A-level results have just been released and you or your loved ones may well be heading off to university or going back for second year, out of halls and into a student house. Whether that's the case or it’s a simple move into a flat-share, NALS has some great advice to help you and anyone you know rent more safely.
Need a guarantor? Read our how to secure a UK guarantor checklist
As someone who went through the student renting process at the beginning of the decade, I can say first hand that my friends and I could have benefited from taking the NALS tips on board!
NALS/Safeagent top 5 renting tips:
1 - Use a professional and research, research, research:
Don't jump two-footed into the first apparently half-decent rental opportunity that comes your way, this can be a recipe for disaster. A friend of mine at NTU turned up at his student house at the start of term having viewed the house but in no great detail. It transpired there was no electricity or gas and there were letters for the landlord who had not been making his mortgage payments. At this point my friend and his house mates were essentially homeless and had already paid a months rent plus the deposit, totalling almost £4,000.
Fortunately they used a professional letting agent who was able to find another house for them at short notice but it took them more than three months to recover the deposit.Not ideal when living on a student income.
There a few letting agent groups where the members provide a professional service and abide by a code of conduct, protecting you if something bad happens, including:
Renting? - Read how to choose a letting agent
2 - Get busy, protect yourself:
You wouldn't dream of driving an uninsured car and the vast majority of students will invest in some sort of contents insurance (although not a group of lads I knew who lived in the most burgled road in York and inevitably had possessions swiped) but what about the rent you hand over to your letting agent?
Before parting with any cash ensure the letting agent has client money protection (CMP) in place. CMP protects money held by an agent enabling tenants to recover funds in case the agent uses money for fraudulent purposes or straight up steals the cash.
Unfortunately, CMP is not yet mandatory for agents so to check if your agent has CMP and to protect your money visit safeagent.co.uk.
Looking to rent? Read our renting quick guide
3 - Don't forget your responsibilities:
An assured shorthold tenancy (AST) is a legal document so prior to signing it make sure you know your obligations! I made this mistake at university and didn't get a full deposit back at the end of my second or third year. It's not just about getting the rent in on time, the AST could include a number of things you hadn't considered such as keeping the garden under control or avoiding smoking on the premises.
You are risking losing your deposit or even eviction if you fall foul of the AST.
4 - What must your landlord or letting agent provide you with?:
Proof your deposit is protected in a three government approved scheme
An Energy Performance Certificate for your home
A Gas Safety Certificate (If applicable)
And if they are a really good landlord or agent, you will also get a copy of the latest electrical safety report (required every five years in Scotland)
Renting? - Read how to choose a letting agent
5 - Pay attention to the inventory:
This is the one thing I can say my house mates and I did at university. When moving in we noticed that a flat screen TV and a second sofa were listed on the inventory but were nowhere to be seen in the house. We notified the letting agent and the missing items were provided in no time at all.
Inventories are a fair way for all parties to agree on the condition and contents of a property at the start of a tenancy. This hopefully prevents any future deposits and paves the way for a stress free tenancy.
Letting a property? Read our inventory checklist
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive NALS says: “You might have heard horror stories about renting as a student, but to reassure you, these really are in the minority. If you do your research and ensure you are using a reputable agent, or landlord, you’ll be treated properly and will find the right accommodation.
“There are lots of protections in place for renters these days too, so make sure you’re aware of what your rights are, but also what responsibilities you have. Most of all enjoy the freedom of your first place away from home!”
A final tip from me, remember to clean your room properly at the end of the year otherwise you'll be buying rounds for your house mates as an apology for at least a term!