A Students Guide To Renting
Renting in the private rented sector can seem like a minefield if you have never done it before. Before you sign any legal document, it is critical that you know exactly what you are signing.
Searching For Student Accommodation:
We understand that finding student accommodation can be stressful, let alone understanding the stages you need to go through before you can move in. That is why we have created this guide to help you understand what to expect in the student letting process.
When searching for the perfect property, you need to make sure you take in to account price, location and size. Click here to check out our previous article relating to this.
At Bournemouth Student Lettings we aim to make it easy as possible. If you sign up with us today, we will do the hard work for you and will select properties most suited to your needs. A member of our team will then be able to offer viewings to help find the perfect student accommodation for you.
Tenancy Fees Act:
Under new legislation, letting agents are no longer allowed to charge administration fees.
Ask the letting agent for a full break down of the costs if you are unsure what you are being charged.
From the 1st June 2019, a tenancy deposit is capped at no more than 5 weeks rent and the holding deposit (to secure the property) is capped at no more than 1 weeks rent.
Holding Form and Payment:
So you have found a property you like, what next? All tenants will need to fill out a holding registration form and will need to pay a holding payment (equivalent to a week’s rent). This will go towards your total move in costs. Once we have your holding payment, current legislation stipulates necessary paperwork should be completed within 15 days or such longer period as might be agreed.
The total cost to move in to the student property = Deposit equivalent to 5 weeks rent + 1st months rent.
Deposits are refundable at the end of the tenancy agreement. However, the landlord/agent is able to make reasonable deductions from the deposit if there is any damage or cleanliness issues with the state the property is left in. This is why it is advisable to keep the property clean throughout the tenancy to avoid any build up of dirt and limescale.
The majority of agents or landlords will require you to have a guarantor. This is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to do so and it is normally a close relative or friend. If your guarantor then fails to pay the rent, your landlord will be able to take them to court.
At Bournemouth Student Lettings, we require the guarantor to be a homeowner and they must earn 36 times the rental amount. This is so they do not put themselves in financial struggle by supporting someone else.
Agents and landlords will usually require a guarantor to be living in the UK. If you are unable to provide a UK guarantor, you may be asked to pay some or even all of the rental amount in advance. It is always best the check this with the agent or landlord.
There are also companies available who are willing to act as a guarantor for you. However, they do require a fee. You also need to check if the landlord or agent will allow this.
Credit Check and Referencing:
Now you have selected a guarantor (and they have agreed), they must now undergo a credit check. Agents and landlords will have different companies that they prefer to use. The credit check will check for any County Court Judgements etc that the guarantor may have and will check that they are financially able to support someone else. It will also require the guarantor to fill in their employment details and it will normally require references from their current employer. If the guarantor is not satisfactory, you may be asked to find another guarantor.
During this stage in the letting process, it is good practice for the landlord or agent to ask to see a copy of your Right to Rent ID. Some referencing companies will ask you to upload the document via their domain. The right to rent is simply your passport or residence permit. However, if you do not have these documents, there are other forms of acceptable documents. Please click here to visit the Right to Rent Documents Guide.
We have a duty to the landlord to ensure that all rental payments are made on time. Therefore, we must ensure that the guarantor can afford to pay the rent from their income.
When renting in the private sector, I am sure you are aware that you need to sign a tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement is a legally binding document and must be read and signed by all tenants. Do not forgot to sign the document in your full legal name! Both you and your guarantor will need to execute the document, once this has been signed, you are then bound by the contract.
Normally, student tenancy agreements will be for a fixed term - make sure you check how many months that the landlord is offering. The majority of agreements will be for either 10 or 11 months.
You need to be aware of the different tenancy agreements that are available for students in the private rented sector.
Some landlords will only offer joint and several agreements. This means that each student in the property is jointly responsible for the property and rent payments. Regarding rent, you are responsible for your own individual rent, but also the collective rent of the whole house. At the end of the tenancy agreement, any deductions that need to made from the deposit, will be taken from the whole deposit amount.
Some landlords may also offer individual contracts. For some students, this may be the better option, however, you will need to check if the landlord or agent will offer this. Having an individual contract means that you will not be liable to cover for your other housemates.
1st Months Rent & Deposit:
Once the tenancy agreement has been executed, we will then be in a position to request the remainder of your first months rent. This must be made within 30 days of executing the tenancy agreement.
Before the tenancy commences, you will then need to pay the full deposit amount. This will need to be paid within the month of the tenancy starting.
If your contract is an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, your landlord must place your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. From receiving the deposit payment, your landlord/agent must protect the payment within 30 days of receiving it.
There are three government approved schemes that the deposit can be placed in:
- Deposit Protection Service
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
At the end of the tenancy, the deposit will be returned to students minus any deductions that may have to be made for cleaning or damage to the property. At the beginning of the tenancy before move in, an inventory will be made. This is a record of the contents and the condition that the property is in. Ideally, inventories should be very detailed and should contain photographs. Make sure you go through this at the beginning of the tenancy and contact the landlord or agent on any points you are unhappy with.
At the end of the tenancy, a check out inventory will be carried out. The same process will happen where the condition of the property will be recorded. Both of the inventories will be compared and proposed deductions will be made. If you believe that any of the deductions are unfair, you are allowed to dispute this.
Changes to the Tenancy Agreement:
Lettings agents understand that circumstances happen and you may be unable to move in to the property as planned. The general expectation is that landlords and agents can charge £50 per change to the tenancy agreement in one variation. The amount which exceeds £50, could be a prohibited payment. Always ask the landlord or agent for a breakdown of the costs if you are unsure. If you decide to pull out and have have paid the holding payment, the payment will be forfeited as liquidation damages.