Second year students: What to look for with rented accommodation

First year at university is a relatively carefree existence, as most people will undoubtedly know. However, as students enter their second year, they’re required to leave their halls of residence and take their first steps in the property market, whether this be with a private landlord or a student accommodation provider. It’s a bit of a minefield too, given that people know just how unscrupulous landlords have been in the past and will likely be in the future with younger individuals who don’t know too much about what they need.

As such, it’s very much worth making sure you know exactly what you need to get before you start looking at student properties. Remember that as a student, you are entitled to the same rights as any other private tenant. After finding the best area for you, you ought to check a few things out before moving forward and signing a contract.

Firstly, you need to check if your landlord is licensed, otherwise you could lose out on many rights and end up in a very tough situation if things turn sour. If you are going to live with friends, you may need to check with your local authority to see if your landlord has to get hold of a House in Multiple Occupation licence for the property. HMOs apply if you have five or more unrelated people sharing the home and the property has three or more storeys.

Tenancy deposits and guarantors are a key issue that must be addressed, too. If you have found a suitable place to rent, landlords and letting agents will ask you to pay a deposit. With most students, a guarantor is also usually asked for in case rent is not paid or damage occurs. Make sure that your chosen landlord provides you with an inventory of the house’s contents, such as kitchen goods, the kettle, towel rack, toaster and such – this way you know exactly what’s covered. You will have your deposit returned in full if the home is not damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Many others also ask for rent in advance. With this in mind, you must make sure to only pay your money when you’ve had a particularly close look at the property in question, ensuring that there aren’t any pre-existing problems that you could be blamed and charged for in the future. Things worth looking out for in particular include signs of disrepair, poorly-fitting doors, damp, security issues and poor electrical fittings.

Your deposit should be returned to you if all fees have been settled and the property has not been damaged beyond normal wear and tear. If you feel that it’s being withheld unfairly, see ‘Problems with rented student accommodation’ for tips on getting your deposit back.

Be safe and clever – don’t just sign up to the first house you see. After all, there are a lot of landlords out there who want your business!

Article by Pickard Property, specialists in Leeds Student Accommodation

Photograph by Kelly

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