University students will be starting back over the next week or so. Hopefully their accommodation is all sorted, and they have found a nice place to live. I rented for the four years I was a student and overall it was relatively painless. The only real difficulty was the nudge required to get deposits back! Landlords seem to like to hold on to them for as long as humanely possible. Here are a few pointers to make sure you have everything covered when it comes to renting as a student.
Protect your belongings
Your landlord is only responsible for keeping the property in a good condition not safeguarding your belongings. So, don’t forget to get adequate contents insurance for your needs. Have a look at homelet.co.uk/tenants if you are uncertain where to start. Shared student houses are often targeted for theft as burglars know they will have lots of valuables (laptops for study, mobile phone and camera) so it pays to be cautious.
You might want to read my earlier post about protecting your home from burglary for more tips to look after your possessions. Most importantly during the holidays take your valuables home, don’t leave them in your student rental.
Know your rights
When you rent a property, you do have rights. Never be fobbed off by a bad landlord. If for some reason the property is unfit the landlord will need to provide you with alternative accommodation. Repairs should always be made in a reasonable time frame, we had a washing machine included in one rental, but the landlord didn’t end up fixing it when it broke as it was so near the end of our rental contract. With that as leverage I agreed a few extra days stay for free that I needed instead. Appliances should be checked yearly, so make sure you keep an eye that your landlord is meeting their obligations.
They need to let you have quiet enjoyment of the property. This means they don’t drop in without permission. They must give you 24 hours’ notice in writing unless it’s an absolute emergency!
Getting your deposit back
Like I said this has always been the most complicated part for me! To make the process easier make sure you have signed an inventory which gives an accurate view of the condition of the property. Take dated photographs when you move in documenting any current issues with the property. If no inventory is provided it is in your best interests to produce one yourself. Then when you move out disputes about the state of the property are unlikely to happen. The landlord cannot deduct money for your deposit for reasonable wear and tear so make sure that you keep a close check on that.
Your deposit should be in a government backed tenancy deposit protection scheme and if you have met the terms of your tenancy agreement it will be returned to you. Once it’s been agreed how much you will get back it should be returned to you in 10 days. This scheme came into law in April 2007 at which point I had already finished my education, so it didn’t apply to me. But I am glad its there as another safeguard for tenants!