After a challenging first college year, you can finally relax and catch your breath. It’s time to move out of student halls and find your first student apartment. There are thousands of available options in the market for students to rent. These options include recently renovated houses, properties with a backyard, double bedroom apartments, etc. Although all this sounds incredible, there are many other things to consider before renting an apartment.
Regardless if you’ve decided to live alone, with your mates, or with strangers, the responsibility of renting a place can feel quite daunting, especially if you aren’t familiar with your rights and obligations. Luckily, the National Union of Students (NUS) offers plenty of resources, information, and handy advice on their new website. All of this helps students understand their obligations and rights, as well as the policies that might affect them.
Moving into the private rented sector is not easy at first as there are numerous things you need to follow up on to ensure yourself a secure tenancy. Make sure to consider all these things before you make your final decision about renting a place:
1. What’s The Overall State Of The Place?
Before you move into your new place, your landlord needs to provide you with a detailed inventory of the entire property. This list must cover each room, furniture, fittings, and it should state the overall condition they’re in. In case you didn’t get the list, create it by yourself, and send it to your landlord or your NorthPoint agent. If you aren’t happy with the inventory you’ve got, make sure to challenge it right away by including all the evidence of your claims. Creating photographs to back up your claims is an excellent method. Sending a copy to your landlord or agent is a must, but keep a copy for yourself as well.
2. Always Review The Property Upfront
It’s of vital importance to view the property before deciding to book it. It often happens that students book properties without seeing them, and when the property is in bad shape, more problems can occur. Therefore, make sure that you actually attend the property and check it thoroughly before deciding to book it. If, for any reason, you’re not able to attend the arranged viewing of student property, find an appropriate alternative like a Skype viewing or at least several extensive photos that’ll help you make an informed decision.
Additionally, asking your parents to go on a property viewing is also an excellent idea since they most probably have rich experience from the period when they were students. They’ll know what to look for and which important details you should pay attention to.
Even if you feel like you’ve found the right place for yourself, always view several places before you make your final decision. An excellent comparable example would be your average shopping experience. When you’re buying clothes, you don’t just take the first pair of jeans you see and buy them straight away; you’d try at least a couple of them before deciding which ones you’ll buy. So why make quick decisions when looking for a house to rent? It’s advisable always to compare the properties you’ve seen before you can finally decide which one to rent. Make sure to compare the rent costs, property’s location, vicinity to transport routes, etc
3. Look For Rodents, Damp, And Other Issues
Student houses can sometimes be bleak. They must be at least hygienic and secure to live in. In case you don’t know how to see if there’s faulty wiring or damp in the walls, make sure you learn about how to spot these issues before you go to see the place.
You shouldn’t be ashamed of asking your parents to come along and help you take a look since they most probably have more experience with such things than you do. Take your time, and check the property very thoroughly. Moreover, if the landlord is pushing you to sign for a quick deal, he’s most probably hiding something.
5. Review The Contract Carefully
Tenancy contracts can be quite long and confusing with all the legal jargon found in them. Although it’s tempting to skip right to the end and sign the contract, it’s advisable to learn everything you can from it before signing. All contracts are legally binding documents, and it allows you to mandate your landlord to do certain things, like fixing broken appliances, before you sign the contract. Find someone to help you understand the contract better since you’d want to avoid any potential loopholes. It’s possible that you can acquire this service from the student’s union at your university or college.
7. Learn All About The Deposit
Although there are other college costs, keep in mind that you’ll most probably need to pay a security deposit before moving in. The deposits are usually worth six weeks’ rent but, in some cases, can be lower or even higher. The deposit will be withheld until your contract ends if there’s any damage made to the property or if any payments were overdue.
Ensuring that your landlord or estate agent has shown you evidence of putting your deposit in a protected scheme is required. This gives you the right to challenge your landlord in case he deducts much higher charges at the end of your tenancy contract.
8. Learn About Your Landlord’s Accreditation
Some landlords have more than one property specifically for lending it to students. However, some landlords are trying to rip students off. Many students’ unions and local authorities run best practice schemes that include all landlords who have agreed to sign up for a code of conduct. Make sure to check your landlord’s accreditation online. Moreover, students’ unions can also have their non-profit lettings agent, which works only with vetted landlords.
9. Learn Everything About Eviction Rules
Upon signing the tenancy agreement, your landlord can’t evict you from your new home without following a very straightforward set of procedures or without going to court. Additionally, if you’ve signed a fixed-term contract with a fixed rent price, your landlord can’t raise your rent until the contract expires. Read your tenancy contract’s fine print carefully to see if there’s anything else you need to know about the eviction rules.
10. Join An Activist Network Or Tenants’ Union
Local areas usually have private tenants’ organized groups working together on various issues, but they also offer support and advice. Learn if there’s a tenants’ association, union, or any other group that can come in handy during your tenancy period, and make sure you join it. These groups can be beneficial and meaningful, especially if you’ve become a tenant for the first time, and tenancy life is something entirely new for you.
11. Home Security Is Of Vital Importance
Student-populated areas are very popular among burglars. Therefore, ensure that the home you’re about to rent has appropriate security. See if the property has working locks on all windows and doors, as well as a functioning burglar alarm. Additionally, make sure to learn if there’s an active neighbourhood-watch group.
The security level will significantly impact your insurance, and it’ll also protect your belongings. Before visiting, it’s recommendable to get in touch first so you could find out about the security features at the property. That way, you’ll know what kind of impact it’ll have on your insurance policy.
Having tenant insurance protects you from damage or theft, and provides you with peace of mind. It’s essential to protect all your belongings as quickly as possible upon moving into your new home, especially if it’ll be empty most of the day while you’re at the uni.
Renting a property as a student is a normal thing around the world. However, as much as it may seem daunting, learning about your rights and responsibilities will make it that much easier. Ensure that you thoroughly inspect the property before signing the contract and learn everything you can about the legally binding rules. With all this in mind, you’ll have no trouble finding a perfect place for yourself.