A large proportion of students move into private rented accommodation after their first year. For many students this is their first time renting, The Advice Unit is here to give you guidance on avoiding some of the pitfalls you may encounter.
Don’t rush when choosing where to live, you need to feel confident in the property and the landlord. Speak to current tenants to find out what it’s really like to live there, foe example how quick the landlord is to respond (if at all) to reports of repair work. Remember, if you’re looking too early in the year, the current occupants won’t be able to give you an accurate picture yet.
Have your contract checked, any reasonable landlord or agent will give you time to get advice on the contract offered. If they put you under pressure, there may be other issues with their practices. Choose an accredited landlord, an accredited landlord has signed up to the AFS/Unipol scheme and will adhere to strict standards of good practice to give you peace of mind. You should also check which national scheme will your landlord use for your deposit, to make sure your money is protected.
Look at both the rent and bills. How much is the rent? What is your budget? Will you have to pay a deposit or rent in advance? What (if any) bills are included? How much are current tenants spending on bills? You should check which type of heating system the property has and if the landlord or a current tenant can provide a cost estimate or example bill. When you consider the cost of living in the property you should consider any additional charges there may be when you
move in or out such as credit references, cleaning, or agency fees.
It is important to check the property both inside and outside. Is the outside of the property in good condition? Are there loose roof tiles, leaking pipes or gutters? Will these problems be repaired before you move in? How do you report repairs as a tenant? Inside you should check for any signs of dampness, condensation or mould on the walls or carpets. Check if there are any signs of pests such as mice, rats or cockroaches.
If there are communal areas such as a garden, entrance hall or
stairwell in the property you check who is responsible for their upkeep or if there are any hidden costs such as paying for cleaning.
Properties may be furnished, fully furnished or part-furnished,
You should check what furniture and appliances are provided and see if they are in good condition. Ask the landlord or agent to provide an inventory when you move in, and take date marked pictures of any damage to avoid disagreements and deposit deductions later on.
It is advisable to see if electrical appliances have been PAT tested (check the sticker on the plug). You can also check if the landlord or agent can show you copies of safety certificates for all gas appliances (by law, all gas appliances must be checked every 12 months).