Be a graduate of student renting
At the end of September students up and down the country will be starting or returning to university.
This is undoubtedly an exciting time, and many people will experience things for the first time if they are moving away from home to undertake their studies. Focus will understandably be put on making sure you are ready for the first lecture of the new term, finding out which building you need to be in and also looking forward to extra-curricular and sporting activities which will add to university life.
However, perhaps the one aspect which needs the most attention is ensuring that the property you will stay in, which will hopefully keep you safe, secure and warm for at least the next academic year, is suitable for their needs.
The property search may not always be an easy one. Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, recently said that three-quarters of the organisation's members report that there are more prospective tenants than properties available.
He noted that whether rental properties are sought alone or with friends, the process is not as simple as just picking out a home. Budgets are tight and there will be many different priorities to take into account.
"However, by following some simple steps, the process can be easy to navigate - leaving you with the right property, for the right price, and with your rights protected," Mr Potter added.
As you will no doubt find during your course, research is the key when looking for a property. Try speaking to other students and check out university advice websites for information on renting in the area. This is particularly useful if you are new to the area and are unsure of where to look.
Student unions can also offer housing and legal advice, while guidance from a regulated ARLA agent could also come in handy.
Anyone can become a landlord, and as students will likely be novices in dealing with property, this combination of the two parties might not always be a match made in heaven. ARLA agents, however, have to adhere to a strict code of conduct, while redress schemes and client money protection options will also be offered.
When you have picked your residence it is important to read the small print of a contract before signing it, as this will make a huge difference to your liability. How long is the agreement for? What do you need to pay and how often? Is a deposit needed?
If you are sharing with other people then it is very likely that joint liability clauses will exist, meaning that you could be responsible for issues or damage caused by your co-tenants.
There are a number of legal things that you should check, according to ARLA, including ensuring that landlords have the relevant Homes in Multiple Occupancy licence, while any deposit should also go into a protection scheme.
At the end of your first university year you might decide that it is time for a change of home, or you may wish to live with other people. Therefore it is important to make sure you know what period of notice you have to give, otherwise you could end up paying more rent than you had hoped.
Moving into student property is not a cheap experience, and a budget should be planned before signing a contract to see if it can be afforded.
Recently, the Rics Residential Lettings Survey revealed that in the three months to July, 34 per cent more surveyors said that the cost of rental homes went up rather than down.
A deposit – usually six weeks' worth of rent – should be taken into account, along with the cost of utilities bills, TV, broadband, mobile phone bills and weekly food shopping. The last thing you will want to do is sign a contract and then find you have no bed, so make sure you know which items of furniture come with the property so that no nasty surprises greet you when you open the door.
The final thing to remember is that when you move into your rental home for the year you should be aware of the neighbourhood around you. Neighbours will waste little time in complaining if noise levels are too high or the front of the property is not kept up to scratch.
Furthermore, the property is yours to look after. If damage is caused inside or outside the property then you will not get your deposit back, while an inventory will also help to keep a track of the condition of various items inside the house.
Posted at 01:43 16/09/2011