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Leaving the family home to live in rented accommodation as a student is as daunting as it is exciting. The thoughts of a student are generally consumed by studying and socialising rather than the responsibilities of running a home and living with others. However, the good parts of being a student are definitely made easier if you know your rights and are organised when it comes renting. For the most part, landlords are genuine and caring people that are a joy to deal with, but there also some out there that are not so pleasant and can make your tenancy a misery if you allow yourself to be taken advantage of.
To make your rental experience a memorable one for the right reasons, here are five things that every student should know before renting.
1. Landlords are obligated to protect your deposit
Since April 6, 2007, landlords have a legal obligation to protect the deposits of tenants under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Landlords must safeguard deposits in one of three government schemes and inform tenants as to which scheme they are using within 30 days of receiving payment.
2. Don’t rent without an inventory
UK property inventories are provided by specialised inventory services and are designed to monitor the condition of a property and its contents before a tenant moves in and just before they move out. Having an inventory in place helps prevent disputes between landlord and tenant over damages that could result is the withholding of a deposit. If the landlord does not provide you with an inventory to sign, as the tenant you are well advised to compile your own. It is possible to do this yourself using photos and written descriptions; however, using one of the many qualified rental inventory services in the UK will ensure a much more comprehensive document.
3. You must abide by the rental agreement
As a tenant, it is important that you fully understand and adhere to the rental agreement provided by the landlord. The agreement will determine what is and is not possible in the house (i.e. pets, smoking, modifications) and you may be evicted and lose your deposit if you do not abide by the rules. If you wish to make any changes to the property, make sure to first seek permission from the landlord in writing.
4. You may not have to pay council tax
If you are a full-time student, you will be exempt from paying council tax; part-time students, though, will not be. When renting with other students it is wise to stick with people undertaking the same length of study. If you are a full-time student, try to share with other full-time students and vice-versa
5. Landlords are responsible for most repairs
Landlords have a ‘duty of care’ to tenants that involves carrying out most major exterior and structural repairs. Any problems related to the roof, walls, guttering, chimney, and drains must be carried out by the landlord. It is also their responsibility to ensure water, gas, and electricity is always in safe working order.
Most rental agreements will make it the tenants’ responsibility to take care of minor repairs and maintenance related to furniture, décor, and gardens.
Bills aside, renting a home should be an enjoyable experience and armed with these five tips it should be exactly that. One thing you should not forget at the end of your tenancy, though, is your deposit. To get your money back, make sure home or flat inventories have been carried out and signed by both parties. After three years of hard partying, you’ll need that money more than ever!
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