Payments and Paperwork

Rent

A survey by Unipol and the NUS looked at the cost of university accommodation around the UK.

The average length of contract in private sector accommodation is likely to be higher (46 weeks and often 52 weeks) than for university-owned property, and deposits nearer £250 (higher in London) can be expected.

Wherever you decide to live, you may well be expected to pay a term's rent in advance.

Deposits

In addition to an advanced rental payment, you could also be asked to part with a deposit or bond (typically the equivalent of one month's rent) to cover breakages and damage.

This could be about £200 (much higher in London) in university-owned accommodation and as much as £300 in the private sector.
This is returned, less any deductions, at the end of the contract and, at that stage, there is potential for dispute as to what constitutes fair wear and tear!

Disputes over the return of deposits is a real and recurring issue, particularly in the private sector, so much so that the government introduced mandatory deposit protection schemes to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who withhold deposits for no good reason.

It is important to note that these schemes only apply if you have signed a type of contract called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, so check the details of the contract before signing it.

Tenancy agreements

Once you have settled on the shared house, flat or bedsit you like, the next thing is to sort out the paperwork.

Where you are sharing with other students, be aware that a joint tenancy implies joint liability so you might end up being responsible for the deeds and, more importantly, misdeeds of others.

Some landlords will ask that students provide a guarantor – somebody who will sign the tenancy agreement and pay the rent or other charges if you don’t – and the same applies here and your guarantor may well be liable for the actions of unpaid rent of others.

Bills

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What else should you expect?

It is becoming more common for landlords to include the cost of energy and other items such as water, the internet or contents insurance in the agreement.

You will not have to pay Council Tax if all the residents are full-time students.

However, you may need to obtain an Exemption Certificate from the university to offer as proof.  If, on the other hand, one of the residents is not a full-time student then a reduced Council Tax will be levied and if two or more then the full Council Tax.

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