Council Tax, if you live with any non-students, they will be responsible for paying it.
A TV license is also an important cost to factor in. Paying a monthly amount is an easy way to make your payments more manageable and avoid the annual lump sum.
It is important to make sure that your letting agent or landlord has compiled a comprehensive inventory before you move in. The document should state exactly what condition the property is in and list all of the fixtures and furniture that comes with the property. This makes it clear what belongs to the landlord and what belongs to you. A good inventory will also help to avoid deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy.
Keep the property clean
Cleaning your property regularly and maintaining the garden will help to avoid deposit deductions when the tenancy comes to an end. Don’t be afraid of reporting any repair issues throughout the tenancy – if something breaks, tell your agent. It will make your life easier and more comfortable if things are back in order quickly.
You must return the property in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy. Nothing should be left in or outside the property that wasn’t there when you moved in. Also, be aware that properties left in a poor state of cleanliness and unkempt gardens are the main causes of disputes over deposits.
Your deposit should be returned promptly with any deductions for broken items, damage or bills for cleaning. If your landlord challenges the amount to be given back to you, you can always take advantage of the free and impartial dispute resolution service provided by the scheme your deposit was protected with.
Landlords, do you rent properties to students? Pass on these tenant tips for a mutually beneficial tenancy!