As the new university term begins, many students will be making plans about their living situation for the next academic year. But when it comes to signing for a student property, the paperwork involved may be a little daunting for some.
Simon Thompson, founder of Accommodation for Students has provided some useful guidance for what students should look out for when signing a tenancy agreement.
If you haven’t started looking for your student property for next year, January is the best time to start your search. If this is your first time signing for a student property, you may be slightly confused by the paperwork. Below, I’ve outlined the key things you should be looking at when signing your student tenancy agreement.”
- Check the details
The first thing to do before signing a student tenancy agreement is to check that all of the details are correct. Are everyone’s names included on the contract and is the information provided correct? Also, be sure to check that the dates of the tenancy are also correct. If you were wanting to move into the property during the summer before the term starts, check that you have a 12-month tenancy.
Don’t always assume that this is always the case, as some tenancies may not begin till September. Discuss your needs with your landlord or letting agent prior to them drafting up the initial agreement.
- Check the type of tenancy
When signing for a student property, you will likely be signing up for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement. They are usually 12-month tenancy agreements running from July the following year. There are two types of tenancy contracts for students: a joint tenancy, or an individual tenancy.
A joint tenancy agreement means that all tenants are jointly liable for the rent on the property, and all sign on one joint contract. In a joint contract, if someone misses a rent payment, then all of the tenants will technically be liable, regardless of who has paid and who hasn’t.
An individual tenancy is the more ideal option for students, as this means that each tenant has their own individual contract with the landlord, and is solely reliable for their rent.
- Is there a summer rent agreement?
If your tenancy agreement is over summer, double check your contract to see if your rent is reduced over these months. Don’t assume that your rent will automatically be discounted out of term time.
- The deposit
A deposit will likely be required after signing your tenancy agreement. Be sure to check on the contract to see how much the deposit will be, when it must be paid by, and when you can expect to receive it back after your tenancy has ended.
Deposits will usually be one month’s rent, but always be sure to check this on the contract. Always pay deposits after you have signed your tenancy agreement.
By law in the UK, all deposits must be registered in a government backed deposit protection scheme by your landlord. This should be outlined clearly within your contract. If you can’t see reference to this in your contract, query it with your landlord or letting agent, as not registering with a deposit protection scheme means that your deposit is unprotected. This means they may be breaking the law.
- Are bills included?
Check your tenancy agreement to see if bills are included in your rent. This should be outlined clearly in your contract. If not, you and the other tenants will be responsible for getting bills set up with a provider.
Landlords are legally obligated to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to all prospective tenants. The EPC will outline the energy efficiency rating of the property, recommend improvements to the property, and show what the energy efficiency rating could be if changes were made.
- Guarantor agreement
The majority of student tenancy agreements will require you to provide a guarantor. A guarantor is usually a parent or guardian who signs to say that they will take responsibility for the rent, if you can not pay it for some reason. A guarantor will be required to sign a copy of the agreement and provide a copy of their identification.
- Inventory list
Another important aspect of your tenancy agreement is the inventory list. This will detail what is included in the property, such as furniture, kitchen appliances, and any cleaning supplies. It is an important aspect so that you know exactly what is included, and what you will need to bring with you if it isn’t.
The inventory list must also detail the current state of the property, any items within the property, and note of any damages that exist prior to the new tenancy beginning.
This is an important part of the contract you should be aware of, as any existing damages or missing inventory that is not properly logged, may result in you wrongly being penalised for them. If there are existing damages to the property itself or to any of the inventory, this should be detailed and the landlord should list any agreed repairs or maintenance in writing, prior to you signing the agreement. Both the landlord and the tenants will be required to sign this.