After spending the first year in halls many students chose to rent a house from a private landlord to share with friends. Living with friends in a shared house can be fun, affordable and one of the great aspects of student life. When choosing who to live with it goes without saying that you should choose wisely. Not only will you be sharing a kitchen, bathroom and living area with these people but you will be sharing the responsibility for a yearlong contract with the landlord. It is worth taking your time to get to know your new friends before deciding who to share a house with.
What should i consider before renting?
Landlords letting to students work on a very strict calendar and want to know that their properties are filled with paying tenants for the next academic year so they will be keen to get you to sign an agreement early. However Newcastle has an abundance of good quality accommodation so you should not feel under pressure to pick your housemates and commit to a contract too early. Leaving it later won’t mean that you will miss out.
Remember once you have signed a tenancy agreement you have made a commitment to rent that property with those housemates for the agreed period. If you fall out with your house mates, change or withdrawn from your university course the commitment will still be in place. The landlord is entitled to expect that the agreed rent be paid even if you or someone else moves out. If you have signed a joint contract and one of your housemates moves out or doesn’t pay their share of the rent the landlord can expect that you and the other housemates pay instead. Failure to pay rent can result in loss of your deposit, legal claims against you or anyone standing as guarantor for you and will provide a poor reference making it difficult to rent in future.
What is a HMO?
HMO simply means ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ and refers to any property rented to three or more people who are not related to each other. Unless you share with just one other person, or live in a purpose built block, it is likely you will rent a HMO from a private landlord.
HMO’s are treated differently in the housing world as they are seen are more vulnerable as the occupants are not a family and therefore do not act like a family. Rules around security, fire safety and waste management differ when the property is a HMO. Some HMO’s must have a licence and there are more rules for these larger properties.
Will i need a deposit?
When you rent a property it is likely that the landlord will ask for certain things to secure the property.
A security deposit is a sum paid at the start of the tenancy that is intended to be returned at the end of the tenancy unless the tenant has broken some part of the agreement i.e. hasn’t paid rent, caused damage to the property, left the property unclean. If you have an Assured Tenancy Agreement (or AST) the landlord has a legal obligation to protect the deposit in one of the three government approved scheme and give you information about where the deposit has been protected.
A holding deposit is taken before the tenancy is signed with the agreement that the landlord will stop advertising the property and the tenant agrees to take the property. You could lose a holding deposit if you decide not to sign the tenancy or fail to provide something the landlord has asked for to secure the tenancy. You should always make sure you have something in writing about when a holding deposit can be retained and when it will be returned.
Will I have to pay any fees?
If you are using a letting agent it is likely that you will have to pay the agents a letting fee when you eventually sign up for a property. These fees can differ greatly and it is worth shopping around as some agents might wave or reduce fees to encourage tenants to use them.
It is currently legal for agents to charge a fee to tenants but they must be clear and upfront about what the fees are and what they cover. Information about the fees should be clearly posted on their website and in their offices. If you are unsure about the fees ask the agent to provide you with details in writing before using their services or signing anything.
Will i need a guarantor?
A guarantor is someone agreeing to take responsibility for financial liabilities such as rent if you default on it. This is usually a family member who is a home owner and/or in full time employment. The landlord might ask to carry out some checks on the guarantors financial situation. If you can’t provide a guarantor you might be asked to pay the full years rent up front.
Many landlords will carry out some sort of reference checks on prospective tenants. This can take the form of taking a reference from a previous landlord or University Halls, a credit check; or a reference from employer or place of study.
What are right to rent checks?
All private landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that the tenants they rent to have a right to be in the UK. These checks are called Right to Rent checks and most landlords will apply this to all tenants applying for their property even if they are a UK national. A landlord will ask you to provide a form of ID such as a passport. If you don’t have a passport they can accept other documents such as birth certificate or driving licence but you will need to provide two of these. The landlord will need to take a copy of these and keep a copy on their records.