Student renters should do their homework
As the first university term comes to an end, many students are already looking to secure next year’s rental accommodation.
And they are being urged to tread carefully by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), to ensure they don’t fall foul of any potential rent problems. The trade body has said that renting a property can be a minefield, and there are several important things to consider to ensure it’s a stress-free experience; from searching for a property to rent right through to leaving it at the end of the year.
Peter Savage, president of ARLA, explained: “Renting with friends at university is an exciting time for students and is a completely new experience for most. There is a lot of help available to student renters so it’s important to seek this out if you fall into problems; and there are steps every student renter should follow as standard.”
Students looking to privately rent a property at university should follow ARLA’s top tips below:
Looking for a property
Picking the correct letting agent for your search is an important starting point. One way of staving off any problems before, during or after your tenancy is to register your search with ARLA Licenced agents – all of whom adhere to a strict code of conduct.
You are entitled to receive a full list of costs from your letting agent so you know exactly what you are paying for. It can sometimes seem that there are many different costs, so ensure you are aware exactly what everything is and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Your deposit must be protected in one of the three Government-authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes. You must be given a certificate to say who is protecting your deposit and information about the scheme; so make sure to ask your letting agent about this if they do not provide the full details. You must also be given a copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide and will be asked to provide ID to demonstrate you have the right to live in the UK.
It pays to know exactly what state the property was in, and what furniture was and wasn’t included in the agreement, in order to protect yourself at the end of the rental agreement. Conducting an inventory will help you avoid any unfair costs at the end of your tenancy – you and your landlord should each have an agreed signed copy of this.
Unless your contract states that water, gas and electricity costs are included in the rent, tenants are jointly responsible for paying these. Take meter readings at the start of the tenancy and regularly throughout the year to ensure you’re paying for what you use. For those whose landlords factor the bills into the rent, you can ask for a breakdown of each added cost to ensure your landlord is not overcharging in their favour – this is illegal.
Maintaining the property
Regularly cleaning your property and maintaining the garden can help to avoid bills at the end of your tenancy. And don’t be scared of reporting any repair issues. If something breaks in the property or a water pipe starts leaking, tell your agent. Getting your property back into working order quickly makes life easier and more pleasant for you – and cheaper for your landlord.
Leave your property in a good condition
Make sure you leave the property clean and as you received it when you moved in. Nothing should be left in the property that wasn’t there when you arrived and don’t forget to do the garden. Properties left in a poor state of cleanliness and unkempt gardens are the main reasons why tenants have money deducted from their deposits.
Any damage to the property made before you move in should be recorded properly in the inventory, so you don’t end up in a dispute with your landlord over damage caused before you moved in. Your deposit should be returned promptly and if there is a dispute with your landlord, remember you can always take advantage of the free, impartial, dispute resolution procedures provided by the scheme your deposit was protected through.