GAS SAFETY AND ELECTRICAL CERTIFICATES
Ask to see a valid Gas Safety Certificate and evidence of recent inspection by a qualified electrician. Badly fitted gas appliances or electrics can be deadly, causing fire, explosion and death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Don’t take chances - your life may depend on this.
Read the contract carefully before signing. If you have any doubts, your Students’ Union will go through it with you. The contract will include the address of the property, the landlord and tenants’ names, relevant contact details, rental amount and date on which it is due. You might agree with a landlord that they will repair something before you move in – make sure this is added to the contract before you sign. The most common type of contract for students is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), including the names of all tenants which will be held “jointly and severally liable”. This means that if one housemate leaves the house, the others are still responsible for paying that person’s rent; you are all legally responsible for all of the rent, not just your own. Parents will also be asked to act as guarantors and accept legal and financial responsibility should you fail to pay your rent.
Holding fee - You may need to pay a deposit to reserve the property. This is refundable but reasonable costs can be deducted. Make sure that you understand the cost and terms of this and have details recorded for the end of the tenancy. Agency charges - Letting agents may charge you for their service. Fees vary and should be transparent. Ask for details of all fees that will or could be incurred. Deposit - You will need to pay a deposit, which will be approximately six weeks’ rent. Your landlord is required by law to register the deposit with a government approved scheme within 30 days of you paying it. They must also give you the details of where the money is being held. Find our more here: www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm. The deposit is refundable unless you have damaged the house or it’s contents. Make sure an inventory is completed and take dated photos of damage before you move in. Get the agent to date and sign copies of the photos - this could save your deposit at the end of the tenancy!
HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (HMO)
Details of HMO licences vary according to local authority, search HMO licence and your town to find out what is needed in your area. Without a licence the property may not be safe or have enough working smoke alarms and fire escapes.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH THE HOUSE?
All letting agents are required to sign up to a property redress scheme. ARLA Licensed members will belong to either The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property or the Property Redress Scheme. Membership means that if you have a dispute with your landlord, the case can be referred to a neutral expert for independent redress - note which scheme your agent is signed up to.
PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY (CLIENT MONEY PROTECTION)
All ARLA Licensed agents have to pay into a Client Money Protection scheme. This is one of several additional measures that agents have to satisfy in order to become an ARLA Licensed member.
FILL IN THE INVENTORY
Be prepared to make notes on the inventory, from small carpet holes to marks on walls. Get these amends agreed and keep a dated copy signed by the agent. If you don’t, expect to lose your deposit!
CHANGE UTILITIES TO YOUR NAME AND BANK DETAILS, READ THE METERS
Read your gas and electricity meters when you first move in, notify the utility companies of the change - give them the meter reading, your move in date and ideally the names of all the tenants. This ensures that you share responsibility for the payments.
BUY A TV LICENCE
If you have a television in your house then you need to buy a TV licence, more information can be found here: www.tvlicensing.co.uk
According to moneysupermarket.com, one in three university students are victims of crime each year. Gadgets such as laptops are essential for university life, so it is important to get insurance cover. Some students may be covered by their parents’ contents policy however don’t assume this is the case.
It is recommended that you contact your letting agent a month prior to your moving out date. They will be able to guide you through the process and suggest what action to take in order to reclaim your deposit. Make sure you leave the property in the same condition as the day you arrived. Club together to pay for a cleaner especially if you don’t have time to do this yourselves.