The road to finding student accommodation is not often clear-cut, and can be really daunting for overseas students arriving for the first time in the UK. If halls of residence are not an option, students have the opportunity to explore the abundance of private rented accommodation the country has to offer. In this article, we bring you a brief guide on private rented accommodation in the UK, just to make sure you know your tenants from your landlords, your flatmates from your letting agents and everything in between!
What options do I have?
The most common form of private housing is private rented accommodation that is shared with other students. This means you either have to find people you’d really like to move in with, or start a shared rented accommodation arrangement with strangers.
Don’t panic! These things generally turn out well, but the best arrangements happen when students get together to share private accommodation amongst themselves. Bear in mind that your university can massively help you in this area by providing you with a vetted list of recommended student landlords in the local area.
You will have to take care of bills alongside accommodation costs, something you really need to remember when looking for private rented accommodation.
Sharing with a landlord
There are a wealth of variations on the rented housing theme, but the most obvious one is private rented accommodation that’s shared with the landlord. There aren’t as many of these arrangements as there are house shares with other students, but you may find yourself in a position where is makes sense to share with the owner of the property. This means bathroom and kitchen areas are most likely communal spaces, so if this really isn’t your thing then you need to be sure what you’re walking into when you sign the tenancy agreement. This is simply an issue of reading any fine print thoroughly, and taking time to study the general rental agreement itself.
You will most likely be expected to pay a deposit for the rental agreement. This is standard practice – but you need to be careful that your money is protected from any issues once the rental agreement has finished. For example, landlords have the right to take some deposit back for themselves if they feel there’s any damage in the accommodation, or that some of the rental agreement terms have been breached. One of the most commonly cited reasons for this is due to breakage and loss.
To avoid this, be sure to you’ve ask for an inventory of items in the accommodation before you sign the agreement. Check it through carefully, just in case there are issues around any objects in the accommodation. If you know what was there at the beginning of the tenancy then you won’t be caught out by any landlord who may feel that it’s his or her right to demand money for breakages or for items they say have been lost. You can check all these details by getting an inventory.
Other factors include the state of the accommodation that you move into. You have the right, as a tenant, to expect certain standards regarding accommodation, including issues such as living in a place that doesn’t have pests in it, and living in a place is clean.
Your responsibilities as a tenant
Your side of the bargain means you have to treat the property with care and respect. This isn’t kindergarden anymore, it’s university, and you are in fact now a legitimate adult. Whether you like it or not, that title comes with a certain amount of responsibility. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, silly! If you want to throw a party, the best thing to do is ask your landlord and inform all your neighbours so there’s no animosity that could make the arrangement feel awkward. This is your living environment and it deserves your consideration, so if things do get broken, the best thing you can do is tell the landlord. They have entered a legally binding contract as much as you, and you are paying to live there so deserve to have things maintained up to a certain standard. General wear and tear is completely understandable and you will not be charged, but if something is broken through no fault of your own and you inform the landlord, they are obliged to get things sorted. **Bear in mind that the landlord cannot do anything about a repair, and is not legally obliged to, until it has been reported.
Renting private acccomodation while you study in the UK is generally fairly straightforward, and rest assured that any problems you encounter are usually easily rectified. The best thing to do is to rent with friends because you’ll know what you’re getting yourself in for, and it’s probably a lot more fun! In any case, ensure you have looked at the contracts thoroughly, and you know where you stand as a tenant. The majority of landlords are nice people with integrity, and if you pick a landlord off a university-approved list you have the reassurance of living somewhere where the landlord and the property have been vetted and are viewed as being high quality.
Image via Shutterstock.
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