Don’t ignore the small print
Make sure you’re clear about what kind of tenancy agreement you’re signing, and ask as many questions as you need to, no question is silly. If everyone living in the property signs one agreement with the landlord when you move in, that’s known as a joint tenancy. If each of you sign a separate one, you’ll have separate tenancy agreements.
One thing to watch out for when rening a property are tenancy renewal fees and late payment fees. Always get clear and precise information about a letting agent’s fees before signing and agreeing to anything. It is a good idea to use an agent that is a member of a body or scheme such as the national association of letting agents. When renting a property, you will almost certainly be asked to hand over a deposit, as well as the first month’s rent in advance, before you move in.
Check the agreement includes all the relevant information you need, such as what the rent covers, does it include bills too? whether you can leave before the end of the tenancy, and how much notice you have to give, and any rules on things like pets, guests and smoking.
Help from mum and dad?
The landlord may ask for students to provide a “guarantor” – usually mum or dad – who will have to cover the costs if the rent isn’t paid, or if the house is trashed. The crucial thing for parents to know is that if it’s a joint tenancy, with a single agreement, any guarantor will also be jointly liable for overdue rent or damage caused by the other tenants. Parents can try to limit their liability by writing it into their guarantor agreement.
Make sure the inventory is accurate
The inventory is a list of everything that’s provided with the property, this may include furniture, carpets, curtains, appliances etc. It should also record the condition everything is in – for example, existing damage or wear, such as an old stain on a carpet.
Remember the bills
Don’t forget before you move into a property, you need to work out the affordability of it all, remember to factor in costs on top of the rent, such as utility bills, TV licence and internet access costs and food shopping. One thing to remember is that full-time students are usually exempt from paying any council tax.
If you’re renting a big place with other people, check whether the landlord has, or needs a HMO licence for the property. Your landlord must register their HMO with the council if it has five or more unrelated people sharing and is at least three storeys high.
Make sure all gas appliances have been checked by a gas safe registered engineer. Landlords have a legal duty to have all gas appliances in their properties inspected every year. And fit at least one smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector if they’re not already installed.