Renting a shared house or flat is a quintessential part of the student experience. It should be fun, safe and create no more problems than arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes. However all too often students and young people have poor renting experiences and problems that arise are often things that can be prevented.
Follow our seven step guide to renting heaven.
One: Know who your landlord is.
You should know who your landlord is. The owner of the property; as well as who you will be dealing with on a day to day basis. They might not be the same people, many landlord employ a agent to look after the property, but the landlord is ultimately responsible. Make sure you know how to contact the landlord as well as the agent if you need to.
Two: Know who is holding your deposit.
Find out who you will be handling your deposit to, will they be responsible for protecting it or will it be passed onto someone else to protect. Which Government scheme will be used to protect your deposit? For more information deposit protection go to Gov.uk/Deposits
Six: Make sure you get, and agree with, an inventory.
The inventory (or schedule of condition) should reflect the contents and condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. Take some time to go over the inventory and list any points you do not agree with, sign this and return it to the landlord, keeping a copy, within the first week of your tenancy.
If you don’t get given an inventory create your own, send it back within 7 days of the tenancy starting (unless your contract says sooner) and keep a copy, remember to take photo as well as additional evidence.
Seven: Keep everything in writing.
It just helps with any problems or disputes. Keep emails and text messages even after the tenancy has ended until you get your deposit back and you are happy with everything.
Three: Don’t sign anything you don't understand.
Make sure you understand what you are signing or what you are handing any money over for. is it a application form, tenancy agreement, holding deposit? Don't be afraid to ask for help if you don't understand.
Be sure you are happy with the landlord, the property and the rent before you commit.
Four: Be sure about who you are sharing with.
Sharing a house is a great way to save money and can be fun, but be confident that you can get along with house mates for a whole year; even when things go wrong or get stressful. If you fall out with your housemates you are still committed to the tenancy.
Five: Read your tenancy agreement.
Most tenancy agreements are pretty standard and a landlord can’t write a term into the agreement that removes your rights and expect it to be legal, but it is important to understand what you are agreeing to. Is the tenancy just for you or are you jointly liable with your housemates? What is the length of the agreement? Who maintains the garden? You can even contact your Students Unions who will do a tenancy agreement review with you.