Updated: Jan 29, 2019
Students renting self-contained accommodation from a private landlord will most likely have what is called an ‘Assured shorthold tenancy’ (AST), making the student an ‘Assured shorthold tenant’.
This means the tenancy will usually last for six or 12 months and gives the student a right to have their deposit protected and be given notice of eviction. Here are a few key facts from Luxor Media Group, for students looking to rent their first property:
Tenancy agreement – Before moving into the property, you should receive a copy of the tenancy agreement including: the tenancy start date, the amount of rent due, when rent needs to be paid and how and when the rent amount can be changed. It should also state the length of any fixed term agreement you have with the landlord. It’s your right to ask your landlord for this information in writing and they must respond within 28 days of your request. Make sure you read the tenancy agreement carefully before signing it.
Landlord contact details – It is your right as a tenant to have an address in England (or Wales) to contact your landlord.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – Since April 2007 it has been a legal requirement to secure any tenant’s deposit in the government approved TDS.
TDS has launched a Code of Recommended Practice. This Code of Practice sets out the recommended requirements which letting agents and landlords should meet as members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Access to the property – Your landlord doesn’t have the right to enter your home without prior arrangement. If they need to carry out repair work, the landlord or acting agent can enter your home but must give you at least 24 hours notice in writing (unless it is an emergency).
Broken items and repairs – You should let your landlord know about anything faulty or broken as soon as you spot it because it’s their duty to repair major things. If it’s something minor such as a fuse which needs to be changed, they are not legally obliged to do it.
Gas and electrical safety – It’s up to the landlord to ensure all gas and electrical appliances are safe to use. The landlord has to arrange a gas safety check every year (by a Gas Safety engineer) which ensures any appliances using gas are in good working order. The landlord should have a record of the engineer’s report, and is obliged to share it with you.
When you move in, make a detailed list of the contents. "Everything (yes, that means everything), needs to be included, from whether the toilet seat is on properly to whether the carpet is without holes. Both you and your landlord should sign and date this and have a copy each.
Each student in a shared house is jointly responsible for paying the gas, electricity and water bills. Don't be soft on dopey flatmates and just put your own name down on the bills. Register with each company in all your names, which means all of you are responsible – and all accountable if you fall behind with payments. Landlords have a legal obligation to provide the tenants with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate. The regulations stipulate that all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety every 12 months. All furniture in rented properties has to meet the "cigarette test" to avoid being in breach of fire safety regulations. And electrical equipment should be supplied safe, although Justin Burns says: "There is little detail in the regulations as to what the definition of 'safe' is."
It's £145.50, which is why so many students try to dodge it. The legal get-out is if you only watch "catch-up" television on your laptop, for example over BBC iPlayer. But if you watch any television live, even on your laptop, you have to buy a licence. More details at tvlicensing.co.uk. If you have a joint tenancy, then you only have to pay for one licence for the house, no matter how many tellies you have. If you have individual tenancy agreements, then a licence is required for each person with a TV in the room.
A place occupied only by full-time students is exempt from council tax. So if you live in a house where everyone is a full-time student you shouldn't get a bill. If there's someone in the household who's not a full-time student the household will get a bill, but may qualify for a discount on the full amount. More details at direct.gov.uk
Shared student houses are full of stuff thieves love – such as bikes and laptops. If you are going to rent in an area full of student houses, make sure yours has good security locks on all doors and windows, and maybe a burglar alarm. Consider buying insurance – but try your parents first. Their contents insurance may be extended to cover their offspring's possessions away from home at little or no extra cost.
Day-to-day bills - and unwelcome lovers
The golden rule of shared households is that you always think that (a) you do more cleaning than anyone else and (b) you pay for more of the milk, coffee, bread and toilet paper than anyone else. Avoid flare-ups by setting up a kitty and decide early on how you'll each pay into it.
And don't expect your flatmates to subsidise your boyfriend/girlfriend staying for half the week - which we will endure this wont happen
Make a rule that if one of your flatmates has a "guest" staying two nights or more then they must pay into the kitty & be added to the contract.
The Landlord Calls
Your landlord has the keys to your home, but can't call whenever he or she likes. "A landlord does have to give notice to a tenant that they are going to visit. If they don't respond, they can set a time and a date when they are going to enter the property," says Justin Burns. The minimum notice regarded as reasonable is 24 hours.
If the landlord visits the property uninvited and at unreasonable hours, or refuses to complete repairs, threatens you into leaving or disconnects essential services such as gas, they you may have a claim for harassment. Harassment is a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Keep a diary of events in case you need to take further action.
Your assured shorthold tenancy contract will contain measures to allow the landlord to evict you and your flatmates for unreasonable behaviour such as noisy parties disturbing local residents. Neighbours can also contact their local council's Environmental Health Officer.
Councils can serve a noise abatement order on the perpetrator, and if there are further offences can seize equipment and bring the offender to the magistrates court. Those convicted can be fined up to £5,000.
Just don't be anti-social. Politely inform neighbours if you are holding a party, and turn the music down after midnight, please.
As a tenant, as long as you remember to pay all bills (rent and utilities) on time, keep the property clean and tidy and keep noise to a minimum, you should find yourself without any accommodation troubles. Always check with a professional regarding legal and/ or financial advice.
Here at Luxor Lettings, we offer a variety of properties ranging from studio apartments to 3 flats. Catering for individual, smaller group or larger group bookings, we pride ourselves on the high standard of our accommodation along with our all inclusive offering. Our friendly team are always on hand to help and recommend the most suitable property for you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch!