Type of Contract
You will most likely be signed into a fixed term 12-month contract when signing for your student property, however, there are two main types of tenancy contracts you will be offered by your landlord. This will be described as either a ‘joint tenancy agreement’ or an ‘individual contract.’
A joint tenancy agreement means that everyone in your property is signed to one binding contract where they are responsible for property and rent payments collectively. If this is the case, ensure your housemates are trustworthy, or you could land yourself in some hot water. This could happen if one of your housemates decide they want to move out, as this wasn’t the condition you as a group agreed to. This could mean all tenants may be asked to leave the property if you can’t resolve the issue with your landlord, so pick wisely!
Alternatively, and more commonly, you will be given an individual contract. This means every tenant has their own agreement with the landlord if any issues arise. It is the responsibility of each individual (and their guarantor) to assure rent and property payments are made, and not anyone else.
As mentioned above, most students will require a student guarantor in order to secure a house. This is essentially someone who will end up responsible if you can’t make a rent payment. This is basically just to ensure that the landlord is covered if for a serious reason you missed a payment.
They will often have to provide various forms as proof of identity and sign a contract themselves as it is a lot of responsibility to be bound to a house where they are not living themselves. This is where it’s worth noting that this isn’t an option for them to help you if you splurge your student loan, this is simply assuring financial stability for the landlord of your house. You mustn’t rely on them as a source of finance unless you really have to.
Deposit Protection Schemes
Most student property agents will require a deposit in order to reserve a house to assure that the cost of any damages caused throughout your tenancy will be covered. This is usually around the cost of one month’s rent but differs in each city. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if you attempt to keep your property spick and span, you will be landed with a nice bit of extra pocket money at the end of the year when your loan has run out and you move home for summer, and rest assured that this money is safe under the DPS by checking your contract.
Ensure that the full amount is protected under a government backed deposit protection scheme, which must be registered by landlords within 30 days. Check that your landlord has signed you onto this scheme so that you won’t lose out at the end of the year.
Even if there are damages at the end of your tenancy, and with most houses there are, your deposit will remain in full within this scheme until an agreement is made between you and your landlord. If you have any disputes for reductions this gives you leeway to reason these so that charges aren’t taken unfairly.
Summer Holidays Rent Payment
Most houses will ask you to pay some form of rent over summer months, even if you aren’t occupying the house. If you aren’t planning on moving in until September make sure that this is the case, so you don’t have to pay lump sums of rent when you aren’t living there yet.
Your landlord might be willing to make arrangements if you speak with them, but make sure you have a look at these details before you sign up for a house.
When you move into your house your landlord has to list all inventory in the house and any minor damages which might be in place, so that you won’t get blamed for previous tenants wear and tear when you move out. Both you and the landlord will check off aspects of the house, which will be referred to at the end of your tenancy period. Make sure this is done as soon as you move in and take dated pictures of any damages in places so that you can demonstrate what was already there when you arrived.
The Nitty Gritty
Ok so your 20-page contract may not seem like the most compelling thing you’ve ever read, but make sure you go through the small print of the property.
Check for minor details such as; the start and end dates of your agreement, all tenants information is correct, the do’s and don’ts of living in this property, rent payments, and agreed repairs with the landlord.
Make sure that this is all set out in a way that you agree with before you sign so that you and your landlord won’t have any future disagreements about the dishwasher they promised but never replaced.