Private rented housing for students usually gives you the same rights as any other private tenant.
Rights in private rented accommodation
Students who live in private rented accommodation have the same rights as any other private tenant.
Most students in private rented flats and houses are assured shorthold tenants.
You have different rights if you are a lodger in your landlord's home.
If you share with other people, you might live in a house in multiple occupation. This may have to be registered with the council and meet certain safety standards.
Use Shelter's tenancy checker to check what your renting arrangement is.
Using a letting agent
Many students find somewhere to live through letting agents.
If you use a letting agency, you usually need to register with them before they offer you any accommodation.
You can register with more than one letting agency at a time. They must not charge you for registering.
All letting agencies should give you clear information about their charges before you agree to take up a tenancy. Shop around as these fees can vary.
Don't hand over any money until you're sure what it's for. Always get a receipt.
Some lettings agencies specialise in finding accommodation for students. Ask your student accommodation office or student union for a list of approved landlords and letting agencies.
Choosing the right place
The quality and price of privately rented accommodation varies. Always visit the accommodation and read any paperwork involved before you agree to move in or sign any written agreements.
Ask your university or local council if it runs an accreditation scheme that lists private landlords that provide safe, secure, well-managed housing.
You may be asked to provide a guarantor. This is usually a parent who promises to pay the rent if you don't.
Get advice before you sign if you're not sure about any part of your agreement as a tenant or guarantor.
Talk to a student adviser or use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area.
Paying a tenancy deposit
For most tenancies you need to pay a tenancy deposit to your landlord. This is to cover things like unpaid rent and damage when you leave.
When you pay a deposit, make sure that your landlord protects the money in an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Your landlord should return the deposit at the end of your tenancy. They can make reasonable deductions if you've caused damage or not paid all your rent.
Making an inventory
Shared student houses
Many students share flats or houses with friends. You may be able to get more for your money if you are sharing and can split the cost of bills.
Try to set ground rules for sharing. Agree whose name the bills are in. You can ask that everyone's name is on the utility bills.
Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
Flats and houses that are shared with people who are not your partner or relatives are called houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Your home must be licensed by the local council if it has at least 3 storeys and contains 5 or more people. Some councils require that all HMOs are licensed.
Landlords of HMOs can only get a licence if the correct fire safety measures are in place and there are adequate cooking and washing facilities.
If the property is licensed as an HMO, this also means that communal areas and shared facilities should be kept clean and in good repair.
A lodger rents a room in the same house or flat as their landlord. Your landlord might be the owner or tenant of the property.
If you share facilities such as a bathroom and kitchen with your landlord, you are an excluded occupier. Your landlord only has to give you 'reasonable notice' when asking you to leave.
Repairs and safety in rented accommodation
The home you rent should be safe to live in and free from hazards.
Your landlord is responsible for most repairs.
You have responsibilities to keep your home clean and do minor repair tasks such as changing lightbulbs and unblocking sinks.
Report repairs to your landlord as soon as possible.
Your landlord is always responsible for gas safety.
Joint tenants responsibility for rent
You and your housemates are all responsible for paying the rent if you are joint tenants and have all signed the same tenancy agreement.
This means that if one of you moves out or is not paying their share of the rent, the other joint tenants are responsible for paying it for them.
Students and council tax
You don't have to pay council tax if you and all of your flatmates are full-time students or you are a full-time student living alone.
You must tell the council you are all students so you can claim a council tax exemption. You usually need to get a certificate or a document from your college or university to show to the council.
If you are a lodger, your landlord is usually responsible for paying council tax.
Your letting agent or landlord could ask your parent or guardian to be a guarantor.
Your guarantor will have to pay the bill if you cause damage or don't pay your rent.
If you have a joint tenancy, your guarantor will usually be signing up to cover all the rent that is not paid and all the damage caused. This can seem unfair as they could end up paying up towards the rent even if you had paid all your share.
The only way round this will be if your guarantor signs a written agreement with the landlord saying that their liability is limited to a specified proportion of the rent (or damage). Many landlords will not agree to this.
Your parent or guardian may want to get legal advice about being a guarantor. They may be able to use legal services available through their home insurance, union or employee benefits.
Don't be caught out by rental scams. These often involve fraudsters advertising a property for rent that either doesn't exist or has already been rented out. They will try to trick you into paying an upfront fee and then disappear with your money.
Students are often targeted by these scams. Make sure you or someone else has seen the property before paying a deposit, or at least make sure that the person advertising it is genuine.
Last updated 19 Sep 2016 | © Shelter
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