Landlord and rental advice | NatWest



Landlord and rental advice

Preparations for living in rented accommodation

 

Accommodation explained

Types of accommodation

There are three main types of student accommodation and each has its benefits and disadvantages.

 

University halls of residence

 

This managed accomodation is a stepping stone to independent living as you experience being away from home for the first time without the complications of utility bills or landlords. The halls are managed by the university so so you're likely to be covered if anything goes wrong.

 

Many students choose to live in halls during their first year as the close living situation means it is a great way of interacting with people and you may end up finding good friends who you later choose to live with.

 

Main benefit: Great way of meeting new people

 

Main disadvantage: Very little peace and quiet if you want to study!

 

Private Halls/Private University Houses

 

These are a comparatively new addition to the student accommodation market as a compromise between university accommodation and traditional rented houses.Your bills and maintenance are usually included as with traditional halls of residence but they differ as the private halls are laid out as shared flats and studio apartments.

 

You can either rent an apartment to yourself, or rent one room within a flat and allow yourself to be allocated flatmates.

 

Main benefit: Living in private accommodation without having to worry about bills.

 

Main disadvantage: The prices for these private halls are usually higher than halls or private renting.

 

Private Accommodation

 

Renting a private property can appeal to those students looking to escape the halls of residence as it enables you to decide where and who you live with. Not all universities can provide halls for first year students so some may have to go down this route from the start.

 

The private houses are usually located quite close to the universities but you may have to put up with difficult landlords, splitting utility bills and untidy housemates. Reach out to your university for a list of approved landlords and student friendly letting agents.

 

Main benefit: The capability to choose where you live and who with.

 

Main disadvantage: Managing and splitting utility bills.

 

 

 

Types of tenancy agreements

If you decide to live in shared accommodation, your tenancy agreement is basicaly the contract you enter into with your landlord. Typically, there are two varieties of tenancy agreement.


Sole tenancy


If each student within your property has exclusive possession of their bedroom, while sharing other facilities such as the kitchen and bathroom, then they have a sole tenancy. Each student within the shared property will have a sole tenancy arrangement with the landlord.

 

If you have your own individual tenancy agreement then you are liable to pay the rent. If you don’t pay your rent, your landlord may take action against you. If other people you share your accommodation with don’t pay their rent, this won’t affect your tenancy.

 

Joint tenancy

 

If each student within a shared property signs a single tenancy arrangement and all contribute towards the rent, then you have a joint tenancy. You share the property and in theory don't have exclusive possession of any room.

 

If you have a joint tenancy, you and the other tenants have exactly the same rights. You are all jointly and individually responsible for the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. This is called joint and several liability.

 

If you have a joint tenancy, you are liable for the rent both jointly and individually. This means that one or all of you can be held responsible for the whole rent. It’s not possible to argue that each tenant is liable for their particular share.

So, if someone you live with doesn’t pay their share of the rent, the rest of you are responsible for making up the shortfall. If you don’t make up the shortfall, you are all jointly and individually responsible for any rent arrears that build up. Your landlord could deduct money from the deposit, take action to evict you all or recover the debt from any one of you or a guarantor.

 

 

 

Letting agents and deposits

Letting agents usually work on behalf of a landlord and act as the go-between in the tenancy arrangement. Letting agents are not regulated, so it is best to use a university approved agent or one that has signed up to the National Approved Letting Scheme

 

Deposits

 

Agents can charge a holding deposit if you've agreed to take a property but haven't yet signed the tenancy agreement.

 

If you're asked to pay a holding deposit make sure you're aware of what will happen before you pay any money. It will be useful to know:

 

  • Define if and when the deposit will be returned, and in what circumstances.
  • Is the deposit refundable if you change your mind about the tenancy?
  • If the landlord decides not to go ahead with the tenancy, will you get the deposit back?
  • Can you transfer the deposit to another property you find?

If you do pay a holding deposit it is usually deducted from the security deposit you pay when you move in.

 

Agents can require payment of a deposit as security against damage or getting into rent arrears. A typical security deposit is one month's rent.

 

Security deposits for assured shorthold tenancies paid on or after 6 April 2007, must be protected in a government-approved scheme. You must also be provided with details of the scheme.

 

A tenancy deposit protection scheme will pay back as much of your deposit as you are entitled to at the end of the tenancy. It also provides an alternative dispute resolution service that can be used if there is a disagreement about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Council Tax

Council tax is a local tax on residential property. There are certain exemptions from paying the tax which are based on the type of people who live in the property.

 

A property is exempt from council tax if it is wholly occupied by full-time university or college students. Student halls of residence are automatically exempt.

 

If your property is not exempt, certain people, including full-time students, are disregarded. This means that the council tax is calculated as if you do not live there. This may mean that whoever is liable to pay the council tax can get a discount.

Landlord advice

Before signing your agreement

Before signing your tenancy arrangement, make sure you book an appointment to view the property so you can get an in-depth evaluation of the house you may call home for the next ten months.

 

While viewing the property, look out for the following things and proceed with caution.

 

  • Damp and/or mould
  • Signs of rats or other pests
  • Electrical faults
  • Insulation

 

There are a number of other things to consider before deciding on your student house. When it comes to safety and security, it is best to look for a house on a busy, well lit street as studies show that these houses tend to be suffer less burglaries.

 

Check that the property has a burglar alarm system, and check windows and doors for safety locks.

 

Safety, is usually heavily linked with location. When you consider the pro's and con's of each property you look at, always bear in mind that at times you will probably end up walking home in the dark on your own.

 

The water supply, electrical appliances and gas fixtures should all be inspected, if needs be by an independent professional to help save you expensive repair costs down the line.

 

 

Landlord FAQs

When can a landlord enter your home?

Unless it's an emergency, a landlord must give at least 24 hours' notice in writing before entering your home. However if there is an emergency, for example a fire or burst water pipe, they can force entry and get into the property.

 

What is quiet enjoyment?

This is the term that allows a tenant to enjoy their rented home without being disturbed by the landlord. Quiet enjoyment means that your landlord must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference.

 

Who is responsible for repair work?

The landlord is responsible for the majority of repair work, but they are only responsible once they have been made aware of the issue. Therefore it is up to you to inform your landlord as part of your tenancy agreement.

 

Your landlord is responsible for repairing

 

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

If your landlord supplied any electrical appliances, they're responsible for maintaining them and your tenancy agreement may give more information about this.

 

What is a HMO?

Many students in shared houses or flats live in houses in multiple occupation (HMO). If you live in an HMO, your landlord has extra legal responsibilities and may need a licence for the property.

 

What can a landlord deduct from my deposit?

Your landlord should only make deductions for things that cost them money. For example, it's reasonable for your landlord to take money off your deposit to cover:

 

  • damage to the property or furniture
  • missing items that were listed on the inventory
  • paying for cleaning because the property was left in a dirty condition
  • outstanding rent owed by you or a joint tenant.

Your landlord shouldn't deduct money from the deposit to cover damage that could be regarded as fair wear and tear.

Ending your agreement

The rules on ending a tenancy agreement vary and the legal contract you are in must be ended properly when you want to move out.

 

Even if your fixed term agreement has come to an end and you are free to move out, it is still best to give written notice to your landlord clearly stating tihe time and date and the date you intend to leave the property. If there is no damage to the property and everything is in good workng condition then you should expect to be paid back the deposit you paid at the start of your tenancy agreement.

 

A periodic agreement is one that runs from one rent period to the next. These often arise when you stay on in your home after the fixed term has run out without signing a new agreement for another fixed term.

 

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