Last week, many pupils from our local schools will have received their A-Level results. A common rite of passage for many students finishing school is to leave the family nest and live independently in the big wide world – so after accepting a place in university or college, the next big step is often to secure private rented accommodation.
But before packing up and shipping out, here are 5 questions that all students should ask for before renting property:
1. Has my landlord given me the basics?
Once you have found your new home, you should make sure that the landlord provides you with the following:-
- A Tenancy Agreement – This is the contract between you and your landlord giving both of you certain rights, for example, your right to occupy the property for a set period of time and the your landlord’s right to receive rent from you.
- A Rent Book – This is a book which should contain your landlords contact details – not just the details of any lettings agency. It is compulsory for all landlords in Northern Ireland to provide a rent book for all tenancies.
- A Statement of Tenancy Terms – This statement is essentially a shorter version of your Tenancy Agreement and should contain details such as both yours and your landlords name and address, contact details of the landlord or letting agency, and details of the amount of deposit you paid and the monthly rental charges
2. Have I done an Inventory?
Make sure that you get an Inventory of the items at the property provided by the landlord including details of condition and damage that these items are in.
You should always accompany your landlord to complete the inventory on the property and photographs can be useful to document the condition of various items as the date that you moved in.
3. Is my deposit protected?
Your landlord will likely take payment of a deposit from you as a type of guarantee against any loss they might face because of the tenancy. This is normally the equivalent of one month’s rent. However, by law, your landlord has to protect any deposit you pay them. They must enter into an authorised scheme run by one of the 3 companies approved to provide a tenancy deposit scheme in Northern Ireland.
If, at the end of your tenancy your landlord decides to keep some of your deposit for alleged loss or damage and you do not agree with this decision, the tenancy deposit scheme will have a procedure for you to follow to dispute this decision.
4. Has my landlord registered with the Landlord Registration Scheme ?
Before signing for a tenancy, you should also check that your landlord is registered in the Land Registration Scheme – this is a central database that all landlords must sign up to before renting out a property.
5. Is the property HMO registered?
If you are renting out a property with two or more friends, the property must be correctly registered by your landlord as a HMO – that is, a House of Multiple Occupancy. If a property is HMO registered, it must meet certain standards in terms of safety, facilities provided and occupancy. It is important to ask your landlord to confirm that the property is HMO registered in this instance.
Renting a place of their own for the first time is a big milestone in any young person’s life and the start of a new chapter in growing up.
Whilst for some this may be daunting, being aware of your legal rights and responsibilities when renting your first home will help ensure that you have a safe, secure place to live so that you can concentrate on enjoying student life to its full.