Advice on Renting Flats & Bedsits

Malvern House London

Living in a flat or house with other students can be a really good experience. It gives you a chance to meet people who know the area and quickly make new friends. It also gives you lots of chances to practice using English!

www.crm-students.com
http://www.accommodationforstudents.com/
http://www.crm-students.com/crm-accommodation/london/

You can also find information about accommodation owned by private landlords from www.saferstudents.co.uk

Deposits

Remember that you will need to be able to pay the first month’s rent and an extra one or two month’s rent as a deposit before you can move in.  The landlord/lady will return the deposit to you when you leave as long as there is no damage to the flat and that nothing is missing from the inventory (the list of items which belong to the flat).

(Get more information at www.gov.uk)

Information landlords must give tenants

Within 30 days of getting your deposit, your landlord/lady must tell you:

  • the address of the rented property
  • how much deposit you have paid
  • how the deposit is protected
  • the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and its dispute resolution service (so if you argue with each other there are rules to help you solve the problem)
  • their (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details
  • the name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit
  • why they would keep some or all of the deposit
  • how to apply to get the deposit back
  • what to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy
  • what to do if there is a dispute over the deposit

Insurance and Safety

It is a good idea to buy your own ‘contents insurance’.  Contents insurance covers only the things that belong to you, so in case of theft you will not lose everything.  You can also get insurance for items you take out of the house, like your phone, laptop, and wallet.Make sure that you always lock your room door if you move into accommodation with people that you do not know. Also, check that windows and doors to your room/accommodation have good locks.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that all gas and electrical equipment is properly installed and maintained.

Make sure that there are fire detectors in the house/flat, and if there is a gas boiler in the house/flat it is good to have a carbon monoxide detector.

Companies such as Endsleigh cater for students and short term insurance: https://www.endsleigh.co.uk/

Immobilise

You can also register your items for free on the national property database Immobilise. You can register any item that has a serial number, e.g. mobile phones, mp3 players, laptops etc. You can also register bicycles.

Just go to www.immobilise.com

Crime and Safety

London is a large international city, and so some of the areas are safer than others. While you are here make sure that you take care to hide any valuable objects like phones when out at night, and don’t have money on show if you don’t have to.

When you get to the school you can ask reception about anything to do with your area and they will try and help you. You can also find crime statistics in the area by looking at: www.crime-statistics.co.uk

Paying Council Tax

You will get a Council Tax bill if there is someone living in your accommodation who is not a full-time student, but your house/flat might still be able to get a discount.  Some Landlords will include this in your rent, so check when you first sign the paperwork.To be exempt from (not have to pay) Council Tax you must be a full time student. Please ask for a letter via Guided E-learning.

To count as a full-time student, your course must:

  • last at least 1 year
  • involve at least 21 hours study per week

If you are under 20 years old, your course must:

  • last at least 3 months
  • involve at least 12 hours study per week

The rules on Council Tax can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/council-tax/full-time-students

Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and a landlord/lady.It lets you live in a house/flat as long as you pay rent and follow the rules. It also sets out the legal terms and conditions of your stay in the accommodation. It is usually written on paperwork which you and the landlord/lady both get a copy of. Always ask for a copy and keep it safe!

A tenancy can either be:

  • Fixed-term (running for a set period of time, e.g. 6 months)
  • Periodic (running on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis)

What should be in a tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement should include:

  • The rental price and how it is to be paid
  • Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
  • The deposit amount and how it will beprotected
  • When the deposit can be fully or partly withheld (eg to repair damage you’ve caused)
  • The property address
  • The start and end date of the tenancy
  • Any tenant or landlord obligations (things you/they must do)
  • Which bills you are responsible for

It can also include information on:

  • Whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done
  • Who is responsible for minor repairs
  • Whether the property can be let to someone else if you go away (sublet) or have lodgers (people who stay with you)

Citizens Advice has a guide on tenancy agreements:

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/your_family/housing/tenancy_agreements.htm

Your rights and responsibilities

In all privately rented houses or flats you will have certain rights and responsibilities. (Information from www.gov.uk)

Your rights

As a tenant, you have the right to:

  • Live in a property that is safe and in good condition
  • Have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends – and in some circumstances have itprotected
  • Challenge excessively high charges (e.g. bills you think are far too high)
  • Know who your landlord is
  • Live in the property undisturbed
  • See an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • Be protected from unfair eviction (being asked to leave the house/flat before the end of your tenancy agreement) and unfair rent
  • Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years

If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

If you don’t know who your landlord is, ask (in writing) the person or company you pay rent to. If they do not give you this information within 21 days, your landlord may be fined.

Your responsibilities

You must give your landlord access to the house/flat to inspect it or carry out repairs. Your landlord has to give you at least 24 hours’ notice and visit at a reasonable time of day, unless it is an emergency and they need immediate access.

You must also:

  • Take good care of the house/flat – e.g. by cleaning it and keeping it in good condition
  • Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you are in dispute with your landlord
  • Pay other charges as agreed with the landlord – these may include Council Tax or gas and electric bills
  • Repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family, or your friends
  • Only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement, or your landlord, allows it

If you do not fulfil your responsibilities, your landlord has the right to take legal action to evict you.

Useful Tips

  • Talk to other students at the school to find out where they are living – someone may be looking for a flatmate
  • Go and visit accommodation with a friend – never go alone
  • If you are renting a house or flat, ask your landlord/lady if you can pay reduced rent during holiday time when you may be away
  • When you move in, make sure that all of the items on the inventory (list of things in the accommodation) are in your flat/house and that they are not damaged
  • If you are going to live in a shared flat with people you don’t know, check to see if your own room has a lock on the door
  • Do not hand over any money until you have been given the key to your flat/bedsit

Useful Terms

  • Bedsit – Single room, usually with sink. It is like a living room and bedroom in one. Normally you will share a kitchen and bathroom
  • Studio flat – Bedroom with small private kitchen and bathroom
  • Landlord and landlady – The owner of the accommodation
  • Tenancy agreement – The paperwork you sign with the landlord/lady to book the accommodation
  • All inclusive – Means that you should not have to pay extra for bills such as heating and electricity
  • Council Tax – A monthly tax that everyone pays to the government in the UK.
  • Deposit – Money you give to the landlord/lady before you move in that you get back when you leave as long as the accommodation is in good condition. If you damage the accommodation the landlord/lady uses your deposit to pay for the damages.

If you need help or advice with finding accommodation in London,
please ask at Reception.